On October 31, 2013, the US Patent & Trademark Office published a patent application from Apple that relates to providing techniques for automatically adjusting a telephone numbers when doing a business card or telephone number exchanges.
Apple's Patent Background
Mobile devices, including smart phones, personal digital assistants, and tablet computers, are rapidly becoming ubiquitous. These devices are increasing being used to make voice and video calls and to store contact information useful in establishing such calls. For example, a user of a smart phone device can typically save contact information records for themselves and others on the device. The contact information records include information about home addresses, business addresses, phone numbers, e-mail addresses, etc. and can be used to initiate direct communication with the associated contacts.
For example, the smart phone user may open a contact and initiate a one touch command to call that contact's cellular telephone number. As another example, a user may click on a contact name displayed in a contact's listing and select to send an e-mail or text message to the selected contact.
Contact information records contain useful information about a person's contacts and can be shared with others in various ways. Contact information records can be sent via e-mail, Short Message Service (SMS), Bluetooth, WI-FI, using specific business card and contact tracking applications, and using other options.
The vCard format is a file format for storing and exchanging electronic business cards that allows the vCards to be exchanged as attachments to e-mail messages, through instant messaging, and in other ways on the Internet. A first user may, for example, sends a text message with his or her vCard to a second user so that the second user can easily contact the first user. Once the second user has the vCard, the second user can use the telephone number and other contact information from the vCard to call or otherwise contact the first user.
Phone numbers and other contact information used in vCards is, however, sometimes inaccurate, for example, in that location differences are not addressed. Dialing prefixes may be missing or inaccurate. This can result in failed call attempts and require significant effort on the part of the user to identify and enter an appropriate dialing prefix.
Apple's invention relates to providing techniques for automatically adjusting a telephone number when doing a business card or telephone number exchange.
For example, the country code, area code, or other prefix portion of the telephone number may be added, removed, or modified based on a location associated with the telephone number and/or a location associated with the recipient.
In the circumstance in which the telephone number is the number of the sending device, the sending device can look up location information by contacting the service provider, analyzing the local subscriber identification module (SIM) card, or otherwise, and, based on this information, include (or not include) an appropriate prefix.
The sending device can also use a location associated with the recipient in determining an appropriate prefix, for example, based on the recipient's own telephone number or other recipient location identifying information. Adjustments to telephone numbers can also be made by recipient devices, intermediary devices, and any other devices that may be involved in the exchange of telephone numbers, business card information, or related activities.
Telephone numbers can be adjusted in other contexts as well. For example, telephone numbers displayed on web pages, e-mails, or otherwise accessed from remote devices can be adjusted based on location information associated with the telephone number and/or location information associated with the recipient of the telephone number.
Apple further notes that telephone number modification techniques can also be employed in other contexts. For example, a telephone number can be modified when accessed while viewing a web page. As a specific example, if a user accesses a particular restaurant's web page (or a web page associated with any other real-world business) and selects the restaurant's phone number to retrieve or dial, an automatic process can identify an appropriate prefix to add to the number or other modification to the number based on the restaurant's location and/or the location associated with the device of the user that is viewing the webpage and requesting/calling the number. The restaurant's location and/or an appropriate prefix can be identified in various ways including, but not limited to, by identifying an Internet Protocol (IP) address associated with the web page, by identifying a tag or field on the web page that provides location and/or prefix information, or by another mechanism.
In yet another context in which automatic telephone number modification techniques is beneficial is where a single number is being distributed to multiple recipients. The number can be adjusted to target each of the particular recipients so that each recipient receives a number with an appropriate prefix or no prefix if none is needed. Thus, for example, a conference call organizer can send out a conference call dial-in number by simply sending a single number or reduced set of numbers that are automatically adjusted for each of the recipients.
Apple credits Swapnil Dave and Devrim Varoglu as the inventors of this patent application which was originally filed in Q2 2012. For more on this see patent application 20130288649.
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