Apple has been issued a new patent by the USPTO that outlines an interesting new feature that could one day make it to mobile phone users. In the days when answering machines were common with landline phones, many people would listen in as callers left messages. The listener could decide to pick up the call while the message was being left if they wanted.
Apple has been granted a new patent by the Patent and Trademark office that would allow mobile users the ability to listen in to voice mails being left in real time without the person leaving the message knowing. The patent is No. 8,666,034 and is titled "Audio call screening for hosted voice mail systems.
The patent shows a way that allows the users phone to establish a conference call with the voice mail server and the person leaving the message. The listener's microphone would be muted so the person leaving the message wouldn't know they were there.
It's unclear if the listener would be able to pick up the call if the message being left was important. Apple Insider reports that the patent is one that the Apple backed Rockstar Consortium purchased form Nortel in 2011. Apple was the main backer of that purchase with $2.6 billion of its money used in the deal. It’s unclear if other members of the consortium would be able to use the patent or not.