Apple looks to patent iPhone status sharing system similar to instant messaging apps

Posted:
in General Discussion edited January 2014
An Apple patent application published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on Thursday shows a system in which a caller can check another user's iPhone's status, that is whether a user is available to talk, before placing a call, in some ways like the "away" feature seen in IM clients.

Phone Status
Source: USPTO


Apple's patent filing, descriptively titled "Methods to determine availability of user based on mobile phone status," outlines a system that would make it easier for a caller to decide whether or not a callee is available to talk.

The idea is simple and very much like an augmented version of the "Available/Away/Offline" system used by many instant messaging programs, including Apple's own iMessage. On IM, users can see at a glance if a contact is free to chat or if they are busy through user-defined and shared presence and availability settings.

Apple points out in the document that cell phones users have the ability to screen calls by using caller ID services, but existing methods are inefficient for both callers and those who may receive calls at an inopportune time.

From the patent's background:
In particular, for most callees, the only available actions are to accept the call or decline it by either not answering or allowing an answering machine or voice mail system to respond. The caller in such cases has no control over whether or not the call will be accepted.
Apple says advanced caller ID systems offer a certain level of interactivity in call screening, but are also insufficient, especially for callers.

Instead, Apple proposes a mechanism that automatically shares a phone's operational status or "state" to would-be callers, replacing the conventional presence and availability options users set manually.

Phone Status


In use, a handset reports its operating status, state and condition to a cellular network's server. Examples of statuses include current operating mode (such as "ringer" or "vibration"), current location, cellular signal strength and battery life, among others. These functions are reported based on a user's sharing preferences or a device's global settings.

When a caller attempts to make a call, their handset queries the network server for the operating status of the callee's mobile device. Depending on the server's response, the caller's contact list displays the most recent status information alongside a party's phone number.

Armed with the remotely acquired data, the caller can decide whether to make the call or switch to another mode of communication, such as text messaging.

The filing notes that the process takes place largely in the background, with user interaction kept to a minimum. In other words, device owners simply set preferences and sharing policies on their iPhone, which then reports to the server at preset intervals. On the caller's side, the devices retrieve and display a contact's operating status data automatically.

Phone Status


While it is unclear whether Apple plans to use the operating status technology, the company is certainly capable of deploying the system as described. With privacy and device tracking issues being a hotly debated topic, however, it is unlikely that the method will be available anytime soon.

Apple's device status reporting patent application was first filed for in 2012 and credits Devrim Varoglu and Swapnil R. Dave as its inventors.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 21
    philboogiephilboogie Posts: 7,438member
    Some will call patents like this one "evolution, not revolution", "nothing new", "existed on IM for years" and so on. I applaud Apple for doing, researching stuff like this. They think about usability, unlike the competition, who seems to do nothing other than tick off checklists. And Apple.

    They can even take this further; parents wanting to call their kid and override a 'do not disturb' setting which is 'Parental Controlled' on the kids iPhone.
  • Reply 2 of 21
    dugbugdugbug Posts: 283member
    Like random access voice mail this looks to be one of those "why do we not have this now" type of patents. If IM users can say "busy" why can't it work for calling too. Good show apple.
  • Reply 3 of 21
    d4njvrzfd4njvrzf Posts: 797member


    Android devices have displayed gchat statuses in the system-wide contacts list for a while. I suppose the novelty here is doing the same thing with phone statuses?

  • Reply 4 of 21
    arlorarlor Posts: 498member


    Imagine if the first instant messaging company to develop online/busy status notification had patented it. 

  • Reply 5 of 21


    I want this immediately. Why don't we have this already?



    As an instructor I wish my students all had it. My wife is a teacher and it would help. I'm always wondering if I should call or message people.



    In addition, parents need a way to ring through (with a potentially urgent and louder ring) for emergencies and "You're in deep trouble" moments.

     


    Sooner the better on this one.

  • Reply 6 of 21
    @d4njvrzf and iChat always had this and much more since it came out in 2002,
    then a year later it added AV. So what's your point!?

    When Apple was making the iPhone they were refused the use of iChat that's why they went with Yahoo chat. Also this gave them new work in creating Messages specifically for iPhone.
  • Reply 7 of 21
    tallest skiltallest skil Posts: 43,399member

    Originally Posted by PhilBoogie View Post


    Some will call patents like this one "evolution, not revolution", "nothing new", "existed on IM for years" and so on. I applaud Apple for doing, researching stuff like this. They think about usability, unlike the competition, who seems to do nothing other than tick off checklists. And Apple. They can even take this further; parents wanting to call their kid and override a 'do not disturb' setting which is 'Parental Controlled' on the kids iPhone.




    Originally Posted by dugbug View Post

    Like random access voice mail this looks to be one of those "why do we not have this now" type of patents. If IM users can say "busy" why can't it work for calling too. Good show apple.


     


    This is absolutely huge; you're both right. It shouldn't be—it should be effing common sense and provided by the telecom itself—but since Apple's the only one who seems to be doing any actual invention or innovation anymore, we'll get it from them.


     


    Watch, since visual voicemail was copied, this will be, too. Except it won't be compatible across platforms. You wait. imageimage

  • Reply 8 of 21


    Apple doesn't innovate...blah blah blah....Tim Cook is useless....blah blah blah....Apple can't succeed without Steve Jobs....blah blah blah.....Apple is doomed....blah blah blah. The iHaters only see what they want to see. And they call us sheep.

  • Reply 9 of 21
    philboogiephilboogie Posts: 7,438member
    Watch, since visual voicemail was copied, this will be, too.

    To be accurate, Apple licensed VV from Klausner. They were however the first company to implement it on a cell phone
  • Reply 10 of 21
    droidftwdroidftw Posts: 1,009member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post


    Watch, since visual voicemail was copied, this will be, too.


     


    Something like this already exists on Android and has for years.

  • Reply 11 of 21
    tallest skiltallest skil Posts: 43,399member

    Originally Posted by DroidFTW View Post


    Something like this already exists on Android and has for years.



     


    Blah de FRICKING blah. Prove it.

  • Reply 12 of 21
    droidftwdroidftw Posts: 1,009member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post


     


    Blah de FRICKING blah. Prove it.



     


    You want a screenshot of my contacts so you can see the busy or available symbol next to them?  lol

  • Reply 13 of 21
    tallest skiltallest skil Posts: 43,399member

    Originally Posted by DroidFTW View Post


    You want a screenshot of my contacts so you can see the busy or available symbol next to them?  lol



     


    It's not like image editing software exists or anything. Oh, and if it's already a feature, you should be able to find a screenshot of the same somewhere online without compromising your own security. I don't care about your contacts, but wouldn't want you to just post them willy-nilly anyway.

  • Reply 14 of 21
    droidftwdroidftw Posts: 1,009member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post


     


    It's not like image editing software exists or anything. Oh, and if it's already a feature, you should be able to find a screenshot of the same somewhere online without compromising your own security. I don't care about your contacts, but wouldn't want you to just post them willy-nilly anyway.



     


    I'm not sure why you think someone would lie about something so trivial, but here you go.  One is set to available and the other is set to busy.


     


  • Reply 15 of 21
    d4njvrzfd4njvrzf Posts: 797member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by DroidFTW View Post


     


    I'm not sure why you think someone would lie about something so trivial, but here you go.  One is set to available and the other is set to busy.



     


    Here's the contacts list in stock android (source: http://developer.android.com/design/media/multipane_views.png):


     


     


     


    An implementation of apple's claims would presumably display an additional dot or otherwise indicate the contact's phone status. I suppose the novelty of the claims would lie in the back-end implementation.

  • Reply 16 of 21
    tallest skiltallest skil Posts: 43,399member

    Originally Posted by DroidFTW View Post


    I'm not sure why you think someone would lie about something so trivial, but here you go.  One is set to available and the other is set to busy.



     


    And so what does that then imply, from a standpoint of activity?

  • Reply 18 of 21
    droidftwdroidftw Posts: 1,009member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by d4NjvRzf View Post



    I suppose the novelty of the claims would lie in the back-end implementation.


     


    That's my understanding as well.  There's more than one way to skin a cat and Apple has now patented one of those ways.

  • Reply 19 of 21
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 20,615member
    droidftw wrote: »
    That's my understanding as well.  There's more than one way to skin a cat and Apple has now patented one of those ways.

    ...applied for a patent. It hasn't yet been granted and no assurance it will.
  • Reply 20 of 21
    Something like this already exists and it's free on the App store!! We released Sensser earlier this year, and it will soon be cross-platform across iOS, Android, Windows and RIM phones.

    Website: http://www.sensser.com/
    iTunes link: https://itunes.apple.com/au/app/sensser/id605919181?mt=8&ign-mpt=uo=2


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