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The “On-the-go shopping list” patent describes a method of creating an electronic list by scanning specific products as well as aggregating information from other similar apps. It can provide information such as price, product quality, and consumer ratings and can also be integrated with the phone’s Maps program to offer store locations as well as in-store directions. The app can be designed to offer lowest price indicators and let the user divide a shopping list based on which retailers are selling which items. Another function of the app as described in the patent involves scanning items to a list and then checking out at a store electronically. The device paired with the app will have to have either a barcode scanner or include NFC technology.
Both Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) and Google (NASDAQ:GOOG), Apple’s mobile software competitors, are working on improving their e-wallet offerings, but by giving users a way to use an NFC-enabled iPhone as an electronic payment system could help Apple leapfrog its rivals in what is a fairly underdeveloped field at the moment.
The latest patent could make its way into Apple’s PassBook app, which is set to debut along with the iOS 6 operating system later this year. Currently, PassBook can store e-tickets, membership cards, and airplane boarding passes, and does not link with a user’s credit card. Apple chief executive Tim Cook has already said that the PassBook app was a “very key feature” in iOS 6.
Apple also recently acquired fingerprint solutions and electronic security firm AuthenTec (NASDAQ:AUTH), prompting increased speculation that it could soon offer robust, full-fledged e-wallet services.