Apple patent wants iPhones to exchange your GPS location with iWatch?


Apple Tuesday was issued an interesting patent that could relate to recent headlines about a device known as the iWatch. The patent approved by the United State Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) describes an “accessory device” that could receive GPS data from your iPhone. For some time, speculation has surrounded Apple was working on a wristwatch device that can communicate with your smartphone or iPad.

According to the patent, location data could be transmitted either wirelessly or through a hard connection, displaying either a map with navigation or simply points of interest. The technology permits either data to be sent from the iPhone to an accessory device, from the accessory device to the iPhone or to whichever device is deemed most accurate…

The idea isn’t new and Apple’s devices have been able to exchange location data between themselves by way of iMessage, email and other ‘wireless’ means. What’s interesting is how Apple illustrates and describes this technology in its filing.

Although Apple’s U.S. Patent No. 8,386,677 for “Communicating location information between a portable device and an accessory” was filed back in 2009, the display has intrigued some observers, who feel the technology could be related to this year’s talk of an iWatch, a rumored Apple-branded smartwatch that the company kinda outlined in another patent filing.

Apple patent 8386677 (drawing 002)
Though the patent drawing above outlines a square-shaped accessory device, it could really be anything, including an iOS-powered smartwatch.

At the heart of the iWatch speculation is a “dumb” device that would simply receive data from an iPhone or iPad stowed in a purse or backpack. If you were searching for an address, you could look at your watch for directions, is just one of many possible uses.

Others include sending your iPhone the GPS coordinates of a favorite restaurant, or be alerted to when a friend is nearby, both more or less implemented in iOS and Apple’s free Find My Friends app.

The following patent drawing illustrates a scenario where the iPhone acts as an accessory device.

Apple patent 8386677 (drawing 001)

We also reported yesterday on another patent Apple was awarded, this one designed to anticipate your iPhone usage and automatically take action. As we commented at the time, this latest spate of patents suggests the company understands the iPhone and iPad has become fully embedded in everyday life, though that’s no guarantee that the company will actually implement these ideas in real-life products.