Apple Inc. (AAPL) Hints at Radical iPhone Changes

The annual remodeling of the Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) iPhone has made it less of a tech tool and more a fashion accessory. As a result, the iPhone is the tech equivalent of Angelina Jolie – people just can’t get enough info.

Though the iPhone 4 is less than two months out of the box, that means its time again to start the rumor mill about the next round of Apple iPhone upgrades for 2011 and beyond. And this goes far beyond the buzz of a handset that is compatible with Verizon (NYSE: VZ).

A look at some recent Apple patents reveal some radical changes in the works for the next generation of iPhones. Here are five of the most compelling patents and prospective upgrades:

Your iPhone Will Remember Your Favorite Snack: Imagine that you’ll only need to get your iPhone on the same table as a bag of chips for it to know how many calories there are per serving. Based on a patent published in early July, that’s exactly the kind of intelligence future iPhones will have. The patent hints at “Products+,” an app that will use near field communications technology to research products. It’s essentially a weak version of WiFi between your iPhone and microchips inserted in products by their manufacturers. The patent for “Products+” also describes a feature that would let you see a device’s user manual after scanning its barcode. Don’t know how to set the clock on your microwave? Scan it, press “View Extras” in “Products+,” and find out how.

Your iPhone Will Recognize You : The next iPhone won’t just know more about your favorite snacks — it will also know more about you. An Apple patent entitled “Systems and Methods for Identifying Unauthorized Users on Electronic Device” was revealed just this week, and it describes not only how iPhone 5 security may work but also how your family can share an iPhone. The new technology would recognize its user by scanning their face, recognizing their voice and even monitoring their heartbeat. Any irregularities, and the iPhone won’t unlock. It will even look out for unusual activity like hacking or “jailbreaking” and it will report the activity to you via text message, email, or phone call. The tech described could also be used to set up multiple users for a single machine. This means that when you hand your son the phone so he can play games in the car, the iPhone will know not to let him access the email app when he’s done with Frogger.

iPhones Replace Business Cards: Getting current iPhones to share information with one another isn’t very convenient. Two iPhones first need to detect one another as wireless devices and then must be synced before they can exchange basic user information like phone numbers or data like photos. The “Exciter” technology revealed in an Apple patent just two weeks ago would make the process much smoother by letting iPhones exchange certain information as soon as they were within a specified proximity to each other. That means when you meet a new client, all you have to do is tap iPhones and voila – contact info is exchanged.

An iPhone Keyboard … Kind Of: Apple’s “Multi Touch with Multi Haptics” patent revealed earlier this summer describes a new iPhone touchscreen that provides a whole new level of feedback to users. Rather than just creating tactile resistance to make it feel like your pressing buttons on the screen, the new patent describes a technology that will trigger vibrations in specific parts of the screen when you’re touching multiple spots. It would add a greater level of sensitivity to an already versatile machine and open up new doors in app development.

A Solar Powered iPhone: The next iPhone might have the best battery life of any model yet, provided you spend time outside. A patent revealed this past January describes a new power system for Apple’s mobile devices that would allow the next iPhone to get its juice from both an internal battery and solar cells lining the device. The Energy Saver in the iPhone’s preferences would even allow users to set how much solar power the device should save up to be used later on.

As of this writing, Anthony Agnello did not own a position in any of the stocks named here.

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