Earlier today we posted a report titled "Apple Advances Automatic Vehicle Location Services for Parking." It was one of three new location based patent filings revealed today by the US Patent Office. In a third filing today titled "Sensor-Assisted Location Fix," Apple describes location scenarios beyond parking and discusses location-centric problems and solutions associated with driving in urban canyons, which is a powerful image when you think of cities like New York, Hong Kong, Osaka, Beijing, Toronto, Vancouver, Chicago and others that have massive buildings in their downtown business cores.
Apple's intent to create a parking app for future iDevices began to surface with a pair of inventions (one, two) that we reported on back in 2013. Since that time there have been two follow-up patents in 2014 including this one and an important second one that we'll point to later in this report. Today, the US Patent & Trademark Office published Apple's third patent application of the year that relates to finding your car or any vehicle in an outside parking lot, a marina, inside a Parkade and beyond. Last Saturday we posted a report titled "Apple and Google Headed for an Indoor Location Services War" illustrating that indoor location services are going to go far beyond just parking applications. Yet for now, we have to wonder if Apple's new parking location app will make it into iOS 8 for the iPhone 6. The good news is that we'll get the answer to that question in just a few weeks' time.
On July 3, 2014, the US Patent & Trademark Office published another security related patent application from Apple. Apple's first security invention published earlier today revealed a "Dual-Factor Authentication System for the iTunes Store." In this second security-centric patent application, Apple reveals advanced security based on location. Apple covers "fixed locations" like your home or Office and "mobile locations" like when you're shopping, at a coffee shop or inside your car (or other vehicles). The specific system designed for the car is obviously going to be a part of Apple's forthcoming CarPlay. Whether Apple will roll the fixed location interfaces into their forthcoming "Home" app is not known at this time. Intelligent location-based security will be able to change your security settings on the fly.
Back in late March Apple acquired indoor-GPS Company called WifiSLAM signaling that Apple could be entering the indoor mobile location services business sometime in the future. WifiSLAM's software allows a user's smartphone to pinpoint its location (and the location of friends) in real-time to 2.5m accuracy using only ambient WiFi signals that are already present in buildings. Today, a key patent application from Apple titled "3D Position Tracking for Panoramic Imagery Navigation" was published by the US Patent and Trademark Office. On one hand, the patent is about bringing detailed street-views to Apple's Map application. On the other hand, we get a smidgen of understanding as to why Apple acquired WifiSLAM. Apple's patent filing is very stingy in providing us with details about the second half of their invention. Apple states that "In some implementations, forward and backward translation enables the user to enter an indoor panorama of a structure (e.g., a commercial venue), " like a store for making a purchase. Although Apple has recently taken a bruising over their Map application's turn-by-turn navigation inaccuracies, it's crystal clear that they're charging ahead with determination to bring newly advanced services to Maps in the future.
Social networking on sites like LinkedIn and Facebook are a huge success with today's in-crowd. Today's social apps typically use matching algorithms to match members with members who are deemed compatible by with their interests and values. As of today, Apple has tippy-toed into this arena with their introductory social network for music called Ping and will be wholly embracing Twitter in their upcoming iOS 5 operating system this fall. But it doesn't look like Apple is satisfied just yet. A new patent application that surfaced today indicates that Apple is working on a new iOS based social networking app that will use a few new methods for matching people up. They include uniquely sharing data from your iOS device as well as sharing location data on several levels. The app could identify where you currently are, like a club, but also inform others where you've been such as Paris, New York or events like Macworld or Apple's WWDC so as to provide potential new friends with an ice-breaker for conversation. Apple's proposed app is an odd entry and one that appears to only represent a single part within a larger app framework for a future more complete social networking app. For now, it's interesting but half baked.
On April 14, 2011, the US Patent & Trademark Office published two patent applications from Apple that reveal the next chapters for both a new geo-location service system that uses WIMAX transmitters and a new EMI shielding process that is needed to support Apple's desire to create ever thinner mobile devices.
Out of some forty Apple patent filings published yesterday, we see that Apple pushed through nine that were related to geo-location and the electronic compass technologies behind it. Apple is constantly improving the iPhone's magnometer and other related sensors to help us now and in the future. Apple introduces us to one application dedicated to improving our road trip experiences with information about facilities and attractions that are "just ahead" of us so that we won't miss a thing. Apple understands that the iPhone will be used on foot, in cars, on bikes and boats, and they're making sure that their geo-location services will work to our benefit. It began last week when we discovered that Apple was working on new interactive radio mapping functionality for the iPhone - and this week we see that their work is once again pushing the envelope. That's what The Crazy Ones do.
Within the sixteen patent applications that were published by the US Patent & Trademark Office for Apple Inc today, a single gem emerged. It's a very powerful new concept for a location based application service that is one of the most ingenious ideas that have surfaced on this subject in some time. The idea is simple. Deliver a location based service to information savvy iPhone users that wish to receive temporary retail and service-based applications. Imagine standing at the entrance of a restaurant and viewing their menu on your iPhone or entering a public library and being able to access their database. The minute you leave the library or the front of that restaurant, the app disappears so that you don't clog up your iPhone with hundreds of local business apps. I don't know if Apple will tackle this at their upcoming developer conference, but this is a phenomenal opportunity for hungry developers and/or Business Form companies looking for a new avenue for revenue. There are millions of non-geek business owners who are going to want in on this service so as to attract new tech savvy iPhone using clients. Snooze on this opportunity and you'll Lose.
An interesting Apple patent surfaced last week that had me take a second look. The patent generally relates to provisioning mobile devices with information and services pertaining to a location. While this patent confirms that location based technology could be used to send out ads to iPhone users, the fact is that this patent provides us with some interesting twists. A new architecture will offer differing databases relating to points-of-interest (think restaurants, night clubs, theaters, etc) and social networking via a shared-interest database - so that you and your friends could plan a night out by coordinating information. Another key focus of this patent relates to Apple's iPhone offering a very handy Transit System Interface covering busses, light rails, trolleys, cable cars, or other types of conveyance available for public use. The system would be able to send out timing alerts to users based on current public transit schedule information, current locations of public transit vehicles on one or more routes and so forth. The location-aware iPhone will use triangulation information via GPS signals. Whether for city transit or inner city parking, the service will double as a vehicle for Apple's new Quattro Wireless ad services