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Apple Patents Social Workflows

What’s a social workflow you ask? Heck if I know! These confounded devices transmit everything these days. But I will tell ya, the future is looking bleak if Apple gets in bed with Facebook.

Apple wants the iPhone to be the only device you always have with you. While it’s a given that we are carry our cellphones with us anyway, Apple wants to replace everything that’s normally shoved into your petite pockets. First we saw the heart rate monitor. Then we saw their Transaction app patent. Now they’re devising automatic, social workflows for the iPhone (ala Automator for OS X).

A social workflow is kind of like this. Say I have to add my friend Todd to my contacts. So I type in his name, his home address, his four phone numbers, and then I snap his ugly mug so I know who the hell he is ten years down the road when I finally get that call back. But man, no matter what cell phone you use, the process is annoying. Social workflows will solve this for everyone.

Similar to “bump contact” applications, Apple wants to create unique ways in which we share data. If you’re a CEO, you’ll want to send your contact info to your clients as quickly and efficiently as possible. A teacher might use their iPhone to collect homework from student’s MacBooks in the classroom automatically. And a police officer might use his iPhone to share suspect data with other officers as they arrive on the scene of a crime instantaneously. Social workflows allows an “initiator device” (the device sending info) to create a script of information that automatically applies settings or performs an action on a “target device” (the device receiving info).

Facebook Integration - Patently Apple

Facebook Integration - Patently Apple

Of the examples specifically mentioned, something Apple exclusively presents is Facebook integration. While I feel that Facebook is the new evil, the fact is that everyone and their mother is using it for the time being, and Facebook integration simply ties the knot for most of our social needs. In a scenario, you can send a friend request to that cute barista you meet at Starbucks. Apple goes as far to detail how it would display an example login page via XML if the Internet wasn’t even available. That’s a scary thought, and I hope that if Apple pursues this route, they’ll extend this sort of social integration with other sites like Delicious,, Twitter, etc.

Social workflows will be a great feature that’ll work between MacBooks, iPhones, and other devices in Apple’s lineup of magical goods. Sharing data can be convoluted, and Apple sees an opportunity to develop a protocol for automatically managing menial tasks we otherwise waste time on every day. It’ll be interesting to see if these features arrive with the next iPhone among the rumors of Facebook integration, and we won’t be waiting too much longer to find out.

Read the rest of Patently Apple’s analysis for more information.

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