An Apple patent application published today describes what Patently Apple suggests may be a new all-in-one Travel app – but more likely describes ways to make Apple Maps smarter …

Here’s the site’s take:

There was a time when Apple was working hard on developing a travel app for iPhones and we covered three of their patent applications that were published by the US Patent & Trademark Office in 2010 (one and two) and 2012. In 2013Apple was granted their first patent for a travel app and a second granted patent in 2015 that we didn’t cover […]

It would appear that Apple is still working on a new travel app, even if it’s being done glacially.

The patent text is pretty vague, and written in the usual patenteze, so it’s certainly possible that Apple is working on a whole new stock app.

Methods, systems, and apparatus, including computer programs encoded on a computer storage medium, for retrieving local information on a user device include detecting itinerary information stored by a first application on a user device, and identifying a travel destination based on the detected itinerary information. The travel destination is communicated to a second application executable on a user device, and the travel destination is stored in association with the second application. The second application is adapted to retrieve local information based on an identified geographic location, and local information for the travel destination is provided through the second application in response to a user interaction with the second application and based on a triggering threshold associated with the itinerary information.

But our take is that the company is describing features that could be added to Apple Maps.

This specification relates to providing dynamic city search suggestions based on travel itineraries, including suggesting locations to search in one application based on travel plans identified in a different application.

Apple of course already uses this general approach, suggesting when to leave for an appointment found in Calendar based on traffic and transit information pulled into Maps. It also pulls in things like local weather and opening times for restaurants.

The patent application goes on, though, to describe sharing travel data between devices owned by different people.

For example, based on an itinerary stored in a travel application on a user device, destination information can be provided to a weather application and a clock application on the same user device, in addition to being provided to a weather application and a clock application on a friend’s user device.

Potentially, then, Apple Maps could recognize from a calendar entry that you are travelling with a partner, friend or business colleague, and ensure that everything is synched between you.

One illustration references accessing both a friends database and a destination database. Another possible application here would be to alert you when friends are travelling to your city, subject to them giving Apple Maps permission to share the data.

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Ben Lovejoy

Ben Lovejoy is a British technology writer and EU Editor for 9to5Mac. He’s known for his op-eds and diary pieces, exploring his experience of Apple products over time, for a more rounded review. He also writes fiction, with two technothriller novels, a couple of SF shorts and a rom-com!

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