Apple’s plans for advanced on-device advertising have prompted more horrified editorial, this time courtesy of the New York Times. The surprise is earned by the Cupertino company’s patent application for an “enforcement routine” whereby on-screen adverts can not only seize focus from the current activity – whether that be a browsing session on an iPhone, video playback on an Apple TV or typing on a MacBook Pro – but force the user to sit through it until they can show they’ve paid attention by clicking a specific button or answering a question.
The motivation for the intrusion, Apple’s patent explains, would be cheaper access to the latest kit. Companies would subsidize the hardware in return for the user agreeing to pay attention to the adverts; if, at a future point, the marketing messages got too much, the user could settle up for the full cost of the device and banish the ads.
To stop you from viewing the advert as a timely prompt to take a bathroom break or make a drink, the so-called “enforcements” used to assure viewer presence can escalate in their complexity. What starts out as a simple tap or clicking on on-screen button, for instance, can become typing in various keyboard combinations, a date or hunting down a rapidly shrinking on-screen control, anything Apple can think of in order to make sure “an attentive user” is present.
Microsoft attempted to patent a similar ad-based system for pay-per-use functionality at the end of last year. That system used hardware throttling to portion out different uses of a high-spec PC, while potentially costing only the same as an entry-level model.