Google has recently been granted an interesting patent prima facie concerning the management of the clipboard, which is otherwise known as the temporary storage area for copied data. The patent deals with managing the contents of the clipboard, which can potentially be leveraged in smartphone as well as desktop apps to good effect. However, the patent harbours deeper and more meaningful context based system to prevent common email drafting errors.
Gmail Patent: Automatically Updates Copied Text
Titled Correcting Errors in Copied Text, the patent document illustrates how the contents of the clipboard can be updated to reflect the changes made to the original content. The use cases in the patent primarily deal with text copied onto the clipboard and the capability to transfer the changes made to text onto the copy within the clipboard. The primary use case for this feature seems more suited to Google’s Gmail app, which is backed by the primary illustrative examples within the patent document being emails.
The patent depicts pop-up UI elements that prompt the users to confirm whether or not to update the contents of the clipboard with the changes committed to the original text. While this might seem like a trivial feature meant to save the user the trouble of copying the same text all over again after making changes, but the patent document reveals it to be more versatile. One of the examples of possible implementations show how changing, say, the name of an email recipient prompts the system to check other instances of the recipient’s name and offer the user to correct those as well.
The system isn’t restricted to updating copied text or just simple noun replacements, but also leverages grammar to correct elements such as pronouns. For example, the changing the email recipient’s name from Albert to Alice will also get the email app to present the user with an option to change all pronouns from he and him to she and her respectively.
Gmail Patent: Identifies and Corrects Common Gaffes
The intelligent suggestions also extend to suggestions that aim to reduce user mistakes by suggesting corrections based on context. This can range from alerting the user of mismatch between recipient’s name and address, if the recipient is a famous institution such as a college or a company, to elementary mistakes such as figuring out whether the email has been addressed to the wrong person by comparing the email address and the name to which it is addressed in the body of the email.
The application of this patent goes beyond the stated title and purpose of dynamically updated clipboard system. This sort of contextual corrective prompts within Gmail could potentially save plenty of users from the embarrassment associated with common email gaffes such as sending sensitive emails to the wrong recipients. These mistakes tend to occur frequently and cannot be caught be caught by existing remedial measures such as spelling checkers.
While there’s no substitute for being careful and proofreading emails before sending, this feature could turn out to be handy if Google decides to implement it in the future. Keep watching this space to find out if Google goes ahead and implements this patent in the most feasible product for such an application in its software repertoire, which is Gmail.