Apple details Waze-like crowd-sourced route ratings and incident reporting for real-time traffic alerts in Maps

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According to a new Apple patent application published today by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (via AppleInsider), Apple is looking into new mapping features that would integrate real-time, crowd-sourced traffic and navigation data through ratings and user reporting.

At first glance the features appear to be similar to those included in the community-based mapping app ‘Waze’, which is one of the reasons that Google just acquired the company last month. The patent application, titled “User-Specified Route Rating and Alerts,” describes a system for users to “provide ratings for routes, streets and/or locations.” In other words, users can rate a suggested route when getting directions in order to provide crowd-sourced feedback to Apple and in return Apple will provide the most efficient and accurate routes to other users based on the ratings:

Particular implementations provide at least the following advantages: Route determination is improved by accounting for real-world considerations and concerns of travelers. Real-time user-generated alerts allow for faster and more accurate notification of events within proximity of a user that might hinder the user’s progress as the user travels… In some implementations, rating database 110 can store information related to users’ ratings of routes and/or locations. For example, a user of mobile device 102 can interact with navigation engine 104 to provide ratings for routes and/or locations. The ratings information provided by the user can be transmitted to navigation service 106 through network 114. Navigation service 106 can store the ratings information in rating database 110 and route engine can determine routes based on the ratings information stored in rating database 110.

Apple also walks through a process of gathering user-generated alerts for routes including accident reports, road closures, etc. Apple plans on taking all the alert and route rating data and providing it to other users in real-time to improve route directions. In other words, if your device is detected to be in the same location as a user-generated alert, Apple will be able to push that alert to your device or suggest an alternate route based on the incident that’s been reported:

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Apple patent application describes fingerprint sensor tech rumored for iPhone 5S

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There have been no shortage of fingerprint sensor rumors surfacing since Apple acquired Authentec last year. According to several reports from analysts, including the often reliable Ming-Chi Kuo and the not as reliable Topeka Capital analyst Brian White, Apple’s next-generation iPhone is likely to include a fingerprint sensor. We’ve discussed how it could certainly make a stand out hardware feature for Apple’s expected “S” upgrade, and today the US Patent and Trademark Office published patent applications that show Apple could be experimenting with exactly that (via PatentlyApple).

According to one aspect of the present disclosure, a biometric sensor assembly, such as a fingerprint sensor, comprises a substrate to which is mounted a die containing sensor circuitry and at least one conductive bezel. As used in the description and claims that follow, “bezel” means a unitary, substantially uniformly composed structure, most typically metal or conductive plastic. The die and the bezel are encased in a unitary encapsulation structure to protect those elements from mechanical, electrical, and environmental damage, yet with a portion of a surface of the die and the bezel exposed or at most thinly covered by the encapsulation or other coating material structure

Validity-Fingerprint-sensorThe patent describes a process of embedding a fingerprint sensor into the bezel of a device, which sounds a lot like the finger print sensors Validity was showing off embedded in Android devices at CES this year (pictured right). Apple notes in the patent application that the sensor would be “approximately the width of an average user’s fingertip, but only several pixels tall, typically between 1 and 8 pixels, and possibly as many as 16 pixels tall” when viewed from above.

Apple doesn’t get too into what functions for users the fingerprint sensor would provide, but does note that “the sensor captures a number of thin strips of the fingerprint as the finger is swiped, and the complete fingerprint is assembled in software for use in authentication.” Read more

More Apple patents detail completely flexible devices that change as they bend

iPhone-Flexible display

These are certainly not the first flexible display related patent applications that we’ve seen from Apple. A few different Apple patent applications have received attention in recent months, including one for a slap wrist-style bracelet with a flexible display, and others for curved and flexible displays in various iOS device-like form factors. Today we’ve come across a couple of recently published Apple patent applications filed as early as September of last year that further show Apple’s work with flexible displays (via UnwiredView).

The first patent application, titled “Flexible Electronic Devices” is pretty straight forward: Apple is interested in methods of providing not only flexible displays but also flexible components like batteries, circuit boards, and the housing of the device itself. Apple describes a device that could respond accordingly depending on how a user was manipulating the flexible display. The patent applications provides examples such as the device shutting off and entering standby mode when folded, or a user answering a call or changing volume: Read more

Apple patents detail quick app access on lockscreen, touch sensitive home button & unlikely tablet/notebook hybrid

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We all know Apple, like most big tech companies, files a lot of patent applications for inventions that will likely never see the light of day. Today we get a look at a couple of its latest patent applications via documents published by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office and detailed by PatentlyApple.

On the more believable side, we get one that includes a new animated lock screen that would provide quick access to frequently used apps via a new animated feature accessible through a home button that could also recognize touch and pressure input (pictured above). Redesigning the lockscreen with new features has been a big request from many users, so this one isn’t entirely out of the realm of possibility for future iOS releases: Read more

Apple takes a cue from users, invents packaging that doubles as iPhone/iPad dock

A number of Apple patents and applications have been published today, one of which details an interesting new design for the packaging of iOS devices that would also double as a stand or dock of sorts. The patent application was originally filed in May 2011, but it was published today by the United States Patent and Trademark Office and detailed by PatentlyApple. The image above is pretty self-explanatory, showing iPod nano-like packaging with a removable lid and base that transform into a dock or stand for the device. It appears the dock would act as a permanent solution, with the image above showing room to accommodate a charging cable as well as small parts to hold the device snugly in place.

This is actually something we’ve seen before. Although many iPhone and iPad users have no problem dropping a decent amount of money on a dock, there are no shortage of users who have come up with innovative ways to turn the current iPhone and iPad packaging into a dock and or stand for free. Below is a video, courtesy of GottaBeMobile, showing an iPad mini box being transformed into a free docking station with very little effort: Read more

Facebook iPad app to be announced at upcoming Apple event?

Mashable is reporting that Facebook’s long-awaited iPad app will be announced at Apple’s upcoming event, which will most likely occur on October 4th. In addition to the iPad app, Facebook will reportedly be launching a revamped iPhone app and new HTML 5 version of the mobile site.

You may remember that the iPad app was leaked earlier this year, but was subsequently removed from within the iPhone app. According to a post from former Facebook engineer Jeff Verkoeyen the app is ready, and Facebook is waiting to release it. An event alongside Apple seems somewhat logical, though the companies don’t have the greatest history with each other.

Perhaps most importantly, Apple is said to be integrating Facebook into its iOS 5 the way Twitter is now integrated. Facebook was integrated into prototype versions of iOS 4 but a falling out between Zuckerberg and Apple got them kicked off (screenshot below).

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Though Facebook wants to move to HTML 5 as their main platform, they will also be releasing a revamped iPhone app with speed improvements according to the report. If true, October 4th is sure to be a big day with the unveiling of the next iPhone, iOS 5, and now the Facebook iPad app.

A few more screenshots after the break:

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