When your smartphone and automobile come up in conversation, too often the discussions center around texting while driving, or distracted driving. However, two patents submitted by Apple suggest the iPhone could become your car’s best friend – at least that’s the hope of the consumer tech giant.

The two patents filed with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office outline ways to replace your car’s key fob with the iPhone and a Bluetooth connection to remember your location in a crowded parking garage, as well as creating an intelligent car starter/theft prevention tool…

The first patent application appears to leverage Apple’s recent acquisition of WiFiSLAM, which produced a way to locate items while indoor.

Apple’s invention involves pairing your iPhone with your Bluetooth-enabled auto. That connection is then used to automatically – and that’s the key word – determine when your car slips into a parking spot. Once parked, the garage sends your iPhone data about the precise location.

Apple patent (car unlocking 004)

Finding your car then is just a simple case of using that location as a trail of breadcrumbs. While parking garages now make it simple to jot down the area (B4, for example), the hitch is remembering to make a note – this is the value of automatically receiving the data when you first arrive.

Apple patent (car unlocking 003)

Another related Apple patent application seeks to turn the iPhone into a Swiss Army knife of sorts for auto owners. That invention describes using a Bluetooth pairing between your smartphone and car that brings greater intelligence to the common tasks of remote door opening and starting.

Unlike current car key fobs where you simply push a button to open or start your auto, the smartphone would also allow you to set some parameters.

For instance, the patent could automatically unlock your car whenever it senses the phone within a certain distance. Another example could allow remote starting – but set the auto’s max speed to a crawl, perhaps slowing any potential car thief.

Apple patent (car unlocking 001)

Perhaps most intriguing for those of us parents who always considered giving our teens the remote starter is the potential to forbid use of car’s certain functions. A teen could turn on the heater in sub-zero winters, but not the radio, eliminating the mind-jangling ruckus before you’ve had a second cup of coffee.

The patent application appear to describe useful technology. Unclear is whether you want the iPhone to add yet more functionality. However, such a smart fob could spur development of the iWatch.

This could also open up greater licensing possibilities for Apple, providing the technology to car makers, who could them embed the ideas into their own products.

  • I love technology!!

  • iWatch and BS like this show Tim Cook needs to go. There is only one product that matters to me as a shareholder and that’s iTV. They could have made a hostile bid for Netflix last year at $15 billion and had the company.

    • Most of Apple’s ideas have years and years and years of planning behind them before they go public. And the “BS” and “iWatch” shit is all speculation and rumors that haven’t been proven true. If you know Apple, you know they are secretive, and silent. So saying He should be fired for products that don’t exist yet is kind of funny. And we both know these aren’t his ideas.

  • Well it’s about time somebody jumped on this. I’m glad the company with some quality control is the one who did to. But I can think of some really scary results on the security side of things. I love jail breaking, but for me to trust this, apple would have to lock iOS down tight. iOS would have to be an impenetrable wall. So that would kill the jailbreak relm of iOS. But perhaps apple could remedy this by adding a little more customization options to the os.

    • Haha not that apple would actually ever increase customization options. But a guy can dream.

    • i totally agree but if they lock down iOS even more like that, they most likely wouldn’t throw in customization, Apple wants it done their way, so they can control (and possibly protect) products we use. Even if that costs us customization, at least it doesn’t cost me my credit card number or my S.S.N.

  • Or they could implement these into that new Volkswagen iBeetle

  • I can see this being a good idea but only if Apple opens it up to everyone, effectively standardising it for the rest of the world like they were supposed to be doing for FaceTime. Apples services are great but suck in some areas as they only play well with iOS and Mac.

  • Meh, this is already possible with simple add ons, like Automatic, in old vehicles…not worth buying a new car for.

    • Boss

      steal the phone, steal the car, rob the house

      welcome to the new iCrime