The US Patent and Trademark Office has published a new Apple patent application that adds further features to its previous Shopping app patent filings.
Patently Apple reports that the updates to the Shopping app patent, which relates to Apple's 'iWallet' patents, adds several features to the company's Shopping app, including turn-by-turn directions, a user rating system, online shopping and retailer icons.
The first of the new additions suggests that Apple is working to integrate its Maps app with its Shopping app. The patent claim states that a device, such as an iPhone, could provide the user with turn-by-turn directions that will guide the user to a particular shop.
A user rating system would allow iPhone owners to rate a product in the Shopping app, and users could be given the ability to purchase a product online through the app.
Additionally, Apple's Shopping app could present users with information about a particular product along with a "list of user touch selectable icons related to select retailers selling the product and pricing of the product by each of the retailers."
These new patent claims indicate that Apple is continuing to work on its iWallet and Shopping apps, which are rumoured to be on their way to iOS devices with Apple's iOS 7, set to be revealed at WWDC in June.
In April, Morgan Stanley analyst Katy Huberty predicted that iOS 7 will include a 'killer app' in the form of a new internet service, such as a mobile payment system like that described in Apple's 'iWallet' patents, which expands upon the Passbook app.
An iWallet feature could mean that Apple is planning to introduce near field communication (NFC) functionality to the iPhone with the next-generation of the device. NFC is a set of short-range wireless standards that let mobile phones communicate with each other – or with other electronic devices. A number of NFC-equipped Android phones can act as an e-wallet, paying for goods with a swipe of your handset.
Passbook – which offers a partial e-wallet experience already, providing quick access to tickets, boarding passes and loyalty cards – is Apple's closest approximation of the idea currently, and could also be expanded to include NFC and mobile payments.