Apple had some new patent applications related to wearables published today (via AppleInsider) and they all deal with a system in which the iPhone acts as a hub that collects data from sensors in wristbands and other types of accessories to automatically track user activity level and set alarms, notifications, and other device settings based on what it sense about a device owner’s current behavior.
This would let it do things like disable Do Not Disturb if it detects that a user has woken from sleep early, despite any hardwired schedule settings, for instance. Another patent describes how sensors combined with an iPhone hub could figure out that there’s another person in bed with a user, and change their alarm from an audible alert to a vibration response on a worn bracelet (or an iWatch?) instead to respect the other person’s own sleep preferences.
In terms of activity tracking, the new patents would allow an iPhone to automatically monitor different kinds of activities just based on monitored user behavior – so if you start a run, it would begin logging that data, specific to that activity type, and even give you information about other factors associated with the activity, like whether it was indoors, outdoors or in what weather conditions. Activity and setting info could also tell a user what kinds of activities they should consider when on vacation, for instance, based on health and vitals as well as climate.
Paired with the revelation yesterday that iOS 8 includes code referencing a barometer and air pressure sensor to be included potentially in an iPhone 6, this patent system begins to seem very real. Apple is almost definitely working on an iWatch, too, so this is one case where its R&D work might indeed be something that’s indicative of upcoming product pipeline.