Apple has wanted to put a location aware app on your phone for a while now. Specifically, Apple envisions a future where your phone integrates into various retail stores and commercial establishments (such as libraries) through temporary, location based applications. A source close with MacStories has informed us that we could begin seeing some of this technology arriving as early as next week in Apple's own retail stores.
I'll be the first to admit that any time Steve Jobs announces a new MacBook or any other shiny-thing-a-ma-jig, I'll swiftly reserve a spot at a crowded Apple Store so that I'm guaranteed to get hands on and well-informed with the latest product. Though I enjoy the casual exchanges at the Apple Store, my reservations are often met with an additional five minutes of waiting as Jerome or Todd finish working with previous customers. But imagine if a shiny new application on your iPhone could promptly alert Apple Store employees of your presence, thus checking you in quicker to play with Apple's latest gadgets.
We don't know too many of the specifics, such as how Apple Store employees will greet you or how heavily integrated this location based app will be in the checkout process (see update 2 below), but we imagine the app will be tied to your Apple ID. Our source didn't report on whether the application would integrate with the shopper's experience for the collection of receipts, to track previous issues (such as with Apple Care), or if it could be used to track students for educational discounts. What we do know is that Apple plans to use this new location based app to track your proximity to an Apple Store, verify your registration, check-you-in, and assist the Apple Store employees in providing you with a personal shopping experience.
Update: The location based application has the capability to track employees room by room. Store devices with the app will be able to keep track of employees, while managers with a separate, specific "command-central" application can tag the rooms for either establishing the room's geographical location and/or tracking employees. Because Apple Stores can be loud and congested with large crowds of customers, this enables Apple Store employees to keep track of their situation and communicate better.
Update 2: The iPad will become more prominent amongst Apple Store employees in the coming months. Geniuses in particular will be utilizing the device to quickly diagnose problems. Customers waiting with reservations may be notified with a push notification and a photo of the Apple Store employee that has been delegated to assist him/her upon check-in using their location based app.
That's the general gist of the knowledge bestowed upon us, and though I was initially skeptical of such shenanigans when I reported on the patent back in May, today I'd feel rather comfortable being treated like royalty. The end goal is to allow Apple employees to track who is in their store, and who needs priority care. We'll be keeping an eye on the upcoming week to see if this retail application launches in time for the holiday season.