New day, new Apple patent: Location Based Social Networking and iPhone Video Calling. Several techniques that facilitate device-to-device location awareness during a telephone call are described in Apple’s patent. One embodiment of the invention is a method for communications between a first mobile device and a second mobile device, described as follows.
During an ongoing telephone call (communication session) between the first and second devices, an over the air message (e.g., a short message service, SMS, or text message) is sent from the first device. This may be in response to a user activating a designated virtual or physical button of the first device, or giving a verbal command, to send a location request message. The message requests the current location of the second device. It may also be viewed as requesting permission to reveal the current location to the user of the first device. An RF-based locating methodology that determines location information of the second device is then performed. This determined location information is then sent to the first device and can be automatically displayed to its user. Thus, this technique enables a person who is on a call with another person and who would like to meet the other person, to immediately find out the location of the other person.
To ensure privacy, the user of the second device may be prompted to give permission to release her location information (e.g., by actuating a virtual or physical button on the second device), during the ongoing telephone call. Alternatively, a stored profile of the user of the second device may be checked, for automatically obtaining permission to release location information to the requesting device.
The above-described process for location awareness may occur directly between the two mobile devices. For instance, the initial request for location information from the first device may be received by the second device as an SMS or text message sent from the first device. The second device can then send its location information back to the first device, via another SMS or text message. In that case, there is no requirement for modifying any cellular telephony network infrastructure to deploy such a service, so long as each of the devices has the needed device-to-device location awareness application running (that can accept a location request text message and reply by sending a location information and permission text message.
Apple’s patent points to using iPhone video conferencing with this new location feature as follows: “Note that the reference to “voice call” here is not limited to a conventional, sound-only conversation. It may also include video of the two users, synchronized with their audio. The call may be a cellular network telephone call that has been initiated by either user.