Thursday, May 19, 2011

Apple Seeks Patent on Location-Based Network Detection

On May 19, 2011, the USPTO published patent application 12/620,421, Location-Based Network Detection.  The concept will sound familiar to anyone who has been following the recent controversy regarding "location tracking" by the iPhone.

Screen shot 2011 05 19 at 7 10 14 AM


This is not the first application to be published on the topic.  For instance, on March 3, 2011, application 12/553,534, Location Histories for Location Aware Devices, was published.  That application focuses on the process of storing network transmitted information in a database, and translating the data into position coordinates.




A mobile device establishes communication with a number of wireless cellular networks at particular locations and records the locations and network information associated with the wireless cellular networks. The network information can be used to narrow a search for an available wireless cellular network from a plurality of potentially available wireless cellular networks when the mobile device is operating at a stored location. In one aspect, a Radio Frequency (RF) receiver on a mobile device can receive a broadcast radio signal from a transmitter and use the signal to determine an approximate location of the device based on a known location of the transmitter. A match between the approximate device location and wireless cellular network transmitters in communication range of the mobile device can be used to narrow a search for wireless cellular networks.


Representative Claim

1. A method performed by one or more processors of a mobile device, the method comprising:

  • receiving a plurality of broadcast radio signals;
  • processing the broadcast radio signals to determine an approximate location of the mobile device based on known locations of transmitters that are transmitting the broadcast radio signals;
  • determining a plurality of wireless cellular networks that can potentially communicate with the mobile device at the approximate location;
  • establishing a search order for the plurality of wireless cellular networks; and
  • searching for at least one of the plurality of wireless cellular networks based on the search order.


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