Apple invention would let you check the status of another iPhone user
A newly-published patent application outlines a method to check the availability of another iPhone user that you want to call.
Apple has envisioned a way to see if a fellow iPhone user is free to talk before you even complete the call.
Published Thursday by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, a patent appropriately called “Methods to determine availability of user based on mobile phone status,” describes just that process.
How many times do you call someone only to get dumped into voice
mail? Maybe the person isn’t available or is in a dead zone or has just
turned on Airplane mode. Apple’s proposed invention seeks to eliminate
that uncertainty by alerting you to the person’s status right off the
To accomplish this feat, a person’s iPhone would talk to Apple on the
backend to report its status and call preferences. Such settings as
location, signal strength, battery life, and mode (Normal, Airplane, or
Vibration) would be sent to Apple’s servers. A fellow iPhone user who
attempts to call that person would see the status of the callee’s phone
on the screen and can then decide whether to complete the call.
In essence, your phone would borrow a key feature from instant
messaging in which you can see if someone is online, offline, free, or
As Apple describes it in typical patent language:
A command is received at an operating system of a first
mobile phone for displaying contact information of a remote user having a
mobile phone number of a second mobile phone. In response to the
command, a request is transmitted to a remote server from the first
mobile phone over a cellular network requesting an operating status of
the second mobile phone. The operating status of the second mobile phone
is received from the remote server over the cellular network. The
operating status of the second mobile phone is displayed on a display of
the first mobile phone as a part of contact information of the remote
user associated with the second mobile phone, where the operating status
includes current locality of the second mobile phone.
Such an invention does bring up privacy issues. What if you don’t
want Apple and other people to know your status? Assuming this feature
ever even sees the light of day, Apple would presumably offer you a way
to simply turn it off.