About 50 rungs further down the innovation ladder, some new Apple patent applications revealed this morning are definitely less interesting and complex than the few we covered last week. In fact, considering some of the technology has already existed for quite some time we’re not even sure why Apple is attempting to patent a few of these things. In any case however, it’s never a bad idea to stop and take a look at where the iPhone and iPhone OS may be headed in the future so let’s start at the top. The drawing above depicts an object identification interface that would allow the iPhone to recognize and deliver information about an object as a result of analyzing a photo/image or by scanning a bar code/RFID tag. Novel? Definitely not. Useful? Probably. Hit the jump for more.

This next patent application covers something Apple was very proud of as a recent addition to iPhoto ’09 — facial recognition. The difference here is that Apple envisions using the technology for controlling access and various handset functions which, if you ask us, doesn’t sound overly appealing or useful. In fact, we’d venture to say it’s less intuitive than other currently available options… Like typing a password.

Here we have a message filtering patent application that describes various methods for controlling and filtering different text-based communications:

Control application includes an instructional tool or study aid where the administrator sets one or more modes, such as language, vocabulary, grammar, spelling, punctuation and/or other content of a text-based communication based on, for example, a user’s age or grade level. This can be especially useful, for example, such as when a child’s grades go down. A parent can then institute a condition to improve a child’s grades. For example, the control application may require a user during specified time periods to send messages in a designated foreign language, to include certain designated vocabulary words, or to use proper designated spelling, designated grammar and designated punctuation and like designated language forms based on the user’s defined skill level and/or designated language skill rating. If the text-based communication fails to include the required language or format, the control application may alert the user and/or the administrator/parent of the absence of such text.

Well isn’t Apple conscientious?

Next up are a couple of patent applications pertaining to messaging that are designed to make things a bit easier and more efficient. Above is a group messaging feature that will check the delivery status of sent messages after a predetermined time interval and alert the sender when certain recipients have not read the message. Status reports, mmm. The differentiating factor here we suppose, is the interface.

Related to the patent above, Apple also filed an application for a process that would notify users of unread messages and emails or new voicemails from a specific contact before a new message is delivered to said contact. Not a bad idea.

Last but not least — actually it probably is least — the ability to change voice output. Fair enough…

Despite the restrictions involved in playing back audio files, users of media devices may wish to change the audio output of audio files. A mother, for example, might wish to change the narrator’s voice in a pre-recorded, commercially available audiobook to her own voice, so that her child can listen to the audiobook as narrated in the mother’s voice in her absence. In another scenario, a student listening to a lecture as a podcast file might want to change the audio of certain sections of the lecture to sound like someone else’s voice, so as to emphasize important parts of the lecture.

Sounds like more trouble than it’s worth if you ask us, but perhaps there’s more of a demand for Oprah’s voice reading steamy romance novels than we were aware of.

[Via Unwired View]

Read (object identification)
Read (facial recognition)
Read (group messaging delivery status)
Read (unread message alerts)

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