Future iPhones will warn you when you’re going to be late

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Photo: CC Wikipedia
Photo: CC Wikipedia

Apple has been steadily working to improve its Apple Maps service since its disastrous debut a couple of years ago, and a new patent application published Thursday further cements that.

According to the application, filed in March last year, future iOS devices may scour through your data to warn you of traffic congestion on routes you are predicted to be likely to travel.

These journeys could be learned by your iPhone or Apple Watch by way of a smart artificial intelligence “machine-learning engine,” based on the frequency of previous destinations (say, regular appointments), location of events in a user’s calendar, location of events which users hold electronic tickets for, and addresses gathered by analyzing messages in the form of texts or emails.

While Apple has been outspoken about not engaging in the kind of data-mining that a company like Google does, the application notes that the prediction engine would have the option of relying on only local information stored on your iOS device, or else additional data from iCloud or external servers.

Photo: Apple/USPTO
Photo: Apple/USPTO

“Mobile devices are moving towards having access to larger amounts and varying types of personalized information, either stored on the device itself or accessible to the device over a network (e.g., in the cloud),” Apple’s patent application reads.

“This enables the users of such devices to store and subsequently access this information about their lives … However, at the moment, these devices require users to specifically request information in order for the devices to present the information. For instance, if a user wants a route to a particular destination, the user must enter information into the mobile device requesting the route. Given the amount of data accessible to a mobile device, a device that leverages this data in order to predict the information needed by a user would be useful.”

The advisory notes could be sent to users by way of push notifications — so that a message might pop-up unprompted on your iPhone or Apple Watch, telling you to leave 30 minutes early for a concert or scheduled business meeting since traffic is expected to be bad.

It’s worth noting that this feature has existed for some time on Google Now, and similar functionality has also been added into other travel apps like ETA. While it may not be novel, however, it would certainly be great to see it arrive on iOS.