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Apple Researching Geofencing Tech That Could Make Errands Easier

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Apple has a new patent application (via AppleInsider) that could make it easier to manage shared household tasks like picking up groceries or remembering to grab a bottle of wine on the way home. The patent request describes a way in which one user can grant access to their location data to another, sort of like how they currently can in Find My Friends, but with additional features that can send an alert to the person granted access when the first user does things like land within range of a grocery store.

The feature would allow for customized location notifications based on their movement through preset geofenced locales, meaning you’d get notifications on your device when the person sharing their location with you moves near certain landmarks, not just when they leave or arrive at a set destination, as is currently possible in Find My Friends. The device would offer a custom notification about the event depending on what kind of location it is, and you could then respond to that notice by sending a custom message to the user in motion, potentially with a route included to a new destination if you want them to, for instance, stop off at that nearby store for milk.

The interface included in the application allows you to specify time from a point of interest, and the broad category of POI to receive a notification. One you send that request to the person whose location you’re seeing, if they accept it, they’ll automatically receive a re-routed navigation option on their own device (presumably in Maps). You can imagine how handy this might be given further reach of CarPlay, for instance.

Another patent application also published today details how indoor location info can be shared via triangulation with indoor antennae, so you might even be able to get an aisle-by-aisle update of where people are heading within the store to add more specificity to your errand requests.

Of course, there’s no way to predict what patents or patent applications will or won’t make their way to shipping products, but this could be a good one to amp up Apple’s Proactive features down the road.