What does this mean, exactly? Simply put, it's an answering machine for your iPhone. Just as the conventional answering machines for landline phones, Apple's audio call screening system allows you to listen to a voicemail message while the caller is leaving it. If you decide that the call is important, you can answer the phone, thus cancelling the further recording of the given voice message. Of course, you can allow the caller to leave his voice message.
It seems that this call screening system creates a conference call between the caller, the voicemail server, and the telephone terminal. Apple's newly-obtained patent states that "the telephone terminal is equipped to open only the speaker channel for monitroing the message and will provide a fully bi-directional connection using a microphone channel".
This patent was one of the roughly 6,000 patents that Nortel, a network equipment manufacturer, sold to Rockstar, a consortium between Apple, Microsoft, Sony, ant others. After Nortel went bankrupt back in 2011, it sold this plethora of patents to Rockstar for some $4.5 billion.
Only time will reveal if this audio call screening system will make its way to the next iPhone. What are your thoughts on the matter?
US Patent No.8,666,034 images
source: USPTO via AppleInsider