Apple Makes It’s Social Move
Social applications and games are the current darling of the tech industry. Whether it’s Foursquare, GoWalla, or Latitude; it seems social applications and games are always in the news. Apple, with its commanding lead in the mobile space, has been noticeably absent from this market. According to an article in Patently Apple today, that is all about to change.
The article details a patent for an application called iGroups. The article provides a great, detailed rundown of the service and if you’re interested in the intricate details of the patent you should definitely check it out. iGroups will differ from other social applications in that instead of relying on a “check in” type mnemonic to track who has or is visiting an area, it will concern itself with creating ad hoc groups. Devices running the application that are within range of each other will exchange tokens per preconfigured options. These tokens provide admittance into an ad hoc group in that geographical area. Devices that have exchanged tokens can then communicate with each other within the group. Judging from the patent information, iGroups seems to focus on the privacy concerns recently raised about services such as Foursquare by giving users control over general properties, such as whether or not they want their device to participate in a group, up to how they want to exchange information with other group members. Privacy of this type is an important differentiator from other current services.
With the explosion of social applications on the iPhone, it makes perfect sense that Apple would want to get in on the space while creating a service that is different from those that exist. Check in services are beginning to make some people uncomfortable and are leading to backlash web sites such as Please Rob Me. Imagine a service that is completely configurable, allows for total opt in and opt out, and doesn’t require a user to broadcast their location across a whole network. Sounds desirable doesn’t it? But more than any of these other reasons, people may be more inclined to use an Apple service for one simple fact: it comes preinstalled. iGroups will own real estate out of the box the people at Foursquare or GoWalla could only dream about. In the end, that might be all it takes to make iGroups a success.
What do you think of Apple’s latest move? Is it just more of the locked down and overbearing attitude of a closed Apple? Is it a smart move by a smart industry player to give their users something they want? Let us know in the comments.Image: Credit