Text messaging has been around since the early 1990s, and it’s still one of the most convenient ways to get in touch with someone. But the biggest problem is that it’s really easy to take a text message out of context.
And, if your phone is on silent mode, it’s really easy to miss important time-sensitive messages when you need to read them.
Apple wants to take care of that problem by making text messages more contextual, as it explains in a recently granted patent.
The document describes a text-messaging system that would let you schedule text messages based on a variety of factors, such as the time, weather, and location. It sounds like the messaging app would communicate with other apps on your phone — such as the weather app and your calendar — to send text messages at certain times.
According to the patent, you would be able to set the specific conditions under which a text message is sent. So, for example, if it’s raining outside but you want to meet your friend at the park, you could tell your phone to text that friend once it stops raining.
Apple also cites specific examples such as sending a text message to a recipient when he or she arrives at the grocery store to make sure the message is seen at the right time, or sending a message that appears on the recipient’s phone when he or she wakes up.
The idea of scheduling text messages based on time and location isn’t necessarily new — there are already apps that offer similar functionality. Apple’s system seems more advanced though, based on the patent’s description of the technology.
You can even send a message that references a photo stored on the recipient’s device. Apple’s language in the patent is a little unclear, but it sounds like you’d be able to send a message that essentially tells the recipient’s phone to open a specific photo that shows you and the person you’re sending the message to.
So, for example, you might be able to say something like, “Show Amy the photo of us on vacation in Bermuda from last summer,” and it might be able to send a request to Amy to pull up that photo on her phone.
Here’s exactly what the patent says:
As another example, the sender can provide a picture that is to be displayed, or reference pictures stored on receiving device 120 (e.g. by specifying pictures including the sender and the receiver). Sending such a complex reference does require the receiving device to know how to resolve the reference.
There’s no indication that Apple will actually implement this feature into the iPhone. Apple patents dozens of different products and technologies all the time, and plenty of them never make it to market. Still, it’s interesting to see how the company is experimenting with the text message.