Apple has a new idea for the iPhone that could make it so much easier to communicate while you're in transit

Google Maps has expanded its public transit directionsJustin Sullivan/GettyGoogle Maps has expanded its public transit directions

We’ve all been in this situation at least once — you’ve just arrived at a party and you forgot to pick up wine on the way. You tried texting your friend or significant other to stop at the store on their way over, but you have no idea if he or she even got the message.

Apple is at least researching a way to prevent scenarios like these, according to a newly published patent application.

The patent application, called “Custom Location Notification,” describes a system in which one iPhone user would be able to share his or her location with another similar to the way Find My Friends currently works.

What makes this different, however, is that this feature sends custom alerts based on where you are. So, for instance, if I choose to share my location with a friend named Bob, Bob will get an alert when I’m near a grocery store or liquor store. If Bob wants me to pick something up on my way to his party, he’ll know when I’m within range of a particular store to do so.

And, if Bob wants me to go to a different store that’s not in my current route, he can send me directions to that particular place, according to the patent application.

Based Apple’s phrasing in the document, it seems like the killer feature here that separates it from apps that already exist is that you can create custom notifications in the form of a text message or an email.

Here’s what Apple writes in the patent application:

Custom notifications inform users of impending arrivals of a travelling party or other activities using communication technologies typically included in modern mobile devices. The user does not have to use a generic set of notifications determined by an application developer. Rather, the mobile device can facilitate the user’s creation of custom notifications that are tailored to the user’s needs. The communication of notifications between devices can be peer-to-peer using email, text messaging or cellular communications (e.g., automated messages), which protects the privacy of the user and eliminates the need for the user to subscribe to a centralised location-based service (e.g., tracking service).

Of course, there’s no telling whether or not this feature will actually come to the iPhone anytime soon. Regardless, it’s interesting to learn about the types of features Apple is brainstorming for iOS. Earlier this month, for example, Apple was granted a patent for a feature that lets you schedule text messages based on factors such as location, time, and even the weather.

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