Will Apple iSlate tablet have a tactile keyboard?

Braille like dots?
Braille like dots?

Potential details of Apple's new tablet, what it will be called, and the way in which we will interact with it may have come to the public domain, with a patent application hinting at tactile feedback for a flat device's virtual keyboard.

The iSlate name comes from Apple briefly being outed as the owners of the domain, with MacRumour's story looked at in some detail by TechCrunch.

Perhaps more interestingly is the hardware hints given in a patent.

One of the key complaints about touchscreen devices has been the lack of feedback when tapping away at a screen.

With reports that 'you'll be surprised with the way you interact with the new tablet' the arrival of more patents is inevitably going to attract major interest.


The always excellent Apple Insider has a detailed dissection of the patent, which uses what Apple terms an 'articulating frame' to produce bumps under the screen that help you find the right keys.

When you are finished with the keyboard, the bumps will disappear, retracting into the device.

"The articulating frame may provide key edge ridges that define the boundaries of the key regions or may provide tactile feedback mechanisms within the key regions," the application states.

"The articulating frame may also be configured to cause concave depressions similar to mechanical key caps in the surface.

"Preferably, each key edge comprises one to four distinct bars or Braille-like dots.When constructed in conjunction with a capacitive multi-touch surface, the key edge ridges should separated to accommodate the routing of the drive electrodes, which may take the form of rows, columns, or other configurations."

Game changer?

It's certainly potentially a major change for touchscreens – which have seen other developments, like the maligned BlackBerry Storm's clickscreen – get short shrift from some members of the public.

With the whole world now poised for the Apple announcement at the end of January, we'll all have to wait and see if it's actually the iTablet, and whether the whole host of mooted developments will be present.

Patrick Goss

Patrick Goss is the ex-Editor in Chief of TechRadar. Patrick was a passionate and experienced journalist, and he has been lucky enough to work on some of the finest online properties on the planet, building audiences everywhere and establishing himself at the forefront of digital content.  After a long stint as the boss at TechRadar, Patrick has now moved on to a role with Apple, where he is the Managing Editor for the App Store in the UK.