Apple has announced the imminent releaase of iGroup, a patented small group, geolocational social networking solution:
- Abhinav Lal, Apple patents new mobile social networking technology called iGroup
Apple has been working on this technology since 2008 - when it applied for a patent (Group Formation Using Anonymous Broadcast Information) for a new mobile technology that it is now calling iGroup - as the USPTO revealed today. The communications-based social networking applications will be location-aware, and allow users to start a temporary social network, enjoying the advantages of video conferencing, text/voice chat, and file/business card exchanges.
The temporary social network that users can create will be a closed group, and will also allow users to see who within the group is in close proximity to them, using a location-aware technology which will probably be powered by GPS. According to Patently Apple, a website that keeps track of Apple’s patent filings, iGroup is a “new service that will work on your iPhone and likely work with [Apple’s] MobileMe”. It goes on to say that 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.”
One thing not made clear is whether iPhones (or other Apple products) are the only devices that can participate in these groups.
My sense is that this sort of social group formation will not tale off if it is only geared to short-term proximity-based groups. They really should support an open follower model with short term proximity alerting and messaging.