Apple looks to automate email sorting with intelligent messaging system

Posted:
in General Discussion edited January 2014
A patent filing published on Thursday reveals Apple's work on a priority-based messaging system that automatically sorts incoming messages according to a number of customizable variables.

Apple's application with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for "Addressee based message prioritization" describes a system that automatically sorts incoming email, texts or other digital messaging mediums according to a customizable rule set determined by how a sender addresses the recipient.

As the worldwide smartphone adoption rate rises, so too does the number of electronic messages being sent and received by the common consumer, with emails, texts and chats funneled onto one small-screened device. Apple's invention is intended to mitigate the problems associated with displaying these messages from family, friends and colleagues by offering an intelligent priority-based sorting method that can easily be customized to suit a user's needs.

While similar sorting methods exist in full-fledged desktop and internet clients, an intuitive solution has yet to make its way to portable devices, a market arguably in need of such a system. Apple's own OS X email client features "Smart Folders" and "VIPs" to parse out messages, but such a comprehensive system is somewhat involved and requires multiple steps to set up.

The proposed priority-based method, on the other hand, is almost entirely based on the addressee, with other data such as sender information factored in to offer a more complete user experience. For example, a message can be tagged depending on how the sender addresses their email. If an addressee's name is in the "To" field, it might get priority over an identical message that is carbon copied (CC) or blind carbon copied (BCC). Also taken into account is whether the addressee is part of a mailing group, which would result in a different prioritization than if they were the lone recipient.

Alternately, the user can prioritize messages based on the sender. For example, "the recipient user may specify that messages received from '[email protected]' should be adjusted upward one or more priority levels." The sender can be identified by name, email address or other means.

Setting Priority
Setting messaging priorities. | Source: USPTO


A user can customize the levels with which the system assigns priority by specifying a message hierarchy, or which type of addressing technique takes precedent over another. The method calls for a numbered hierarchy, such as 1 through 10 with 10 being the lowest priority, to easily flag the respective importance of a message. An email from work could be assigned a "1" while a mass advertisement would receive a "10."

Customizing the prioritization further, the patent explains that a combination of addressee and sender data fields can be used to properly assign a hierarchical value.

Once a message has been assigned a designated priority, it is then tagged by "highlighting, coloring, formatting, grouping and/or sorting" as specified by the user.

From the patent application's description:
For example, allowing the recipient-user to specify how messages should be presented to the recipient user may allow the recipient-user to quickly and easily identify messages that require immediate attention and response while deferring less urgent messages to a later time.
Sorting
Sorting based on message priority. | Source: USPTO


Thursday's patent filing appears to be a perfect fit for devices where screen size is limited, such as the iPhone and its 3.5-inch display, though the company has made no announcements regarding substantial changes to its iOS email client.

Apple is expected to be introducing the sixth-generation iPhone, widely rumored to be packing a larger 4-inch display, on Sept. 12 alongside iOS 6.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 19
    mauszmausz Posts: 243member


    Great, but first filter out spam messages based on simple subject or header rules.....


     


    seem to be a simple feature, but still lacking...

  • Reply 2 of 19
    blitz1blitz1 Posts: 412member


    A patent for filter and sort??? And that doesn't exist yet?

  • Reply 3 of 19
    I agree, sounds nice but there are some basics which could see more work first.
  • Reply 4 of 19
    rot'napplerot'napple Posts: 1,839member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Blitz1 View Post


    A patent for filter and sort??? And that doesn't exist yet?



     


    Those patented companies will come out of the woodwork only when Apple creates something based on theirs, so Apple as deep pockets can be sued.


    /


    /

  • Reply 5 of 19


    How about some simple country blocking for spam. I don't need any email from asia, russia or south america in my inbox.

  • Reply 6 of 19
    Great, they are just f******g around with the rules again.
  • Reply 7 of 19
    solipsismxsolipsismx Posts: 19,566member
    I understand that most people don't use them because they find them confusing so I''m fine with a new concept but i'd love for an Advanced option to use the basic rules we've had for decades on other mail systems.
  • Reply 8 of 19
    zozmanzozman Posts: 393member


    I'd love to have rules for iOS similar to outlook :)  

  • Reply 9 of 19
    charlitunacharlituna Posts: 7,215member
    mausz wrote: »
    Great, but first filter out spam messages based on simple subject or header rules.....

    seem to be a simple feature, but still lacking...

    It's there. It's not perfect but no ones is because they use caution so as to avoid 'spamming' a legit message.
  • Reply 10 of 19
    charlitunacharlituna Posts: 7,215member
    How about some simple country blocking for spam. I don't need any email from asia, russia or south america in my inbox.

    You can set your own rules.
  • Reply 11 of 19
    charlitunacharlituna Posts: 7,215member
    zozman wrote: »
    I'd love to have rules for iOS similar to outlook :)  

    How about just rules similar to mac mail in ios.
  • Reply 12 of 19
    tallest skiltallest skil Posts: 43,399member


    Originally Posted by Richard Torcato View Post

    How about some simple country blocking for spam. I don't need any email from asia, russia or south america in my inbox.


     


    Yeah, proxies sure don't exist. They can't get around that block in seconds. image


     


    Also note to self: Russia isn't in Asia… 

  • Reply 13 of 19
    andysolandysol Posts: 2,506member


    I'd love for my Mac Mail to sync with my iOS Mail through my AT&T account.  Still- everything I send via Mac Mail won't show up as "Sent" in my iOS Mail (or AT&T Mail via safari).  I have "Store sent messages on the server" checked... but it doesnt.

  • Reply 14 of 19
    zozmanzozman Posts: 393member
    charlituna wrote: »
    How about just rules similar to mac mail in ios.

    Haha, sure, any rules would be better than nothing.
  • Reply 15 of 19

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post


     


    Yeah, proxies sure don't exist. They can't get around that block in seconds. image


     


    Also note to self: Russia isn't in Asia… 



    Russia isn't in Asia? Who said it was? Learn to read ahole.

  • Reply 16 of 19

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Zozman View Post





    Haha, sure, any rules would be better than nothing.


     


     


    Exactly! and this is a good news... really interesting!

  • Reply 17 of 19

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Zozman View Post





    Haha, sure, any rules would be better than nothing.


    Exactly! and this is a good news... really interesting!

  • Reply 18 of 19


    Exactly! and this is a good news... really interesting!

  • Reply 19 of 19
    I guess it means all your existing IOS email apps are dead men walking or even have to be removed.


    Apple look to have killed off the computing industry the way this is going.
    Pegasus mail got there years and years ago.
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