Apple patent: Social network information sync

Apple patent highlights Facebook

Apple has been attempting to gain traction in the mobile space since the iPod’s inception back in 2001. Obviously, they have made some great strides in this domain and the latest is this new patent, which effectively is syncing of ‘social network items’ between differing devices.

Some of the examples that they give are ‘contact information, calendar appointments, and to-do lists’. These seem like some reasonable items to want to sync between two different iPhone OS devices. I know I would love to have all of my pictures and application data synced between my iPhone and my iPad, however this is not the main intent of the patent. The main intent is “Apple’s Goal is to Simplify Social Networking Exchanges”.

To me this means Apple is looking to create an App (no doubt they are already working on this) that would allow for such synchronization. The basic idea is not much different than the current syncing model used for your iPhone OS devices and iTunes. You have the initiator (iTunes) and the target device (iPhone OS device). With this model you would replace iTunes with a ‘primary’ iPhone OS device (iPhone) with the target device being another iPhone OS device (iPad).

Now you may be asking yourself where could this be useful. There are a couple of examples; one being a household where it would transfer a shopping list between a housekeeper and employer (seems a bit of a stretch given the economy, but ok). The second, and more plausible example, is at a school where a student could turn in their homework, sync a schedule or add a contact. The second example seems more likely as to what is to be expected and a potential use case.

I can see classrooms from elementary school all the way through college where this could easily become a viable mechanism to turn in assignments. Couple this app with the ability for teachers to customize where the documents go (say a network shared folder), and then throw in some custom programming (or maybe just some AppleScript) for these files to automatically be sent to a service that checks for plagiarism. In the event of a hit, an email or even a push notification could be automatically sent to the teacher with the finalized report. Automation at its finest. This is how technology should work for everybody, not just those who are able to piece it all together.

Workflow Menu Screen

We may never see this come to fruition, but it is rather interesting to see what Apple may possibly have in-store for a future OS release.

Images and article via Patently Apple

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