Today, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office published a patent application from Apple titled "detecting stowing or unstowing of a mobile device." The invention solves two common problems or annoyances. The first is to stop the user from accidentally sending a 'butt call.' Sometimes these calls are funny, sometimes they're not. How do you know if that call from your wife or significant other isn't one being made in distress and they just can't communicate with you? The second problem solved by this invention is saving a user time turning on their iPhone after it's been pulled from a pocket and it's asleep. The invention works with a user wearing an Apple Watch. If a message or email comes in, the user gets the alert on their Apple Watch and before the user pulls their iPhone out from their purse of pocket to access the message, the Apple Watch has already communicated with the iPhone to have it turned on and have it set with the mail or message interface instantly in place without having to key in a password so that the user could get right to the message instantly and seamlessly.
Apple notes that many mobile devices can go into an inactive state when unused for a period of time, such as often happens when a user stows a device. In an inactive state, the device may, for example, power down user interface components or other components to conserve power, the device may also "lock" its user interface such that the user is required to present a credential (e.g., enter a passcode) prior to operating the device. A user who picks up a stowed mobile device typically has to operate a control (e.g., press a wake-up button) and present a credential (assuming the device is locked) in order to return the device to active state prior to interacting with it. This can make mobile devices less convenient to use. Conversely, if the user does not remember to return the mobile device to an inactive state before stowing it after use, the mobile device may be inadvertently operated, e.g., by bumping against other objects in the user's bag or pocket. This can waste battery power and/or result in unintended actions of which the user might not even be aware, such as placing phone calls or inadvertently modifying data stored on the device.
Certain embodiments of the present invention can facilitate user interaction with a mobile device by automatically detecting when a stowed mobile device becomes unstowed (removed from a stowage location) and/or when a mobile device that is in use become stowed (placed in a stowage location). Such detection can be accomplished, e.g., using a wearable device that is capable of communicating with the user's mobile device. The wearable device, which can be physically attached to the user's person (e.g., by a strap or clip or the like) during use, and the mobile device can communicate to determine when the user has unstowed the mobile device, and in response to this determination, the mobile device can prepare itself for user interaction. For instance, the mobile device can activate its user interface and/or unlock itself.
In some embodiments, in response to detection of an unstowing event, the mobile device can prepare itself for use based in part on context information provided by the wearable device. For example, the wearable device may have recently presented information (e.g., an alert about an incoming message or call) to the user and/or received input from the user (e.g., a request to view or create content, such as replying to an email). The wearable device can provide to the mobile device context information indicating its own state (e.g., what information it is presenting or what user input has been received), and from this information, the mobile device can infer the user's likely intent in removing the mobile device from stowage and prepare itself accordingly. Thus, for example, if the wearable device has alerted the user to an incoming message that is viewable using a social networking app, the mobile device can prepare itself by launching the social networking app and navigating to a screen that displays the incoming message.
In some embodiments, the wearable device and mobile device can also communicate to detect when the user stows the mobile device. Similarly to detecting unstowing events, the devices can use correlations, or loss of correlations, between data from corresponding sensors of the two devices; decreased proximity between the devices; and/or other information to determine that the user has stowed the mobile device. In response to determining that the mobile device has been stowed, the mobile device's user interface can be powered down, the device can be placed in a locked state, and/or other actions can be taken to prevent inadvertent or unauthorized operation of the mobile device.
Apple's patent FIG. 1 presented below shows a wearable device/Apple Watch communicating wirelessly with a mobile device/iPhone; FIG. 9 shows a user interface screen for the Apple Watch; FIG 10 shows a user interface of the iPhone receiving and displaying the message first received by Apple Watch; FIG. 14 is a flow diagram of a process for detecting removal of an iPhone from stowage (pocket or purse) and preparing the interface to be instantly on with the waiting message first detected by the Apple Watch; FIGS. 5A and 5B show an example of a user removing a mobile device from stowage in a bag. In FIG. 5A, the user is reaching into a bag, and in FIG. 5B, the iPhone has been removed from the bag and positioned for instant use.
Apple's patent FIG. 2 above is an overview of a possible future Apple Watch system. Wearable device #100 (Apple Watch) can be implemented using electronic components disposed within the face portion of the watch and/or the strap #106.
Apple's patent application 20160277891 was filed in Q2 2016. Considering that this is a patent application, the timing of such a product to market is unknown at this time.
Patently Apple presents a detailed summary of patent applications with associated graphics for journalistic news purposes as each such patent application is revealed by the U.S. Patent & Trade Office. Readers are cautioned that the full text of any patent application should be read in its entirety for full and accurate details. About Making Comments on our Site: Patently Apple reserves the right to post, dismiss or edit any comments. Those using abusive language or behavior will result in being blacklisted on Disqus.