Now here’s a patent Apple might actually use.
Granted by the US Patent and Trademark Office on Tuesday (via Apple Insider), Apple’s patent allows for “interactive application sharing,” which would let two or more iPhone or iPad users to share and interact with the same data from an application in real-time.
The patent also includes the ability to let multiple devices collaborate on a single app during a FaceTime call.
In other words, this would let you beam what’s on your iPhone screen to another person’s device — like showing someone what’s on your Calendar app — or, you and friends can collaborate on a single app in real-time.
In its patent, Apple says the iPhone and iPad can share data between each other, but even Apple’s current solutions like Continuity and Handoff, which let you start an activity on one device and let you pick it up on another, still has a few instances of disconnect. For example, Apple points out that people might email a sample draft to their coworkers instead of sharing it through a single app, which could lead to duplication errors.
In this new system, Apple’s apps can be shared and worked on in real-time — plenty of desktop platforms allow this, but Apple would effectively be bringing this idea to mobile.
Here’s how it would work: The first person starts a session with at least one other device, which then accepts an invitation to create a connection between the devices.
The first person is allowed to “host” the session, sending updates to the second screen wirelessly. In an example from the patent, a mother reads “Winnie the Pooh” to her child via FaceTime, turning the pages on her child’s device as she narrates the story.
In another incarnation, iOS users can send data back and forth to each other, which would let you and others collaborate on things like calendars. It looks like you can also have an ongoing video feed, too, but that’s probably limited to when you’re communicating over a FaceTime call.
Apple would also let you choose when you’re actually sharing data. So, you can limit data sharing to FaceTime calls if you’d like, thus piggybacking on the videoconferencing feed as the main line of communication.
The other key feature in this system is security: collaborators can designate privacy settings to their data, marking it as private or public, but it can also be “partially shared.” Apple provides an example in its patent, in which the first person shares available time slots with the second person, but the second person can’t see any specifics about the first person’s events. That could be helpful for any kind of scheduling, whether it’s for doctor appointments or job interviews.
Google, among other companies, already offers similar real-time collaboration tools in its suite of internet-based apps, but iPhone and iPad owners would certainly benefit with this new kind of sharing platform. It would also fit with Apple’s push into the enterprise, since it would let iPad users share their applications — including those IBM-built apps for retail, airlines, healthcare, and more — in an efficient and secure manner. You can check out the full patent here.