A patent application filed by Apple in August of 2013, but published Thursday describes a way by which Apple may one day try to provide you with indoor traffic information. That means, possibly, analyzing cell phone location data to let you know where the shortest lines are, which could be particularly useful if you’re shopping during the holidays or looking for the shortest wait at a nearby Starbucks.
The patent is titled “Enhancing User Services With Indoor Traffic Information” and was first spotted by AppleInsider. It describes a way that a mobile device can be used to gather location, time and speed information and send that back to a central server, which can then analyze that data and spit out average wait times, which Apple calls “indoor traffic information.” “The service can deliver the average wait times to mobile devices,” Apple explains in the patent. “The mobile devices can use the indoor traffic information to adjust reminders, calendar events, suggest the best times to visit a business or suggest which of several businesses to visit.”
Apple has been working diligently to revamp its Apple Maps service, which was a bust when it first launched but has improved over time. The company has reportedly been in the process of building indoor maps, and this patent shows just one way it might be able to offer something that Google doesn’t already. It’s just a patent and therefore might not ever been implemented in an Apple product, but it seems plausible this might be something we see actually launch sometime.