Is Apple getting into the travel business?
The Cupertino, Calif.-based company today was awarded a host of patents by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. However, the one that stood out describes an application, called iTravel, that handles all of a person's needs when traveling. Patently Apple first reported it.
According to the filing, iTravel would allow users to make reservations for a trip and then share them with others. In addition, the application could be used to check in and handle checked luggage. The application appears to work with Macs, as well as Apple's iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch.
Although Apple has not announced iTravel, the company is slowly but surely working its way into the travel business. At the Worldwide Developers Conference last month, Apple announced Passbook for iOS. The application lets users store not only loyalty and gift cards, but also boarding passes and tickets. It's not a full step to iTravel, but appears to be inching its way towards the implementation described in the patent.
There might be a good reason iTravel hasn't come to Apple's mobile products yet: it uses near-field communication to communicate ticketing information. If Apple's next iPhone and iPad ship with near-field communication built-in, it's possible they might support the application.
Still, it's important to note that Apple files for patents all the time, and in many cases, the products described in its granted patents are never released. Whether iTravel will ever launch remains to be seen.
CNET has contacted Apple for comment on the iTravel patent. We will update this story when we have more information.