Apple’s semi-creepy patent lets you keep a closer eye on your friends


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"Mr. Bond, I've been expecting you."
Photo: USPTO/Apple

With its pro-privacy stance, Apple’s pretty good at treading the line between usefulness and creepiness, which other tech companies can struggle with.

A newly-published patent, however, may challenge that assertion — describing a method for monitoring another person’s location, via their iPhone, with constant user notifications sent to alert you of any changes in their progress along a route.

Presumably so you can hop in a chair, grab a white cat for your lap, and sit facing the door to greet their arrival with the line, “Mr. Bond, I’ve been expecting you.”

An overview of how Apple's patent may work.
An overview of how Apple’s patent may work.
Photo: USPTO/Apple

“Most people have experienced the anxiety of waiting for a loved one to arrive safely at a destination,” Apple’s patent observes. “Typically, one knows the departure time, destination and estimated time of arrival of a traveler. When the traveler arrives safely at the destination, contact is made through telephone, e-mail or text messaging to confirm safe arrival.”

“There are instances, however, where a traveler’s estimated time of arrival is delayed due to traffic, severe weather, flat tire or some other event. If the traveler is traveling on an airplane, a flight tracker application may be used to determine when their plane is estimated to arrive at a destination airport.”

“If the traveler is traveling in a car, train, boat, bus or on foot, there is often no convenient way to know whether the traveler will be delayed or is in need of assistance without the traveler initiating contact or without the concerned individual making many phone calls to track down the traveler’s whereabouts.”

Apple’s patent would specify specific “geo-fence regions” along a particular route to a destination. Entering and exiting these geolocations would trigger the sending of automatic event notifications to a “monitoring device.” This could be done via email or text message. In all, it sounds similar to Apple’s Find My Friends app, albeit with a bit more functionality.

Since Apple devices already predict the time you are likely to arrive on a particular route, it would also be possible to update you of your friend/loved one’s planned arrival time, and any changes which have taken place.

Creepy? Useful? You decide.

Source: USPTO