Apple was recently awarded US Patent No. 8,989,773 for “Sharing location information among devices,” which describes a method by which an iPhone or cellular-connected iPad can, after authorization, be provided location and path information from another Apple device. What makes the patent interesting is that the data is visualized as a route on a mapping app such as Apple Maps, allowing the first user to follow the second user in real time, which takes things to a whole new level with path tracking and route following.

As of right now with Find My Friends, users can share their location with others based on a set of rules. An example of this would be a user sharing their specific location for a set amount of time while more advanced features allow parents to keep track of children using geofence-based alerts. With the recent patent things are taken one step further and add path data into the mix. This was previously supported in certain apps but many of the mainstream solutions forego the feature mainly due to privacy concerns. That being said, path data can be a powerful navigation aid.

Described in the patent is the ability for a user to grant another user or group access to streaming path data over any number of communications platforms. Cellular wireless is mentioned as is routing data through cloud services such as iCloud. Other embodiments call for direct peer-to-peer communications via Bluetooth. Along with a current location marker, the first user can broadcast previous positions that show up as a route on the second device. In addition to the first device’s location and path, a suitable user interface would reveal that the position o the second device in relation to the generated route.

Another one of the outlined features was “mirroring” mode, which lets another user see exactly what the first user is looking at on the screen including map features, points of interest and other data all the way down to zoom level. A third mode configures the second device’s UI to receive directions that lead to a location provided by the first device. Other features include sending voice or text messages back and forth between devices, which are useful for warning followers of upcoming navigation issues.

Apple’s recent friend tracking patent was first fled for in January of 2013 with credits going to Eran Sandel, Elad harsh and Roman Guy as its inventors.

How do you feel about Apple potentially utilizing the technology?

Source: USPTO via AppleInsider