As Apple Inc. continues with developments for the forthcoming iPhone 7, two intriguing new iOS patents have emerged. The latest approved patents will enable users to send real-time tracking notifications, and also give devices the ability to track users indoors.
According to the publication Apple Insider, the items in question will act as a tweak to the existing Find My Friends app. The patent which is titled “Customization location notification” will enable users to request notifications based on the movement of their specified friends and family members. Once this request has been accepted, notifications will be sent to the user once the individual being tracked crosses a certain ‘geofence boundary’.
Apple applies for so many patents that it cannot be guaranteed that this latest technology will crop up in the iPhone series in the immediate future. But it does more or less seem to fit in with plans that Apple has for this operating system. In the run up to the unveiling of the iOS 9 operating system, it was repeatedly reported that Apple intended to improve tracking and smartphone functionality.
iBeacons will also play a significant part in the future of Apple, as this technology is expected to become increasingly important in the future of smartphones. iBeacons play a major role in the Apple Pay mobile payment system, and also have the capabilities to offer particularly intelligent forms of marketing. iBeacons can be utilized to distribute targeted advertisements to users in real-time based on their physical location, and it is expected to become an increasingly crucial part of marketing in the coming years.
Of course, some users will have reservations about all of this tracking technology. Consumer electronics companies have generally been criticized for collating too much data on their users, but Apple has to some degree sought to separate itself from Google Inc. in this department. Certainly there will be question marks about the extent to which iBeacons contribute to this process.
Additionally, the concept of being bombarded with advertising, as companies continually track your physical location will not appeal to all consumers. Thus, Apple, and other manufacturers which are intending to utilize similar technology, Ihave already moved to ensure users that such forms of marketing will always remain optional.
Nonetheless, there is no doubt that the ability to track people indoors will be a significant step forward for iBeacon technology. The second patent that Apple has apparently applied for, which is titled “Indoor remote triggered location scanning,” describes a technology that allows your location to be tracked inside buildings.
The ability to send geofenced location data could become a simple way to let people know how close you are to a particular location or meeting place with having the need to send texts. This could be particularly useful when driving, for example, and could enhance the ability for iPhone users to communicate with one another.
As Apple continues to develop the iBeacon system and work on its technology internally, there is little doubt that the corporation will be monitoring the response to this concept. The millennial generation in particular is accustomed to being bombarded with advertising, and this younger demographic is also extremely enthusiastic about smartphone platforms. It is absolutely possible that the core audience for these latest patents will be enthusiastic about them as opposed to concerned, but Apple will nonetheless be tracing the perception of iBeacon technology very closely.
The concept of the privacy and security of mobile applications has undoubtedly been brought into sharp focus by Edward Snowden and the revelations which he brought to light related to the National Security Agency. The behavior of the NSA has drawn quite warranted criticism from consumers, journalists and technology experts, and the last thing that Apple wants to do is find itself holding a political hot potato that it has committed itself to economically.
Nonetheless, companies are already experimenting with iBeacon technology. As mentioned previously, the technology is utilized in mobile payment systems, which are expected to become massive in the coming years. Some of the bolder predictions related to mobile payments have suggested that they will completely surpass cash and credit cards by the end of the decade. This is surely optimistic based on the current level of take-up, but what is more likely is that this will be a multi-billion dollar industry by 2020.
Meanwhile, the travel industry in particular has showed great interest in iBeacon technology. It is thought that the capabilities of this particular form of technology will be particularly well suited to the travel industry, with travel-related businesses able to deliver constant updates to travelers while they are away from home. Additionally, airlines are progressing with the technology in order to facilitate the airport experience of customers. Mobile boarding passes and baggage drop technology that is compatible with iBeacon is currently being trialled at numerous airports across the world.
Meanwhile, recent reports have suggested that Apple will release the iPhone 7 during 2015. There has been some debate over the previous months as to whether Apple would dub its next smartphone release iPhone 7, or instead opt for an iPhone 6s label which indicated that it was an update from last year’s iPhone 6. But it looks increasingly unlikely that Apple will opt for an iPhone 7 branding, indicating that the next smartphone release from the consumer electronics giant will be a significant one.
Whether this indicates that the latest patents and technologies will be included in the next-generation smartphone is doubtful, but Apple is obviously working to an extremely tight schedule. With the iPhone 7 possibly due to be unveiled in just a couple of months’ time, it seems unlikely that this functionality will make the cus, even though it does fit in with the general ethos of iOS 9.
But what can be said for the future is that Apple has put in place tracking technology which will enable it to deliver a much deeper experience with the iPhone series. In the meantime, the corporation will continue to assess the right time to introduce it.