Apple Call-Waiting Patent Displays Information While On Hold
April 3, 2013

Apple Call-Waiting Patent Displays Information While On Hold

Michael Harper for — Your Universe Online

There´s plenty of downtime in the day if you only just look for it. Those who prefer to squeeze every ounce of productivity are experts at this. These are the people you´ll see multitasking while they´re out and about; tapping away at their laptops while waiting for an oil change, holding conference calls while doing their grocery shopping, or even clearing email while in line at the bagel shop. Multitasking power users spend a lot of time on the phone, and Apple has an eye to make them more productive during their downtime.

A patent granted to Apple this week could give these power users important information about their daily schedule while waiting on hold.

This patent is called “Communications system that provides user-selectable data when user is on-hold.” And the information to be displayed would depend on who the user is on hold with.

For instance, a phone call to the doctor's office could display the date and time of your next appointment and even the weather forecast for that day. According to the patent, each party in the conversation will be able to tell the “system” if they´ve been put on hold or are placing the other person on hold. At this point, the system will kick in and display some user-defined information.

According to the patent filing:

“A user can configure the criteria that a system uses to select the adaptive information that can be presented. When setting up a device, a user can create a profile which determines the type and quantity of adaptive information that a system presents when a user is on hold. For example, a possible user profile can include presenting adaptive information about a person that a user is communicating with when a user is put on hold.”

The patent filing goes on to describe a situation where a user can choose to have the local news of the caller displayed whenever they´re placed on hold. The user can also choose to have information relevant to both parties displayed in this on-hold screen, just like the doctor's office scenario detailed above.

This system could also display certain information about the person being called. For instance, if your mother places you on hold while she pours herself a cup of tea, her birthday could pop up on the hold screen, as well as a user-created reminder to pick up her gift a few days before. In another example, were a potential client to put you on hold, the display could show a list of previous missed calls and voicemails left between the two parties.

Furthermore, the patent filing claims this system could inform callers when the other person on the line is out of the country or in the building next door.

This system could also display advertisements, which may or may not be the opposite of useful information.

The system described in Apple´s patent filing would be monitoring the phone call to determine if and when the conversation is placed on hold. Once the conversation resumes, the on-hold display would disappear.

The system needs the participation of both parties to work, of course. If one caller doesn´t provide any adaptive information, the other caller won´t see this screen. Yet, even though this system requires both parties to provide consent by way of information, those particularly concerned about privacy could be made uncomfortable by a system which listens in and waits for a call to be placed on hold and deliver advertisements.

Others, like the aforementioned multitasking power users, on the other hand, could find this patent extremely useful.