updated 03:05 pm EDT, Tue April 30, 2013
Service would automatically select best contact method
Apple has won a pair of new patents from the US Patent and Trademark Office, says AppleInsider. One, Method and system for facilitating contacting people using electronic devices, describes a software system in which a person can be automatically informed of the best way to contact someone, and on the receiving side, pick what the best contact method for a given time is. In an example provided by Apple, the contacting party might want to talk to someone who's currently driving, but email or a text message might be more appropriate.
The best contact method could selected based on "monitoring devices" on the contactee's end, such as computers, GPS receivers, microphones, webcams, and so on. For privacy's sake, the reason for selecting a particular contact method might not be disclosed to the person initiating the communication. A contactee could set rules and parameters for contact based on factors like location, likely activity, and who's trying to call -- a spouse could be prioritized over bosses and work colleagues at a bar, for instance, while the reverse might be true at an office.
The second patent covers controller peripherals for touchscreen devices, such as joysticks or buttonpads. While such controllers are already being produced for the sake of games, Apple's patent suggests that they could be applied to control the core iOS interface, providing access to the disabled with feedback like audio or Braille. At present, the main accessibility features in iOS are things like VoiceOver and Siri.