Apple wants to help you fight the forces of spam, by improving the use of disposable e-mail addresses.
A patent named "Disposable Email Address Generation and Mapping to a Regular Email Account," published Thursday by the US Patent and Trademark Office, suggests a more integrated and backend process for creating temporary e-mail addresses that you can easily throw away.
Some people use disposable addresses to cut down on spam. But that process currently presents some pitfalls, as described by Apple. You typically have to turn to a different provider than your current e-mail host to get such an address. Some sites won't accept disposable addresses.
These types of addresses are often recognized as disposable, defeating their whole purpose. And replies to e-mails sent to your disposable address and forwarded to your permanent address are usually sent using the disposable one, revealing it to other people.
Instead, Apple envisions a disposable address created by an e-mail server, which then manages all messages and their destinations on the backend. Once your disposable address has outlived its usefulness, you can easily dump it for a new one that is then associated with your permanent address.
Further, your disposable address would contain certain information designed to keep tabs on its use. Should this address start receiving spam, you could use the information to track down which recipient may have leaked it to a spammer. Finally, Apple's invention would be able to tell whether a reply to a sender's e-mail came from your disposable or permanent address and juggle the process accordingly.
As always, a patent filing doesn't mean this technology will ever see the real world. But a more seamless way of using disposable addresses could be a good weapon in the war against spam.