San Diego – The United States Patent and Trademark Office has granted Apple a new GPS iPhone patent, however it has drawn much criticism from Congress which may prevent it from being released to the public.
Cupertino, Ca-based Apple’s patent at issue, which covers a new GPS technology, is called “Dynamic Alerts for Calendar Events.” Under its technology, the alert system would scan a user’s event calendar for meetings and locations, and then send the user an alert on the most optimal travel routes. The GPS feature could also alert users to current and historical traffic conditions, such as rush-hour congestion and other times a route has an increased number of vehicles, and then re-route the users to avoid these hazards. The systems would also factor in weather and road conditions such as construction work and public transportation schedules.
In April, Apple admitted to collecting traffic data through crowd-sourcing information. This method was used to track and collect its device users’ location data without permission for the purposes of improving the traffic services of the GPS feature. Apple insisted that the information was collected anonymously and that the data was not sold to outside companies.
Apple’s crowd-sourcing admission created a backlash in the media which prompted lawmakers in Washington to question Apple, as well as Google and Facebook, on their methods of collecting users’ location information. As a result of lawmakers’ scrutiny surrounding these companies, new legislation may be in store which would change the way Apple and others collect private data.
“I believe that consumers have a fundamental right to know what data is being collected about them,” commented Senator Al Frankin (D., Minn.), chairman of the Senate Judiciary subcommittee. “I also believe that they have a right to decide whether they want to share that information, and with whom they want to share it and when.”
Currently, crowd-sourcing is the only method available to compile user location data. Unless another means of collecting this data is implemented, it appears the fate of Apple’s GPS patent will be in doubt.