Home Apple Gets a Patent for Sharing Location Data During Calls

Apple Gets a Patent for Sharing Location Data During Calls

Apple just received a very interesting patent for a method of sharing location data during a phone call. Assuming that Apple implements this idea in its phones, you could soon press a button during a phone call on your iPhone and request location data from the person you are talking to. Judging from the description of this new feature in the patent, the receiver would always have to give permission before the data is sent back to you.

In the graphs that accompany Apple’s patent, buttons to request and release location info can be found right underneath the standard iPhone phone interface. If Apple decides to implement this, the feature would work like this:

During a call, you send out a request to get your friend’s exact location by pressing a button on the phone interface. Your friend would get an alert and gets the choice to send his location data back to you or to ignore your request. Assuming your friend wants to share his location with you, you will then get an alert with your friend’s location.

Thanks to this, you wouldn’t have to try to give long-winded and error-prone descriptions of where you are when you plan to meet up with a friend in the city, for example.

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Reading through the patent, it quickly becomes clear that Apple is quite concerned with the privacy aspects of sharing location data. This makes sense, given that sharing location data has privacy implications that go far beyond just sharing what you had for lunch.

It is worth noting that MobileMe users can already check where their phones are at any given point and that all the necessary hardware to implement this feature is already available in every iPhone.

We also couldn’t help be feel reminded of Echoecho, an iPhone app for sharing location data we profiled just about a week ago. Echoecho allows users to share location data on a one-on-one basis. Unlike Apple’s patent, Echoecho’s permission-based location sharing system isn’t based solely around sharing this data in the context of a phone call, but otherwise, the two seems quite similar.

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