The WWDC, for those of you that don’t know, is Apple’s annual event for the software side of their business and a week long geekfest for those developers lucky enough to score one of the 5000 (or so) tickets on offer.
For the rest of us, the WWDC links in to that point of the year when speculation about Apple’s next products and services begins to ramp up. The WWDC is normally the point at which Apple fanbois find out what features the next version of the iOS operating system will be sporting in the next couple of months. For everyone else the WWDC is a chance to practice their best Apple put-downs and then to have a look over the feature list to find out what features their non iDevice might be sporting in the next 6 months….[Note to lawyers: that was a joke].
So, what do the patents suggest we could be seeing for iOS8?
Group chat in FaceTime?
I remember when Facetime was first announced I got the impression that it would become a new video calling standard that would be open to 3rd parties as well as Apple. Well, that dream hasn’t come to pass but the Facetime app is certainly incredibly useful and easy to use if you want to call your friends and family and they happen to be an iDevice user as well.
Is Apple about to extend the functionality of Facetime to include video conference calls? US2010/01321469, which was filed back in August 2010 and granted as US8638353, would seem to suggest Apple is looking in that direction.
That said the above patent is actually divisional application from a far earlier filing (Granted patent US7817180 which was filed way back in 2005), so maybe this is just one of a number of features that Apple has considered in the past.
The iWatch – actual product in development or mythical iDevice?
Rumours about the iWatch have been circulating for years so who knows. However, health related functionality seems to be something that Apple is considering for inclusion in iOS8 in the form of the Healthbook app.
There are also a number of hardware related patent filings that are in Apple’s name that strongly suggest they are looking to incorporate such an health related app.
US8615290 relates to a heart rate monitor and the patent filing appears to disclose an iPhone with an integrated sensor for detecting a fanbois’ cardiac activity.
The Healthbook app may also allow data from other deivces to be collected. Devices such as a wrist worn pedometer as descirbed in US20140074431
Contact aware background images
US20140136987 appears to show a user interface design in which the background displayed in a messaging application changes depending on who you are talking to.
The patent application appears to envisage this contact aware user interface working for both single and group chats. Looks a bit odd to us but we may only have a few hours to wait and see if it appears.
Apple’s in house mapping solution has seen its fair share of problems (and employee departures) but it looks as though Apple is aiming to upgrade the functionality provided by the app to allow users to “dynamically adjust the content of an electronic map”. US20130339891 is the patent application that explains this invention in more detail which appears to be a way of juggling the “endless amount of information that can be included on a map of a geographic area” (such as the depth of the body of water you’ve just driven into) with the limited amount of space available.
Driver lock out – A few weeks ago I watched helplessly as a Chelsea tractor bore down on me, its occupant completely oblivious to the sound of my car horn while they attempted to send an SMS message.
That scenario may become a thing of the past (at least where iDevice users are concerned) if US8706143 gets integrated into iOS8.
This patent describes a lock-out mechansim that disables certain functions of a phone, e.g. texting, while the user is driving.
Will these features or ones related to these patents appear in iOS8 later today? Tune in to the live stream from 6pm UK time today to find out. However, with over 2000 hits in the espacenet database for US related Apple patent cases in 2013 alone we’re almost certain to be wrong!
Mark Richardson 2 June 2014
*Yes. Get over it.