Have you ever had that awful feeling where your phone rings and you see it’s that one friend you haven’t talked to in a while, and although you do have a few minutes to chat it’s just not the time to get into a long, extended, “How’s your baaaaby?” discussion, you still feel awfully guilty hitting “Ignore”? Apple is looking to alleviate some of that guilt with a patent for an iPhone feature that would dissuade friends from calling you when you’re otherwise engaged.
It works kind of like instant messaging, notes LATimes.com: For example, Gmail users know that a green dot next to a friend’s name on Gchat means they’re active on their computer and probably could reply, yellow means they’re idle and red means no, do not talk to me unless your toes are on fire.
The proposed feature would give callers an idea of whether or not they should even try dialing, by showing similar status dots alongside names in a contacts list. That dot would be determined by things like your ringer volume setting, location, cell reception strength, battery level and calendar.
“Incoming voice calls to mobile devices can be intrusive under certain situations,” the patent application says. “The caller in such cases has no control over whether or not the call will be accepted.”
Users could turn the feature on or off at their leisure, but it appears they wouldn’t have much control otherwise over the status. That would be something to change, perhaps — maybe you’ve just got a case of the Don’t Wanna Talk Because I’m Grumpy Todays but are in an area with good service. Or maybe you forgot your ringer was on silent but really need your mother to call and tell you the recipe for clam linguine. In either case, control would be nice.