Apple Files Patent For IPhone Away Messages

Want people to know if you're busy before they call? Apple has submitted a patent filing to allow iPhones to reflect when users are available.

Has someone ever tried to call you during a business meeting, or at the movies? If you're an iPhone user, chances are you've had to deal with the subsequent blare of marimbas ringing out. Conversely, if you need to call someone, how can you be sure you're not interrupting them? Apple might be working on a solution to this dilemma.

The company has made a new patent filing titled, "Methods To Determine Availability Of User Based On Mobile Phone Status," which the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office published today.

The patent filing, first spotted by AppleInsider, outlines a method that lets would-be callers know their recipient's availability before they place the call. Think of it as the iPhone version of the status messages you can put up on instant messaging services to indicate whether you're available, busy, or offline. Of course, you could just turn your phone on silent (or turn it off completely).

The difference is, Apple is suggesting this iPhone status could share much more information than just whether or not you're "busy"; it could also share your time zone, GPS location, and current battery condition with the people trying to call you. Users would be able to control which information they'd want to share with others, but the point is that your phone would broadcast all this information largely automatically, which is bound to bring up privacy concerns over just how much callers know about what you're up to at all times.

[Image: Flickr user Kris Krug]

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