Apple Patent Points to New Friend Matching Feature

Apple hasn’t had much success with social networking in the past. Remember Ping, Apple’s ill-fated attempt at bringing music fans and the artists they love closer together? No, probably not. It’s still sitting there though, kinda hidden inside iTunes just waiting for someone to stumble upon it.

If a new patent filing by Apple is to be believed, it seems the smartphone, computer, and now tablet giant may be looking into the whole ‘bringing people together’ idea once more; this time by using your phone as a way to find like-minded people…

The new patent proposes that the current method of making friends is just too darn difficult for us mere mortals to fathom, and that, obviously, we need a little help.

“Social networks are a well known phenomenon, and various electronic systems to support social networking are known. Growing a social network can mean that a person needs to discover like-minded or compatible people who have similar interests or experiences to him or her. Identifying like-minded people, however, often requires a substantial amount of and time and effort because identifying new persons with common interests for friendships is difficult. For example, when two strangers meet, it may take a long and awkward conversation to discover their common interests or experiences.”

The idea is both simple and hugely complicated at the same time.

According to the patent, Apple plans to use the information already in our iPhones to find new, cuddly friends for us to meet. The songs we like, the places we’ve been, and much more can all be worked out using data inside our handsets, and Apple hopes to use that to find people we might like.

Could Apple be the new eHarmony, perhaps?

“Common interests and experiences of two or more users located close to each other can be identified from content, including automatically created usage data of the mobile devices. Usage data of a mobile device can be created based on activities performed on the mobile device (e.g., songs downloaded), a trajectory of the mobile device (e.g., places traveled), or other public data available from the mobile device (e.g., pictures shared).”

As MacRumors points out, it’s only safe to assume that such data mining will be opt-in rather than opt-out, in order to avoid a Facebook-level privacy nightmare. But we can’t help but think that the idea of our iPhones finding new buddies for us will creep people out a little.

What do you think? Would you trust your iDevice to point you in the direction of new friends, or even true love?