If you ever drive someone's car or let someone else drive your vehicle, you likely spend a couple minutes before driving having to re-adjust certain aspects of the car to meet your needs and preference: the side-view mirrors, the steering wheel, the seat height and distance from wheel. Apple has a different vision for your driving future, however, according to a patent that was dug up from the USPTO website.
The system details a single portable device that can be used to record the information that applies to the user's customized settings, such as an iPhone. This device would be part of an automatic system that retrieves this information from the device and uses it to automatically adjust the settings in an environment to the user's details.
For example, if someone likes their side mirrors angled outwards toward the fringes of visibility, the portable device would communicate this with the car and the changes would be made automatically. Because of the software run on the portable device - the iPhone, perhaps - the changes would be applicable to a wide range of cars rather than one's own vehicle.
Because of this, the user's preferences could be applied to a car they don't typically drive, such as a rental vehicle. While cars are the main subject in the patent, the idea behind the project wouldn't have to be limited to just vehicles. Hotel rooms, for example, could also use the same system for automatic climate adjustment.
Says the filing: "While up to this point the present technology has largely been described in the context of automobiles, it should be appreciated that the present technology is equally applicable to many other environments. For example a hotel room might be another example wherein the present technology could be used to configure climate control settings, and television and lighting preferences. Further, it should be appreciate[sic] that in some environments translation of measurements or data might not be needed."