Apple files for patent for ‘social reminders’ on its various devices

Apple has filed for a patent (number 2018007538) for “social reminders” on iOS, watchOS and, perhaps, macOS devices. In the patent filing, Apple nots that electronic devices can display reminder alerts that remind users to take certain actions at certain times. 

For example, a meeting reminder reminds a user to attend a scheduled meeting. A conventional reminder is created by specifying a date and/or time with a reminder message. The reminder may then be displayed at the specified date and/or time. However, Apple says that conventional reminders aren’t as helpful when it’s impractical for the user to specify a date and/or time ahead of time. 

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According to the patent filing, social reminders can be set to trigger based on social interactions of users. For example, a user may request to be reminded to discuss a certain discussion topic with a particular phonebook contact, when the user next encounters the contact.

In some embodiments, a method for managing social reminders at an electronic device (think iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, or Mac) includes: receiving input representing user instruction to provide a reminder in the future, the instruction identifying an entity; after receiving the input, detecting an external electronic device, the external electronic device associated with the entity; in response to detecting the external electronic device, determining whether the external electronic device is within a threshold proximity; and in accordance with a determination that the external electronic device is within the threshold proximity, providing the reminder. 

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.