Apple was awared 46 new patents by the US Patent and Trademark Office on Tuesday. One stands out as a compelling, albeit outdated, idea.
Apple last year filed for a patent on push-to-talk technology, similar to what Nextel offered before being swallowed up by Sprint and subsequently shuttered. The patent, which was awarded on Tuesday, describes a method by which a device owner presses the corresponding button to initiate the conversation. That data is then transmitted over a cellular or standard broadband network, hits a push-to-talk server, and reaches its destination. The feature describes a walkie-talkie-like experience without any limit on distance.
Push-to-talk was once all the rage in the mobile world when Nextel brought it to the US as an alternative to standard calling. After Sprint acquired Nextel, however, the technology was on the downswing, due in part to device design constraints and the fact that it ran on a separate technology, essentially doubling Sprint's costs on cell towers. Before too long, push-t0-talk was scuttled.
That Apple is now at the very least thinking about push-to-talk is interesting, if nothing else. But as with every other major company, Apple files for patents all the time, and many of those technologies never find their way into products. Adding push-to-talk to one of its devices, however, could help Apple's iPhones (or even iPads) stand out in the marketplace.
Last year, AT&T launched an iPhone app that allowed iPhone 5 and iPhone 4S users engage in conversations in a walkie-talkie-like fashion with its Enhanced Push-to-Talk technology. The app supported walkie-talkie communication for up to 250 people at the same time.
In addition to winning the push-to-talk patent, Apple was awarded intellectual property on slide-to-unlock functionality, location-based services, and managing digital content, among other features.
CNET has contacted Apple for comment on its newly granted patents. We will update this story when we have more information.
Apple's shares are up nearly $3 to $526.37 in premarket trading.
(Via Patently Apple)