Letting your unanswered phone ring until it goes to voice mail when you are unavailable may soon become an annoying habit of the past if Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) decides to implement a newly patented mobile phone status system. In a recently published patent uncovered by Apple Insider, Apple outlines a simple and intuitive method for determining if an iPhone user is available.
In the abstract for the aptly titled ”Methods to Determine Availability of User Based on Mobile Phone Status” patent, Apple describes how the “operating status” of one mobile phone is transmitted to another from a remote server. This transmitted information informs the user whether or not the other iPhone user is currently available.
In the background description of the patent, Apple notes that, “For most callees, the only available actions are to accept the call or decline it by either not answering or allowing an answering machine or voice mail system to respond. The caller in such cases has no control over whether or not the call will be accepted.”
However, Apple’s new status notification system allows a callee to limit their availability by automatically transmitting their “operating status” to a potential caller without having to actually initiate a call. The caller is also given greater control since they are able to determine via the notification system if a callee is available at any given time.
Although mobile phones already have a Caller ID function, Apple notes that using Caller ID alone gives callees “very few options to manage the call.” However, Apple’s proposed method allows a user to passively share a greater variety of information, including the phone’s mode (normal, airplane, or vibration), time zone, GPS location, signal strength, and battery condition.
Despite the fact that users will have the option to share all of this information, they can also limit the amount of information they wish to share based on their preferences. This raises the possibility that users may also be able to set a different iPhone operating status for different callers.
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