Wouldn’t it be great if you could set your phone to “away” instant messenger style? To not just set your phone to vibrate but to actually let callers know that you are unavailable.
A new U.S. patent recently granted to Apple might do just that.
According to a recent AppleInsider report, future iPhones may come with the ability to automatically broadcast your operating status to contacts. Callers would then be able to access this information to determine if you are available to take their call before they ever bother dialing.
Apple patents can give some idea of future product features, but details remain sketchy. Right now it’s looking like this system will work by having your iPhone send automatic status updates to a central server. Information such as if your phone’s ringer is on, if it is in airplane mode, and details about battery life, location, and cell signal strength might be included. Callers could then see this information through an app and determine if it’s a good time to call.
This could be useful if you are traveling with poor signal strength or even in a different time zone. It could also be handy for those who have a lot of business meetings to attend.
On the flip side, this system is potentially convenient for those who make frequent business calls and need to know if it’s a good time to contact clients and partners.
Users would purportedly be able to limit the information shared through the apps settings. That’s a comforting feature as not everyone wants to broadcast their location or other information. Still, whether you can limit information shared or not, there will be privacy concerns from some users. Such a system might be better as an optional download rather than coming pre-installed.
It’s unlikely Apple will be adding this new capability to their iPhones in the very near future. There are potential risks and benefits but the system could be useful if implemented effectively and with proper consideration for users.
iPhone Photo via Shutterstock
I would just set mine to “unavailable” by default. I’m just not a huge fan of phone calls unless they’re scheduled, especially for business.