back to article Apple wants to patent iBeacon stalking

The fruit of Apple's 2013 acquisition of indoor mapper WiFiSlam seems to have fallen from the tree and landed at the patent office, with Cupertino filing for a find-my-friends feature. Back when the acquisition happened it was speculated that Apple wanted to get into the follow-my-footsteps business that mobe companies have …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Nothing but upside

    Not being bought into the Apple ecosystem, I can only see upside to this patent; since Apple don't license their patents I'll never encounter this intrusive stalking crap on any device I own.

    If I weren't so happy about that, I might observe that this seems to be another example of a "something that's been done many times before, but on a ..." patent application. I can see that wifi mapping might be novel enough to patent (and doubtless is), but to then patent every GPS-based navigation or tracking application, "but using wifi mapping", really is nonsense.

  2. frank ly

    "... so you find that friend, partner, ..."

    If you're as old-fashioned as I am, you'd phone them and ask, "Where are you?".

    1. Kevin Johnston

      Re: "... so you find that friend, partner, ..."

      But how would you manage to do that? It would require you both to have a phone in your pocket and have some signal and....oh, yeah....ignore me, I'm leaving

    2. Phuq Witt
      Headmaster

      Re: "... so you find that friend, partner, ..."

      "...If you're as old-fashioned as I am..."

      You new-fangled devil!

      I'm old enough to remember a time back before we all carried phones with us all the time. We had to use a combination of our voices, ears and memory to arrange in advance that we'd meet someone at a scheduled place, at a scheduled time.

      It's a wonder the human race managed to survive at all, up until Apple and Google came along to provide us with all the 'features' evolution forgot to add.

  3. MacroRodent Silver badge

    Nokia had it first...

    I recall looking at a bluetooth app much like that in a Nokia feature phone a decade ago. Nobody used it, probably because they thought it too creepy, and it was dropped. To bad I don't remember what it was called.

    1. Jos V

      Re: Nokia had it first...

      Yeah, Nokia Sensor (2005-ish). Also google had something like this, Dodgeball.

  4. Doctor_Wibble
    Boffin

    Where are you going?

    I thought the 'sign of being a couple' was the asking of the question "where are you going?" so it stands to reason that the use of this app is a sign of imminent divorce - the level of mistrust that Alice* is showing by using this app would certainly seem to indicate this. It's one thing to ask, but something else entirely to check the answer.

    * A process of logical deduction that it must be Alice that is using the app as her name is not shown in the picture, which clearly shows Bob as being a contact, so it's definitely not his phone we're looking at.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Bluetooth LE

    What is the range of LE in a place with lots of people all using BtLE equipped phones? My limited experience suggests that if it's working in those circumstances you simply need to look around you.

    Or is Apple thinking of some peer to peer mesh? In which case (a) battery draining and (b) potentially useful to criminals. Though thinking about it, the application would be that anyway as the Bt will need to be discoverable.

    Perhaps I'm wrong...they would have thought of these things, wouldn't they? Large companies never file junk patent applications, do they?

    1. Toastan Buttar

      Re: Bluetooth LE

      Bluetooth LE (Low Energy) operates at the same /power/ as normal Bluetooth, but saves /energy/ by operating in infrequent bursts and going dead in between times. Range is identical AFAIK.

  6. Alan Denman

    iFriends only !

    Another 'of limited use' wall garden offering that will thankfully pass me by .

    No iBeacon Spam for me too.

  7. Tikimon
    Devil

    Resistance may be futile, but I'm resisting anyway

    Never ever ever will I submit to being tracked like that. If I can't root my phone and bypass it, I'll go back to a feature phone for calls and pull the battery of my smartassphone when not doing data lookups. Whatever it takes.

    I'm glad a backlash is growing against the "track and spy everywhere" attitude tech companies assume is the future and push on us against our will. I only hope the tools to fight back catch up with the spying, we're a little behind at the moment.

    Does anyone remember when companies made good products for us to buy, to enrich our lives in some way? Now they make things designed to violate our privacy for their benefit. Instead of Customers to be courted, we're considered Things to be captured and "monetized".

  8. anttix

    This does seem like a 'do it on a computer' patent, i.e. Invalid. I'm sure Apple would never attempt to assert it though, and force any potential competitors to waste collossal sums in court to establish this.

  9. Ian Michael Gumby

    Meh.

    Shouldn't be patentable.

    Nothing new and common sense if you want to design such a thing.

    Prior art should exist if one digs deep enough.

  10. elaar

    Can't they just agree to meet at a certain time (drooling) in the apple store?

  11. oneeye

    What could go wrong?

    Seems the author is the only one with a clue. Even though Apple has an on / off switch,or pick who can know,they conveniently leave themselves out. They will collect this information whether you use it or not,and of course,after "removing any identifying information" then aggregate and sell this to all maner of retailers and advertisers. Not to mention all the other apps that will want access to the API. THERE IS a very good reason that security apps always recommend turning off location. Yes,Apple is Evil too ! But telling fanboys is like pissing into the wind.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Meet me for ... ?

    Haven't "toothing" users and doggers been doing this for years?

    Not that I would know anything at all about such practices, of course, one has simply heard of such things, brrrrrmmph!

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