Apple wants your iPhone to help you avoid long lines at the grocery store and other businesses

Apple wants your iPhone (and, perhaps in the future, the Apple Watch) to help you avoid long lines at the grocery store and other businesses.

The company has filed for a patent (number 9,113,309) with the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office for "enhancing user services with indoor traffic information."

According to the patent filing, a mobile device such as an iPhone can collect location, time and speed information associated with a building and send this data to a server. 

The server can collect location, time and speed information from multiple mobile devices. It can determine average wait times (e.g., indoor traffic information) associated with areas of interest at a business or indoor location.  (FIG. 2 is a block diagram of a system for generating indoor traffic information based on location data received from mobile devices.) 

The server can deliver the average wait times to mobile devices (including, perhaps, an Apple Watch). The mobile devices can use the indoor traffic information to adjust reminders, calendar events, suggest the best times to visit a business or suggest which of several businesses to visit.

In the patent filing Apple notes that mobile devices provide calendars and alerts to help you keep track of meetings, appointments, and errands that the user must attend. Often, the meetings, appointments, errands, etc. involve a business that provides goods or services. For example, you may shop at a grocery store. You may use an airline or bus service that operates out of an airport or a bus station. 

The amount of time that you spend running an errand can depend on the amount of traffic (e.g., other customers) encountered at a business or building associated with the business. Apple says that you can avoid wasting time when visiting a business if the user can avoid high traffic periods of the day at the business — and the company wants to help you do just that.