Apple considers iOS devices with orientation-based alert adjustment

At some point, iOS and watchOS devices’ alarm settings may be determined by how the devices are oriented ad the environment their users are in at the time. Apple has been granted a patent (number 9,691,260) for an “electronic device with orientation-based alert adjustment.”

In the patent filing, Apple notes that many of the ever-increasing number of electronic devices include the ability to attract your attention through the use of an alert. For example, iPhones and Apple Watches contain alert devices such as vibrating motors, speakers, and/or lights. 

Because of their portable nature, many of these portable electronic devices are made as small as possible by miniaturizing the components therein. As part of this miniaturization effort, the alert devices in the electronic devices are often made as small as possible in order to conserve space. However, these miniaturized alert devices can be problematic for several reasons, according to Apple. 

First, these miniaturized alert devices may be inadequate to attract your attention in a variety of different situations. For example, if the user of a cell phone is in an environment where there’s a great deal of ambient noise, such as a concert or live sporting event, then the user may be unable to see a visual alert from a miniaturized light on the phone, hear an auditory alert from a miniaturized speaker in the phone and/or unable to detect vibration coming from the phone's miniaturized vibration motor. 

Additionally, because of electronic devices often contain slight variations in the way they were manufactured, the actual response of the alert device within the electronic device may vary between electronic devices. In other words, slight variations in the actual manufacturing of an electronic device may cause the electronic device to react differently to the same force driving the alert device. For example, the vibration frequency may vary between phones of the same make and model because of manufacturing tolerance, and therefore, the same amount of vibration from a vibrating motor may unintentionally produce different levels of user alerts. Apple says that methods and systems that adaptively adjust the alert devices within electronic devices to overcome one or more of these problems are desirable. 

Of course, 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 day. However, you never can tell which ones will materialize in a real product.