Apple Working On Audio Text Messaging For iPhone

Apple patent for iGroups

Audio text messaging could soon be coming to the iPhone if a recent patent application filed by Apple with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is anything to go by. In the filing, Apple notes that conventional text messages may not be easily readable under certain circumstances due to the small size of the display or due to the ambient light conditons. 

Furthermore, the application also notes that conventional text messages mandate the need for a backend-server that restricts the amount of information that can be processed at any given time. 

In order to tackle these issues, the patent filing calls for the "vocalization" of multimedia data by the sender's device followed by the transfer of this data over a voice channel to the destination device. This is in contrast to the use of data channel for conventional text messaging. The filing notes that the technology can enable any textual data on the display screen, like contact numbers, to be vocalized before being sent over a voice channel. 

"The invention, however, provides a mechanism whereby data is passed between a sender and receiver unit by way of voice channel only bypassing use of the data channel used in conventional arrangements. In this way, a sender can select that data which he/she desires to send to a receiver unit using by first converting the data into an appropriate vocal/voice format which is then forwarded to a receiver unit by way of the voice channel. Once received at the receiver unit, the vocalized data can be converted to an audio signal, which is then output by way of an audio output device (such as a speaker, earphone, etc.). This arrangement is particularly well suited for people having visual problems or in those situations where viewing the data on a small display screen (typical of most personal communication devices) is problematic."

Apple patent for voice based text messaging

The filing further notes that in the absence of a backend-server, undelivered messages cannot be stored for future transmissions in the traditional way. To solve this, the inventors describe the use of a memory device to store the multimedia data until the voice channel to transfer the data is established. 

As Apple Insider notes, such a technology could enable the iPhone to be used like walkie-talkies where text clippings may be replaced by voice clippings. 

Sounds interesting, let us know what you think in the comments.

[USPTO via Apple Insider]