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Apple invents brilliant ‘transparent texting’ solution that has already existed for years

Published Mar 27th, 2014 9:20AM EDT
Apple Transparent Texting

Now this is a good idea. In the age of the smartphone as an extension of our bodies, people’s faces are always buried in their iPhones and Android phones while they walk around. We see people walking into each other and into stationary objects all the time on trips to and from our Times Square office. Is there nothing that can save these poor souls from awkward collisions? Thankfully, Apple may soon come to their rescue with a brand new invention… that was already invented years ago.

In a patent application from late 2012 that the United States Patent and Trademark Office made public on Thursday, Apple describes a nifty iPhone feature called “transparent texting.” Here’s the abstract from the application:

An electronic communication device’s camera can continuously capture and present video images as a background within a text messaging session currently being displayed by the device. The camera can be a rear-facing camera on the device, so that the video images represent the views that the device’s user would see if the device’s display were transparent. The camera can continuously capture and present the video images as the background in the text messaging session, so that the device’s user continuously can be aware of the environment beyond the device’s display while still focusing on the text messages being communicated. The background within the text messaging session can continuously be a live and current video image of the view seen by the camera at any given moment. Consequently, the device’s user is less likely to collide with or stumble over an object while participating in a text messaging session.


The rear-mounted camera on a cell phone can be used to display a live video feed that is presented beneath the screen the user is typing on. That way, he or she can see the ground in front of him or her, even as text and emoji are being splashed across the screen.

There’s no telling if or when Apple’s great new tech will actually make its way to iOS devices, but luckily someone else invented Apple’s invention long before Apple invented it. First released back in 2009, “Type n Walk” is one of many mobile apps that perform the exact function described in Apple’s patent application.

Of note, this isn’t the first time Apple has filed a patent covering technology that already existed in third-party iOS apps.

Zach Epstein
Zach Epstein Executive Editor

Zach Epstein has been the Executive Editor at BGR for more than 10 years. He manages BGR’s editorial team and ensures that best practices are adhered to. He also oversees the Ecommerce team and directs the daily flow of all content. Zach first joined BGR in 2007 as a Staff Writer covering business, technology, and entertainment.

His work has been quoted by countless top news organizations, and he was recently named one of the world's top 10 “power mobile influencers” by Forbes. Prior to BGR, Zach worked as an executive in marketing and business development with two private telcos.