Apple’s collaborative search patent makes it easy to check in with friends


Apple's patent will help you find a coffee shop convenient to all your friends.
Apple's patent will help you find a coffee shop convenient to all your friends.
Photo: Warner Bros. Television

You can add all the high-tech features you want, but ultimately one of the best ways to make people buy gadgets is to ensure that the devices are the same ones already used by their friends.

That’s the concept behind a newly-published patent application, titled, “Collaborative Location-Based Search Results.” It describes a way in which multiple iPhone users in different locations can search for shared information — say, finding a restaurant or movie theater that’s equally convenient for every member of a group of friends to reach.

This information can then be forwarded to individual navigation apps or systems on local devices, so that once a destination is agreed upon you can be guided towards it.

An example of how
An example of how the patent might function. Photo: USPTO

The patent could also allow friends or spouses to request that someone else drops into a specific store they’re passing — perhaps asking a husband or wife to call into a particular supermarket on the way home to pick up milk.

In yet another example of how the patent might function, a user may search for which of their friends is nearest to them at any one time, so that they can call them. While it’s easy to think of the social context in which this could work, it’s also got more useful applications — such as if you had to phone someone for help when your car broke down.

In all, the patent is a further example of how Apple is trying to get in on the search game, which it has traditionally lagged behind in. As noted up front, it’s also a great way to try and encourage people into the Apple ecosystem, by providing an incentive for them to encourage their friends to buy an iPhone next time that person upgrades.

Can you patent peer pressure? It seems so.

Source: USPTO