Apple Developing iGroups Social Networking App? -- Patent Watch
According to Patently Apple, Apple is laying the foundations for a potential iGroups app that would allow like-minded iPhone (or iPod touch and iPad users, presumably) to set up MobileMe-powered social networks at events like WWDC (Apple's yearly World Wide Developers Conference).
The idea is to allow groups of friends or colleagues attending such events as a concert, a tradeshow, business meeting, wedding or rally to stay in communication with each other as a group to share information or reactions to live events as they're occurring. The technology behind the new iGroup social networking applications works with a very sophisticated cryptographic key generation system to ensure security and privacy of your communications. Interestingly, the patent states that if one of the devices in your group happens to be without true positioning technology, it appears that Apple's MobileMe service will provide some sort of "virtual GPS" capability to that user so that they could be aware of the locations of others in the group. Apple's patent provides us with example scenarios of both a concert and WWDC event to clarify the service. This marks Apple's fourth social networking application made public since the start of 2010 - which clearly indicates that Apple now has this hot new sector in its crosshairs.
As with anything Apple patent-related, whether or not it ever makes its way in front of consumers is anyone's guess. Still, this looks interesting and given how other companies and devices are embracing the social experience, it's something Apple has to be paying attention to.