The patent filing for "Methods to determine availability of user based on mobile phone status" was published Thursday by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, CNET reported.
Apple's patent would eliminate the uncertainty of whether a person is available or is in a dead signal area or has turned on Airplane mode, by alerting a user as to the person's status -- no more being dumped into voice mail.
The patent filing described how an iPhone would talk to Apple in the background to report its status and call preferences, and such settings as location, signal strength, battery life and mode would be sent to Apple's servers.
An iPhone user contemplating calling that person would see the status of their phone on screen and then decide whether to complete the call.
If Apple chooses to pursue the technology it would inevitably bring up privacy issues, suggesting such a feature would almost certainly include an opt-in or opt-out capability.