Apple was busy in the summer of 2013 acquiring several mass transit app companies such as HopStop, Locationary and most notably Embark that had a great app for customizing trips in your city or in a new city you're visiting. Today the US Patent & Trademark Office published a patent application from Apple that reveals their future mass transit "Commute App" that's now in the works.
Apple's Patent Background
A countless number of cities and regions around the world have public and/or private transit systems that provides passenger transport services between locations in the cities and regions, and in some cases, other cities and regions. Such transit systems use any number of different modes of transit such as buses, shuttles, trains, metros, subways, airplanes, helicopters, boats, etc.
The majority of the transit systems operate on set schedules that specify pickup and arrival times at stops along the different routes offered by the transit systems. Software developers today have created applications that allow users to view these schedules while the users are mobile and on the move. Many of the applications also provide a map that shows the paths traveled by the transit system's different routes along.
Apple's Invention: A SolutionUser Interface Tools for Commute Assistant
Embodiments covering Apple's invention provide us with insights into a novel commute application that has several features for viewing routes and schedules for the routes. In some embodiments, the commute application provides a novel user interface that presents the routes and the schedules for the routes in an intuitive and fluid manner. For instance, the commute application of some embodiments includes several user interface widgets for facilitating the presentation of different routes that are part of different transit systems in a way that different route alternatives can be easily viewed.
In some embodiments, the commute application provides a dynamic focus table that dynamically presents schedules for trips along a particular route. For instance, when a particular route is selected to view its details, the dynamic focus table of some embodiments automatically presents the next upcoming trip along the particular route. In some embodiments, the dynamic focus table displays the next upcoming trip information based on the current time of the device, on which the commute application is executing, and also the current location of the device. In other embodiments, this table shows the next upcoming trip based on the current time of the device, and not based on the current location of the device.
In some embodiments, the dynamic focus table allows a user to quickly scroll through all the trips that are scheduled to travel along the particular route throughout the day or for a certain period of time. In some embodiments, the commute application receives updates to the arrival and departure time of transit vehicles at each stop along a route from a set of servers operated by a transit operator or from one or more third parties that collect this information from the transit operator or from equipment that these parties install on the transit vehicles.
The commute application of some embodiments includes a location-centric user interface widget that allows a user to browse all the trips along routes that stop at and/or pass through a particular location, irrespective of the time of the trips, the mode of transit used for the trips, and the destinations of the trips. For instance, in some embodiments, the commute application provides a user interface widget that allows a user to select a particular stop and view all the different trips along all the different routes that stop at and/or pass through the particular stop. Alternatively, or in conjunction, the commute application of some embodiments allows the user to view all the different trips along all the different routes that stop at and/or pass through the user's location or near the user's location.
The commute application of some embodiments displays different graphical representations of transit systems, routes, stops and/or schedules for different localities. For instance, in some embodiments, the elements of graphical representations (e.g., fonts, icons, symbols, colors, shapes, etc.) in each particular locality are defined differently based on the graphical representations of the transit data (e.g., the route data, stop data, schedule data, etc.) that the transit system operator or operators use in that locality. This approach allows the commute application to customize the views (e.g., map views, list views, etc.) displayed in the commute application to match the graphical representation of the transit data in different localities, which, in turn, causes the application to appear more realistic to the user of the application.
In some embodiments, a set of servers receives the graphical representations of the transit systems, routes, stops and schedules for each locality (e.g., each city, state, etc.) from one or more transit system data providers (e.g., train operators, bus operators, etc.) of the locality and/or third parties that work with these data providers. This set of servers then provides the received graphical representations to specify the route, stop, and schedule display for a particular locality to a device's commute application when the device is operating in that particular locality.
Apple's Future Commute App
Apple's patent FIG. 36 noted below conceptually illustrates providing a notification for the commute application of some embodiments when a device is in a power saving mode; FIG. 38 conceptually illustrates the commute application of some embodiments downloading different route data based on different localities in which a device operates.
Apple's patent FIG. 4 conceptually illustrates the commute application of some embodiments that provides several different features.
One of the notable featues that could be comming to this commute app is that it will be integrated with Siri. Apple notes that "The audio subsystem is coupled to a speaker to output audio (e.g., to output voice navigation instructions). Additionally, the audio subsystem is coupled to a microphone to facilitate voice-enabled functions, such as voice recognition (e.g., for searching), digital recording, etc.
Apple's application is massive and chock-full of rich details. It has 45 patent figures in total covering various interfaces and so forth. For those interested in reviewing this patent filing, check out Apple's future mass transit "Commute App." There were two other patent applications related to this invention. If you're interested than check out: Architecture for Distributed Transit Data, and Location-Based Features for Commute Assistant.
Apple credits May-Li Khoe, Joseph Hagedorn and Marcel van OS as the inventors of patent application # which was originally filed in Q4 2013. Considering that this is a patent application, the timing of such a product to market is unknown at this time.
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