Now that Apple's Main Event Keynote is over, Patently Apple presents you with a look at some of the patent applications that came to life on Monday. This time around, the big winner was software. Our report takes a look at Apple's Mega Ticket Patent which was by far the star of the show while others touched on 3D mapping, augmented reality, Siri and much more. While Apple's competitors are overly focused on Apple's industrial design form factors, Apple once again took their software to new heights by upgrading both their desktop and mobile operating systems with flair. Unless Windows 8 with its Metro user interface could mount a challenge against Apple, it looks like Apple isn't only a runaway freight train, but one that just happens to own the tracks.
The Beginnings of Apple's iWallet Emerge at WWDC 2012
Most modern wallets today provide us with numerous slots to hold our plethora of cards that we use on a daily basis such as credit, debit, gas, Air Miles and store cards to name just a few. So when Scott Forstall, Apple's Senior Vice President of iPhone Software presented a slide during his Keynote on Monday for a new iOS feature called "Passbook," it was evident that Apple was actually showing us the humble beginnings of their future iWallet application.
During Monday's Keynote, Forstall provided attendees with a few examples of Passbook which covered a boarding pass, movie tickets and transit apps. These are all attributes of Apple's master patent covering all things related to tickets. With Apple introducing Passbook, it'll lead to more advanced features down the road that were covered in subsequent patent applications concerning iTravel cruises and other travel industry services. See our iWallet archives for other patents concepts related to tickets and iTravel services.
In Apple's Passbook marketing verbiage we read that you'll be able to even "see where your concert tickets are." This is specifically presented in Apple's ticket patent under the graphic "Flowchart + Selecting Seating and Content." Another example that Forstall provided us with was a new e-player card feature as noted in the graphic below. This again was specifically presented at the bottom of Apple's "iTicket" patent under the graphic titled: "iTicket – Sporting Event Example - Baseball. Another attribute of Apple's iTicket patent covered coupons. Forstall covered this in his keynote segment. You could see an example of a Target store coupon below.
Apple's major ticket patent also covered transit applications. This is going to be a very important feature of Passbook in the not-too-distant future as more and more cities around the world adopt new wireless transit payment systems. As an example, Calgary, a Canadian City with a population of slightly more than a million is now testing smart card payments and companies like Samsung are working on advanced e-payment transit system for the future. New opportunities such as this will quickly multiply once Apple incorporates NFC capabilities into the iPhone. This will be needed to kick start true e-commerce with credit cards from traditional banks in the form of ICC Cards for your iDevices.
In a report that we posted just last week, we presented news that Research in Motion will be the first to introduce a true e-commerce iWallet service to Canadians this fall. It would appear from what we've heard during this week's WWDC keynote, Apple's iWallet won't be ready for this fall. That will likely push their iWallet services into Q4 2013 at the very earliest. Yet with Passbook, Apple will be easing their customer base into using their iPhone for simple commercial transactions involving coupons, store cards, movie tickets and more – and that's a good thing.
Vehicles Integrating Siri Found in Apple Patent Regarding Hands Free Navigation
In January of this year we posted a report titled "Apple's Second Siri Patent Discusses All Things Hands-Free." In that report we pointed out that Siri could be headed for vehicles in the future. Earlier in that month, we posted a report titled "Apple introduces us to Siri, the Killer Patent." In that patent report we presented a patent from Honda that clearly illustrated that their future voice activated system would work with an iPod and it just happens to be that Honda, as you can see in Forstall's slide above, is one of nine car manufacturers that will offer Siri in their 2013 vehicles.
One passage from Apple's Siri patent stated that at least one intelligent automated assistant system configuration disclosed in the patent "may be configured or designed to include functionality for enabling the operation of applications and services via natural language dialog that may be otherwise provided by dedicated applications with graphical user interfaces including search (including location-based search); navigation (maps and directions) …" which is exactly what Forstall presented to us during his keynote in areas regarding Siri and Maps. The patent clearly goes on to present a flowchart illustrating Siri being embedded into automobile systems. So the context is 100% in line with Forstall's keynote. .
Augmented Reality, 3D Mapping and the Share Button Forecasted in Patents
Another area of interest in Forstall's keynote related to 3D mapping with augmented reality identification tags on buildings. When he demonstrated the new iOS feature called "Fly Over," he stated that we weren't looking at a movie but rather live mapping in real time. This was covered in one of Apple's patents about 3D live mapping. And in that same patent, we were first introduced to Apple's concept of the "share button," which is going to be a part of iOS 6 as noted in the red circle in the graphic below.
Turn by Turn Navigation Forecasted in Apple Patent
In August 2011 we posted a report titled "Apple to Advance their "Maps + Compass" Feature with Augmented Reality." The patent application stated that "directions could be overlaid onto the presently displayed video feed, thus showing a course and upcoming turns. As the user and associated device progress along a route, the overlaid directions could automatically update to show the updated path." Apple's iOS 6 will bring this to life later this year.
With Apple introducing turn by turn navigation to the iPhone in Q4 via iOS 6, there's still another patent that will be fulfilled at that time. It's one that we covered in our April 2012 report titled "Greater Magnetometer Mapping Accuracy Coming to iOS Devices." In order to have turn by turn accuracy, iOS devices will have to upgrade to a next generation magnetometer.
On the Hardware Front: Advanced Speaker System & More
In May we posted a report titled "Apple Reveals Surround Sound System for Future MacBook Pro." While the patent revealed Apple advancing the MacBook Pro's speaker system, I think that the new MacBook Pro slightly missed the mark. Okay, it really missed the mark (ha!) Yet realistically, was Jonathan Ive - Senior Vice President, Industrial Design, ever going to allow speakers to be integrated into the sides of the MacBook Pro display like the patent figures presented? Hmm: no. So while Apple provided a better stereo system for the MacBook Pro, it didn't deliver surround sound.
In respect to Apple's thinner MacBook design, we presented a report last October titled "Apple Working on a Thinner MacBook Pro Design." Yes Apple certainly accomplished that with their new MacBook Pro – but they didn't do it by retaining their optical drive as the patent suggested. They creatively, and I jest, ripped the optical drive right out of the new MacBook Pro. That's not exactly a great engineering feat in driving down the size of the MacBook Pro, but it certainly got the job done: ha!
Realistically, I don't think the competition will have too hard a time reducing their notebooks design to match Apple's if it simply means ripping out the optical drive. Then again, I'm not sure that it's time to rip the optical drive out of Window based notebooks just yet anyways. There are a lot of great games and software titles in DVD format that require an optical drive. Apple on the other hand wants you to only buy software through their online store. So they have a motive that's not necessarily in tune with their users.
And one more thing on the hardware front: On Sunday we asked the question "Is it Time for Apple to launch their Cellular MacBook Pro?" Obviously Apple had their plate full with the re-design of their new MacBook Pro and missed the opportunity of getting ahead of their competition by offering consumers and businesses LTE options like their iPad.
As a point of interest, we updated our report on Monday afternoon pointing out that Lenovo made it a point to launch such a service so as to rob Apple of saying that they were first to market with this feature. In a press release, Lenovo stated that their "cloud-based service, dubbed Lenovo Mobile Access, provides pre-connected, always-on, customizable connectivity to the Internet and corporate networks." Lenovo's ThinkPad Business Unit VP Dilip Bhatia, went on to state that "We live in a world where it's not only undesirable to be without online access, it's often disruptive to businesses." So it's a shame that Apple decided to pass on this feature because it's inevitably coming to a future MacBook Pro – and now should have been that time.
At the End of the Day
At the end of the day, it's exciting once again to see more of Apple's patent applications come to life. Year in and year out, we're able to see that patent applications have provided us with some exciting insights into what Apple's Crazy Ones are up to. This year is no exception.
This time around, Apple's extraordinarily detailed patent relating to tickets was definitely one of the big winners at Apple's World Wide Developer Conference. It's a patent that was published twenty-six months ago. In anyone's book, that's considered to be news well ahead of the curve - and contrary to what naysayers say about patents not being able to predict anything. Year and year out they're proven wrong.
An Apple patent on Siri foretold of it being embedded into vehicles and now we hear that nine car companies will offer Siri navigation services in 2013. Another Siri patent discussed turn by turn navigation and Forstall demonstrated that. Were these technologies and services predicted long before they were in the marketplace? – Of course. Only the blind and ignorant would see it otherwise.
At the end of the day, Apple's patents provided us with a heads-up on many of the features coming to iOS 6. And considering that these patent ideas took up about half of Forstall's keynote segment, I'd say that Apple's patents rocked. At the end of the day there's only one thing left to say: Cheers to Apple's Crazy Ones!