If you’re walking, you really shouldn’t be texting. While not as perilous as texting and driving, there’s no surer way to annoy fellow pedestrians than by zigzagging across a sidewalk, eyes glued to your precious screen.
But if you absolutely must walk and text, Apple might have a new feature that could make that action safer. The company filed a patent for a “transparent texting” technology, which would replace the white text messaging background with a live video feed from the phone’s camera, essentially turning your iPhone’s screen into a clear window. In theory, this means you’d get ample warning of upcoming passersby and telephone poles, while you feverishly adjust your on-the-go dinner plans. In practice, however, it seems like the feed would supply little more than a city sidewalk and some shuffling feet–since no one’s texting posture is actually that vertical.
It’s worth keeping in mind that not all Apple patents make their way into Apple’s products. And notably, transparent texting is already on the market: in November, Type n Walk hit the Android and App store. It’s ostensibly the same service teased by Apple, but due to Apple’s own API restrictions, it can’t be operated through native iMessaging–making it a paltry solution for iOS users.
At a glance, it seems like a fix for a champagne problem: do we really need another way to focus more on our state-of-the-art phones than on our surroundings? Probably not. But if the technology was integrated into iOS, you could imagine a more seamless way to have an augmented reality experience–imagine visiting a national monument and being able to search for some more historical information, without sacrificing the view.