Apple patents "Places" as a social networking trademark

While Apple and social networking didn't get off to a good start with Ping!, it appears Apple may be willing to try again with a new patent pointing to a social networking feature they are titling "Places". (Does this sound familiar to anyone else?)

The patent shows that Places will be a social networking type service that will use the assistance of GPS to locate users on iOS devices. Whether or not it will integrate with Ping! is yet to be seen. The service is pretty much the same thing most mobile users already know how to use through apps like Gowalla and Foursquare. Ping! didn't seem to do as well as Apple would have liked so this may be a move to try and tie in the two services.

My big issue with Apple creating services like this is that it only encompasses the Apple ecosystem. What about my friends that are on other platforms such as Android? I can already interact with them through services like Gowalla and Foursquare, which are cross-platform. Apple would have to give me a really good reason to use their service to get me to abandon apps I'm already familiar with. Perhaps they'll integrate access to those services through their own. I'm still surprised they're using the title "Places" since Facebook already uses that title for their check-in service, and Apple already uses it for its facial recognition in iPhoto and Aperture.

What do you guys think? Would you use it or stick with what you already have?

Patently Apple

Allyson Kazmucha

Help and how to editor for iMore. I can take apart an iPhone in less than 6 minutes. I also like coffee and Harry Potter more than anyone really should.

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There are 16 comments. Add yours.

fastlane says:

I’m still surprised they’re using the title “Places” since Facebook already uses that title for their check-in service, and Apple already uses it for its facial recognition in iPhoto and Aperture.

"Places" is also Google's business listing.

whatever says:

You can't patent a trademark.

Eric says:

With Apple you can or Steve Jobs will go all mental

9thWonder says:

You're probably wasting you're breath as I've found trying to discuss, Copyright law, trademark law, or patent law with people on a tech site is an exercise in futility.

MacBipes says:

You can't triple stamp a double stamp.

Roy says:

Places could simply be a part or extension of Ping. It doesn't have to a full blown independent service. Some components of any popular trend share some common ID's. Desktops use a "Mouse." While someone could call it a pointy-thingy I'm glad that they don't. Some conventions are needed to grow a sector for everyone to enjoy. So Places is likely to be a part a social service rather than being the social service.

(Copy of) Dev says:

Trademark. Not patent.
There is a world of difference between the two.

Allyson Kazmucha says:

I fixed it but I was simply going off of what was in the actual patent, which referred to it as a trademark as well, several times.

stynkfysh says:

What about the already existing Google Places?
google doc com / places

fastlane says:

Well, Google Places isn't a social network, so I don't see a conflict. There are several companies named Ford, but only one builds automobiles.
Besides, I think sounds like just a patent for the service, not a trademark for the name. But I haven't read the article, either. ;)

Dryland says:

"and Apple already uses it for its facial recognition in iPhoto and Aperture."
That is called Faces, not Places.
Places in iPhoto and Aperture uses metadata from photos to determine the location the photo was taken.
Sorry, but that was a really bad oversight.

Allyson Kazmucha says:

I'm gonna blame that one on rene. I didn't put that lol but I think that's what he meant. I'll fix it.

fastlane says:

When one's as busy as Rene, one is bound to make mistakes. The man cranks out the articles, and does a great job of it.

OmariJames says:

I would think they would do this with the photos app the way ping is with itunes ... maybe they'll enable people ( who are friends on places ) who are taking pictures on their different iOS devices to share photos. People who aren;t there can comment on the pictures bla bla...