It looks like Apple wants to make the iPhone’s home screen a little more useful. The company filed a patent for home screen icons related to a contact, essentially meaning that in future versions of iOS, you could be able to call a favorite contact from the home screen.
It’s important to note that the new patent is a continuation of one that was filed in 2008, so it could be that Apple is reviving a concept that it was working on in the early days of the iPhone.
Of course, the concept isn’t all that radical. Android phones have been able to add deep links to apps for some time now. Traditionally, however, iPhones have been stuck with icons only for apps. Apple has been opening that up a little over the past few years, especially with Siri Shortcuts, which allows users to quickly access Shortcuts at the tap of an icon. Considering that, we wouldn’t be surprised to see Apple add more similar features to other apps, like the Contacts app.
Adding contacts to the home screen, based on the patent, looks pretty straightforward. All the user would need to do is open up the contact in the app, then tap a button that says “Add to Home Screen.” Users would then be able to tap on the Home screen icon to access the contact card. It’s currently unclear if users could create icons, for example, that call a contact rather than simply open up the contact.
The patent does, however, describe a smart implementation of the tech, too. For example, it notes that “in one aspect, an icon associated with an entity can be temporarily displayed on the mobile device based on the proximity of the mobile device to the entity.” In other words, if you’re near a friend you’re trying to meet up, the contact icon for that friend could show up on the home screen for a short amount of time, allowing you to quickly and easily get in touch with them.
It will be interesting to see Apple start getting into allowing users to customize the Home screen a little more. Google has been experimenting with intelligently showing contact information too — though through so-called “Slices,” which are displayed in the app drawer, instead of on the actual Home screen. It’s entirely possible that the new feature could show up in iOS 13 — though we’ll have to wait until WWDC 2019 to see if that ends up happening.
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