Next iPhone OS To Put Contacts On The Home Screen?

According to a recently released patent from the U.S. Patent Office, Apple finally thinks adding contacts to the home screen as icons is a good idea, as they have filed for a patent for doing that on touchscreen cell phones. That’s pretty funny, because a certain developer also thought it was a good idea two years ago when he made SpringDial, an app that does exactly that very thing for jailbroken iPhones. Fortunately, the appearance of this patent is pretty solid evidence that it’s going to happen in the next major update of iPhone OS that Apple releases.

There’s no telling why it took Apple so long to get a patent for on-screen speed dial shortcuts, or more importantly, why three versions of iPhone later they still haven’t implemented it, especially since it seems like such an incredibly obvious feature to have. Our best guess is that it has to do with not having the patent yet, which makes it a little more understandable (though not any less annoying).

What we weren’t expecting from Apple is that this patent goes a little farther than just putting speed-dial buttons on your home screen. The patent defines these custom icons as being able to perform a broad range of things, such as launching any app you specify that is personalized to the contact or display info about the contact. One option it mentions is having the icon for the contact (most likely someone with an iPhone) show up on your home screen based on that person’s proximity to you (and your iPhone). (Example: Person “A” gets within a set range of you, and his/her icon pops up on your home screen.)

From the patent:

The icon can also be used to invoke one or more applications that are personalized to the contact. The icon can be modified to display information related to the contact. In one aspect, an icon associated with an entity can be temporarily displayed on the mobile device based on the proximity of the mobile device to the entity.

Illustrated below:

Adding an icon to the home screen:

It’s an exciting new step to being able to customize your iPhone to fit your lifestyle and workflow, and one that couldn’t get here soon enough.

[via Redmond Pie]

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