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 February 24, 2011, The European Trademarks and Designs Office published Apple's latest trademark application for the word "Places" under application 009760141. Apple has filed their trademark under four distinct International Classes covering all manner of computer hardware, education and entertainment services and more. Yet at the heart of this application, Places is primarily about online social networking services related to a social networking site and will assist in locating people using GPS on Apple's mobile devices. Whether this will be coordinated with Apple's iTunes social networking music service called Ping is unknown at this time.
Apple has long been researching the field of avatars in context with next generation shopping experiences. Their initial research popped up in 2008 in context to a future avatar-centric Apple Store. A year later, Apple introduced us to the head-tracking system in relation to future avatar movements matching our real-world movements and we also learned about the future of 3D internet experiences. While the first generation of avatar creation was rather hokey, like avatars associated with Microsoft's Xbox, next generation avatars show promising realism. It's that realism that will give life to Apple's new personalized shopping avatar application. It will allow users to visualize what clothing, jewelry or accessories will look like on them before purchasing the items from a virtual retailer. The technology will also eventually apply to assisting user's redesign their living room with new furniture that they're thinking of buying or assisting doctors in their communication with patient's over the net.
Late last week, the US Patent & Trademark Office published Apple's latest important trademark/service mark application update for "Apple" under application 85120231. Apple had originally filed a service mark application that would cover Apple, the brand itself, for social networking services one day prior to Ping being introduced. Yesterday the USPTO registered a Trademark "Snapshot Amendment & Mail Processing Stylesheet" form reflecting the changes that Apple was requested to make. Apple obviously regards social networking as an important piece of the mobile device revolution and their brand name being associated with this movement is crucial.
On December 30, 2010, the last patent application session for 2010, the US Patent & Trademark Office published a patent application from Apple that reveals the next chapter for their social networking app related to shopping. The patent details how shoppers will be able to communicate with their friends about items that they seek feedback on. Users will be able to send their friend's photos or videos of items to view so that their feedback could be specific. Additionally, some consumers will be able to communicate with the salespeople of their favorite stores so as to ensure that the items that they're seeking to purchase are firstly in stock and secondly available to put aside in a dressing room ready for them to try out at a specific date and time.
Apple just finished introducing their new Social Network for Music called Ping on the first of September and we're already seeing in one of Apple's latest patent applications that they're thinking about the next great thing which we'll call Social iTunes for the time being. Apple's thinking of a new kind of music service that could work at your own house party or perhaps at your local community hall, bar, restaurant or pub (Cheers!). The system is unique in that it lets your party guests vote on what music that they want to hear and the system tabulates the votes to generate a playlist. You could vote with your iPod touch, iPad, iPhone or any other Apple computer. It sure sounds like Apple wants you to join Ping and then get down and P-A-R-T-Y the night away!
An interesting surprise was revealed by the US Patent & Trademark Office over the Labor-Day weekend. They revealed that Apple filed two new major service extensions to their most recognized logos. The filings were originally filed on the day prior to Apple's Special Event under applications 85120231 and 85120250. Both applications were filed under a single International Class which covers "online social networking and introduction services" as well as "security services." The latter is for protecting privacy data collected. The newly extended trademark coverage legally covers Apple's new venture into Ping: A Social Network for Music.
Apple's new advertising centric webpage states that "iAd rich media ads bring motion and emotion to mobile advertising through branded experiences that entertain and inform. With the iAd logo on each ad, your target Apple audience will know a great experience awaits them behind the banner." Yeeeesss, Apple is taking Target Marketing seriously – very seriously. In fact we learned just yesterday that Apple has recently acquired a new powerful geo-location patent that packs quite the punch. It's focused on delivering informative content proactively rather than reactively in response to a person's manual query to a service or human. Beyond delivering advanced marketing retail services, the patent provides us with a series of other feasible life-based scenarios. For instance, the new service could give home users the ability to announce a Garage Sale that they're having to anyone in a given vicinity or send emergency live Amber Alerts to your iPhone along with photos of the missing child in question. Advanced geolocation services could go far beyond just commerce.
Earlier today we presented you with Apple's new Virtual Closet application. That application had a cross-over element to it for shopping online. This second report follows through on yet another Apple patent that was published today aimed at driving consumers to fashion retailers specifically. Apple is obviously working with Ralph Lauren and other designers and fine clothiers to drive sales their way. Those designers and clothiers involved in the program will be able to send out invitations, promotions and cross sell into accessories like jewelry and so on and so forth. It's also a vehicle for Apple's new high-end iAds. The new app will provide a social networking aspect to it as did the Virtual Closet. Apple has thought differently here and is well on the way to delivering a new kind of application that will be the first of many to follow no doubt.
Apple has obviously been approached by the larger fashion retail chains to come up with some kind of app that could generate sales for them down the road and Apple has hired new engineers to take on this task. In the first of two applications, Apple introduces us to the Virtual Closet - a unique application that could really only be understood and appreciated by women. The application allows a user to catalog and duplicate their real-world closet into that of a virtual one. It allows a user to check out what a combined outfit would look on them before trying it out. It also allows the user to go Virtual window shopping and try out new clothes before buying. The social aspect of the app comes in when the user invites their friends to check out their Virtual Closet, rate their clothes and even allow friends to make a request to borrow an item. If you're a female who loves to share their clothes with friends or happen to be a retailer who has been searching for new ways to reach a new tech savvy audience, then look no further. Apple is working on an app for that!
Last Wednesday the Business Insider reported that a mobile industry insider confirmed to them that Apple was building Facebook features into iPhone OS 4. Perhaps "Apple's new hooks into Facebook," reported Frommer "will make this sync process part of the phone's operating system and not just a feature of the Facebook app." Coincidentally, a recently published Apple patent sheds light on this very subject under the scope of a fuller social networking application concerning various workflows including an "Add Contact" workflow and a "Social Networking" workflow which specifically highlights an exemplary Facebook example. This report covers Apple's "Workflow" patent that is indeed presented as a possible future iPhone OS upgrade consideration.
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.
Within four of Apple's social networking patents that have come to light in 2010, the most prominent trend of all has been that of location awareness technology. There have been a number of articles written on the dangers of such a feature, one being "PleaseRobMe and the Dangers of Location-Based Social Networks." During Apple's iPhone OS 4 event held on Thursday, Scott Forstall took to the stage to discuss a number of features coming to the iPhone – with multitasking being the most interesting of all. Within this segment, Forstall focused on a new feature-set relating to "Background Location." This report focuses on this brief yet very important feature-set that is directly related to consumer security. As location awareness technology and social networking apps explode on the market over the coming years, you're going to want to know that the iPhone has safeguards in place for you and your family's protection.