Anyone who has ever sent a text message to the wrong person can appreciate the idea behind a newly published Apple patent filing.
Published Thursday by the US Patent and Trademark Office, a patent application dubbed "Generation of a user interface based on contacts" describes a way to display the image of your receipient in a chat screen as a visual clue that your text is going to the right person.
Many IM clients, including Apple's own iMessage app, display just the first name or phone number of your chat buddy. As such, you may not even know who's on the other end at first. Launch a group chat with multiple people, and you could easily lose track of who you're trying to text.
In Apple's vision, a photo of your chat partner would appear unobtrusively in the background of the chat window. That photo can be taken directly from your Contacts list. If no photo exists, then a different image or icon could be associated with each specific person.
But what happens if you're juggling a group chat? In that case, the screen would display images of each individual involved in the chat and simply highlight the image of the person you're currently trying to message. For example, the image of the active person might appear in color, while the other images would display in gray scale.
The images themselves would blend into the background so that you could still clearly see and read the text in the foreground.
As always, a patent application doesn't mean Apple will necessarily bring this idea to the real world. But any technology that eases the embarrassment of misdirected text messages would be welcomed by many.