A slew of new Apple patent applications have been published, revealing the company’s research into a number of iPod and iPhone enhancements. Of the iPhone- and iPod touch-specific patents, two deal with the usability of touchscreen-based devices. One patent outlines haptic display technology that would let users “feel” on-screen graphics as they move their fingers across the screen, while another would identify fingerprints, allowing the system to execute different commands based on the individual finger that is touching the screen and the duration of the contact.
A separate group of patents covers automated, intelligent settings and tasks. One covers “event-based modes,” in which the iPhone automatically changes certain settings based on its location, calendar events, news updates, usage, and environment. A second deals with automated communications, which would allow the iPhone to perform certain actions—such as sending a happy birthday SMS or making a phone call—based on calendar events, location, caller ID, and more.
The third patent in this grouping covers intelligent handling of communications, by which the iPhone would be able to “select appropriate communication modes for incoming communications requests based on a user’s preferences and availability, determine the communication modes of a user based on the current activity and allow the user to provide customized information to his contacts.”
Yet another Apple patent filing suggests the company is working on a way to integrate RFID technology into the iPhone and iPod touch. The application describes a method for embedding an RFID antenna into the touchscreen itself, allowing the device to be used as a reader. The company is also looking into a karaoke addition to the iPhone and iPod touch’s iPod application, which would not only provide on-screen video and lyrics, but also offer real-time feedback to the user in an attempt to improve his/her singing.