Future generations of iPhones could be used to track friends and family in real time.
Apple is trying to steal a march on its smartphone rivals by submitting patent applications for location sharing and geofencing technology.
It could mean, for example, that parents could keep track of their children, receiving notifications when they leave school.
Knowing where families and friends are would have a host of other possible uses such as making it possible to add to a shopping list when a family member is known to be at a supermarket.
Rendezvous would be easier with an array of custom notifications, such as saying how far somebody was from a meeting point.
Updates could be sent by text, email or even a telephone call.
Samsung are embroiled in a fierce battle with Apple.
The application has been submitted to the US patent office by the company from its headquarters at Cupertino, California.
A second patent application, using geofencing, would make it easier to track people when they are indoors, such as in a shopping centre.
It is likely to use developing technology, known as iBeacons which send messages to comparable devices such as iPhones – via an app.
Apple is working on software which would enable its stores to send messages to customers within its stores.
The patents have been submitted as the battle between Apple and Android shows little sign of abating.
Both companies are due to release new versions of their phone software later this year.
Apple already offers a feature called Find My Friends, which lets you find the specific location of another person via his or her iPhone or iPad. But Find My Friends is geared more toward pointing you to a specific spot, whereas Apple’s patented invention allows for path tracking, or following several points along a specific route.
As described in the patent, your respective devices could also share mapping directions so that you and your friend would be able to easily find each other via your mobile devices. Even further, your devices could tap into a “mirroring” mode that would replicate the view seen on each other’s respective devices.
The system would rely on GPS for navigation purposes but could enable communication between the devices via a cellular network, Wi-Fi or Bluetooth. Assuming both you and your friend had a sufficient signal, cellular would obviously be the most efficient technology as it would allow for the greatest distance between the two of you.
Concerns over privacy and security always arise in any technology such as the one described here. But as Apple points out, the feature would need to be enabled by the person being tracked, so you wouldn’t be able to track people without their permission.