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First filed in 2010, an Apple patent was recently granted by the USPTO for iPhones to use a “location-based profile” that monitors for cellular dead zones and dropped calls. The profile uses GPS and Wi-Fi triangulation to create geofences that can help determine where the network black hole resides.
Apple Insider published news of the patent grant on Tuesday, saying that Apple can use the data and patent method to create a database of the network information. In turn, the company could provide it to other handset makers and the network providers, essentially building a widespread group of passive testers. The information is crowdsource and anonymized, so personal user data would not be saved to the database.
This type of system certainly isn’t new: Carriers have long had their own network monitoring services available on smartphones in order to keep tabs on where their infrastructure is performing well and where it isn’t. So unless Apple’s method is superior to that of the carriers, the patent grant may simply be tucked away for use against future lawsuits of patent infringement. On the other hand, if Apple is able to capture more accurate or lower-level data, it could sell it and add more cash to its billions in the bank.
Image credit: USPTO