Apple patents hint at more passive location-based services

Apple’s latest load of patent applications isn’t terribly exciting, but I’m guessing that they’re finally aligning with our long-held conviction that the social or location layer in a phone should be at the OS level, not the app level. Who better to put that theory to the test than Apple, who control their whole platfom from tip to tail?

Here are some key points from the patent:

The content received at the device is displayed on the device only while the device is at or near a particular location identified by the location information.

…when the mobile device is within a range of the wireless access point, presenting content on the mobile device associated with the URL; andupon user selection of the content, receiving an application for execution on the mobile device. (sounds like localized iAds to me)

…a user interface operable to present the received content on the device when the device is at or near a location identified by the location information.

The system of claim 24, wherein the content comprises video content, picture content, audio content, multimedia content or routing content associated with a geographical area within a proximate distance to the device based on the location information.

It’s for the patent office to decide, but I’d say that these patents (like so many) may turn out to be rather broad depending on how they’re interpreted. As long as the “system” merely refers to Apple’s implementation of such a system, I wouldn’t worry. But if Apple were to claim they have a patent on location-based ads like this (they’re not, but I see such an eventuality as possible) that’d be pretty big.

I don’t think it has anything to do with the new iPhone, and everything to do with iAd. You’re walking through a mall, your phone makes a pop-up say “Hey, show this to the cashier at GameStop and save 15% off your purchase!” — that’s the implementation I see happening. Not so bad, is it? Oh, it is?

Also… that schematic iPhone looks like a tallboy.

[via MacNN]