updated 12:30 pm EDT, Thu August 27, 2009
Apple contact list patent
A newly-published Apple patent application suggests that the company may have a deeper interest in social networking than previously recognized. Titled Event-based contact list methods, the application describes a public website intended to organize an event, such as a wedding or school reunion. As with many such social networking sites, visitors could add personal contact information in order to get in touch with one another.
To prevent harassment a contact list could be set to "fade in" information, for instance only displaying one person's phone number after they have replied to a second person's e-mail message. Some contact methods could also be time-restricted, in theory restricting calling to certain days or hours. An event as a whole could gradually "fade out" from a person's handheld or computer, with an icon literally diminishing in prominence as event info goes unused.
The exact arena in which Apple might use the site concept is unknown, but the patent filing does suggest applicability to Macs, as well as iPhones, iPods and RIM's BlackBerry smartphones. It might thus be associated with Mac OS X Server, expanding on its backend support. The filing is credited to Michael M. Lee of San Jose, and was originally applied for in February 27th of last year.