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Apple tries to patent travel, hotel, shopping apps

The company applied for a patent on mobile applications for booking flights and hotels, as well as mobile shopping services.

Apple applied for a patent on a travel-booking mobile app.
Apple applied for a patent on a travel-booking mobile app. USPTO/Screenshot by Erica Ogg/CNET

In its App Store, Apple provides a platform for third-party developers to design and sell mobile applications. But the company also appears to have its eye on patenting a few key types of apps.

Unwired View unearthed three patent applications filed on Apple's behalf that cover travel- and shopping-related apps. One for travel booking, one for hotel services, and another for high-end fashion retail. All three were applied for between October and December, but were published by the US Patent and Trademark Office on Thursday.

The first, a travel-booking app, is designed to reserve travel plans, check in to flights, and deliver airport and flight info. As described, the app appears to need some sort of integration into an airline's own system since it proposes to request in-flight services and provide arrival notification to people waiting to pick up the traveler. It also would show nearby restaurant and entertainment options, and detailed information about the location the person is traveling to.

The hotel services app would also require some sort of integration to a hotel's information system. A person using the app could request services before arriving at the hotel, check in, check out, order room service or pay-per-view movies. It also would appear to put some hotel concierges out of work: it's designed to be its own concierge service, making local restaurant reservations or buying tickets to local events.

The last one isn't travel-related, but it aims to provide similar types of remote services: the user of this app would get information about promotional and invite-only high-end fashion events, and enable him or her to browse and buy clothes through the app, see what's in stock, and review fashion outlets. There's also a recommendation feature based on personal clothing preferences.

It's important to keep in mind that these are just patent applications. Lots of tech companies, including Apple, apply for patents just in case they might want to pursue a certain technology in the future. It's not necessarily an indication that it's something Apple is working on at the moment.

Still, it does confirm something else: that Apple has no problem competing with its outside developers.

One feature of Apple's proposed patent for a hotel services application.
One feature of Apple's proposed patent for a hotel services application USPTO/Screenshot by Erica Ogg/CNET