The latest patent filed by Apple shows a possible Ping-like social networking tool for the retail world. It would allow for iPhone owners to share comments, opinions and recommendations for different products from different stores for their friends to view. Like any patent there's no telling when, if ever, this particular one will find its way into a real, shipping product, but it does hive us a glimpse at what Apple is working on.

Basically what it would entail is using your iPhone while shopping to gain product lists from a kiosk located inside the store. Those products and any information about them would be viewable in the proposed social networking app. Once you view a product you could ask your friends their opinions on the item to help you decide if you should make the purchase or hold off for the time being. Your friends can rate, review, or check yes or no for the products you share.

Apple feels it is a lot of work trying to coordinate shopping with friends or gaining the attention of a salesclerk. Personally I think I can handle shopping for myself but what about you? Do you need Apple's help in deciding what to buy in the form of yet another social network?

[ Apple Insider ]