Apple is granted patents for an automotive ‘head unit’ and devices that would capture info on Mac, iOS device thieves

Rumors of an “Apple Car” continue unabated. Whether or not we see a full-fledged Apple-branded vehicle, the company is working on automotive technology. The company has been granted a patent (number 20160148897) for a “head unit” with auser-programmable button (physical or virtual) that would interact with an iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch.

A head unit in an vehicle can be programmed to use with the audio system. It could be used to bookmark a particular radio station. Modern head units are capable of utilizing the functionality of devices such as iPhones and iPads.

Apple says there’s a need to provide a “fast, efficient, and intuitive way for users to use affordances of a head unit to bookmark functionality on a connected phone or tablet.” The company’s plans call for a head unit to be able to request context information from an iOS device and store the context info in a physical or virtual button on the head unit.

Apple has also been granted a patent (number 20160248769) for “biometric capture for unauthorized user identification” that would allow Apple devices to collect fingerprints and photos of thieves. If your Mac or iOS device gets stolen, you can implement a “trigger condition,” which would collect and store biometric information of the “unauthorized user.”

Such biometric info could include one or more fingerprints, one or more images of a current user of the computing device, a video of the current user, audio of the environment of the computing device, forensic interface use information, and so on. The Apple device could then provide the stored biometric information for identification of one or more unauthorized users.

Finally, a newly granted Apple patent (number 20160248051) for “electronic devices with sapphire-coated substrates" shows that the company is still interested in using sapphire in future products. 

Sapphire is the second hardest material in the world after diamond. The fact that it’s very hard to scratch means that it’s much less likely to break than competitors like Gorilla Glass or Dragontrail. In past months Apple was working with GT Advanced Technologies on sapphire screens, but GT went bankrupt.

Keep in mind that Apple files for — and is granted — lots of patents by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. Many are for inventions that never see the light of da