Apple wants your iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch to be able to get back to Wi-Fi quickly

Apple wants your iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch to be able to get back to Wi-Fi quickly if they have cellular/Wi-Fi connectivity. The company has filed for a patent (number 20180332506) for “fast return to Wi-Fi.”

In the patent filing, Apple says that, while the ever increasing capabilities of wirelessly-enabled devices bring about new opportunities, these advancements also introduce certain challenges, such as coexistence and peak power problems. Both the coexistence problem and the peak power problem steam from a wirelessly-enabled device attempting to transmit or receive voice and/or data over different interfaces--e.g., cellular and Wi-Fi--at the same time. 

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Specifically, coexistence generally occurs when a wirelessly-enabled device attempts to concurrently transmit or receive different signals from different antennas (e.g., cellular and Wi-Fi antennas) that are in close proximity to each other. This generally results in interference of one, or both, of the signals. Conversely, the peak power problem many result in a scenario where a wirelessly-enabled device can’t generate enough power to reach the level of output power  needed to properly transmit two different signals (e.g., voice and data signals) at the same time. 

It also results in distortion of the signals, and/or physical damage to the integrated circuits within the wirelessly-enabled device. Apple wants to change this.

Here’s the company’s summary of the invention: “Embodiments for performing a fast return to Wi-Fi following completion of a cellular voice call are provided. These embodiments include detecting that a device has switched from communicating over a Wi-Fi interface to communicating over a cellular interface; determining the earliest time that the device can switch back to Wi-Fi; and instituting the switch. 

“In some embodiments, the process of performing a fast return to Wi-Fi is carried out by devices having small form factors, such as smartwatches and other wearables, which may be susceptible to coexistence and peak power problems. The fast return to Wi-Fi embodiments disclosed herein allow a device to perform a voice call over a cellular interface when Wi-Fi calling is not available, and switch over to a Wi-Fi interface immediately upon completion of the voice call in order to conserve battery life, achieve higher data speeds, and avoid high costs associated with cellular data transmissions.”

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.