Apple Patents Mass-Texting New Contact Info

    May 2, 2012
    Shaylin Clark
    Comments are off for this post.

Everybody knows what a pain it can be to change your phone number. Not only do you have to memorize your new number (a step some people never bother to take), you have to update your contact info all over the place, and you have to let all your friends know that your old number doesn’t work anymore. If you’re the kind of person with an address book full of people who need your digits, getting them all your new contact info can be a pain. Sure you can post it on Facebook or Twitter, but what if you don’t want all your Facebook friends or Twitter followers to have your number?

With current technology, you have to either send out a massive email, or bombard everyone you know with texts. Now, thanks to group texting, that last one isn’t too terribly difficult, but it is still a bit time consuming. Wouldn’t it be great if there were a way to just have your new contact info go out to everybody in your address book?

If you think so, then you may be in luck. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has just granted Apple a patent for that very technology. The patent deals with a smartphone feature that will automatically detect when your phone’s number changes and send out a mass text to the people in your address book, letting them know your new contact info.

Of course, you may not want to text everybody in your address book about your new number (for example: my local Pizza Hut has no need to know the best way to get ahold of me). The patent doesn’t mention any customization options with this feature, but it’s highly unlikely that Apple wouldn’t include the ability to select who gets your new info.

Unfortunately, this is only a patent, so there’s no real clue as to when we might actually see this sort of feature coming to the iPhone. On the other hand, it seems like a fairly straightforward software issue, so there is likely no reason it couldn’t be incorporated as soon as iOS 6, which should be coming out this autumn with the next iPhone.

What do you think? Would you like to see a feature like this come to the iPhone? Let us know in the comments.

  • Sandy

    Here are the claims. They specify the things you speculate as missing. And, seems to me this is alsalternatively to temporarily notify contacts of a permanent or temporary phone number change (think traveling abroad). Here are the first 3 claims…

    1. A machine-implemented method in a mobile telephone, comprising: the mobile telephone detecting that a telephone number of the mobile telephone has changed from a first telephone number to a new telephone number; and in response to said detecting, the mobile telephone sending a contact change notice message to each of a plurality of contacts identified in a contacts list of the mobile telephone, wherein the message indicates to its recipient that the mobile telephone has the new telephone number over a finite indicated period of time or until an indicated date and time, and wherein the first telephone number is to be automatically reverted back to, after the finite indicated period of time or after the indicated date and time sent in the contact change notice message.

    2. The method of claim 1, wherein sending comprises: prompting a user of the mobile telephone that sends the contact change notice message to indicate one of a finite period of time over which to have the new telephone number, and a date and time until which to have the new telephone number prior to sending the contact change notice message.

    3. The method of claim 1, wherein sending comprises: prompting a user to select the plurality of contacts to be sent the contact change notice message; and receiving user selections identifying the plurality of contacts of the user from the contact list.