The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has today published a new patent filing from Apple titled “Methods to determine availability of user based on mobile phone status“, that details a new iPhone status sharing system in which a caller can check another user’s iPhone’s status before placing a call, AppleInsider is reporting.
The source details that the filing outlines a system similar to “Available/Away/Offline” status displaying system used by many instant messaging programs, in order to make it easier for a caller to decide whether or not a callee is available to talk. Even Apple’s own iMessage uses this status sharing system, allowing users to see at a glance if a contact is free to chat or if they are busy through user-defined availability settings.
“In particular, for most callees, the only available actions are to accept the call or decline it by either not answering or allowing an answering machine or voice mail system to respond. The caller in such cases has no control over whether or not the call will be accepted”, says Apple.
The filing notes that the process takes place largely in the background, with user interaction kept to a minimum. In other words, device owners simply set preferences and sharing policies on their iPhone, which then reports to the server at preset intervals. On the caller’s side, the devices retrieve and display a contact’s operating status data automatically.
Apple notes that advanced caller ID systems offer a certain level of interactivity in call screening, but are also insufficient, both for callers and those who may receive calls at an inopportune time.