The actual Patent title reads "Personal area network systems and devices and methods for use thereof" but PANTS is much snappier don't you think? That's Personal Area Network Technology Systems in full.
Apple is looking to patent always-on from anywhere access to the Internet. I thought that was already tied up in something called a 'smartphone' which I am pretty sure, from the back of my brain somewhere, I recall Apple being involved with.
Anyway. The new patent filing apparently actually relates to a system which would allow products like iPods or Macbooks to connect to the Internet from anywhere by making use of RF modules. Or, in other words, by connecting to an iPhone.
According to AppleInsider "These special RF modules would be "constructed to be a high efficiency, low cost, devices" that may lack a direct user interface, like the company's AirPort base stations. They'd package short-range circuity -- such as WiFi, Bluetooth and other high frequency systems (2.4 GHz, and 5.6 GHz communication systems) -- for connecting to devices that lack long-range circuitry, in addition to long-range circuitry that those host devices can tap into, such as GSM, GPRS, EDGE, and CDMA."
Well, that clears that up then.
It's actually not a bad idea, when you get your head around it and start taking it seriously. After all, the RF modules could be attached to your clothing or a bag, inside your car or on a train, in fact pretty much anywhere at all.
The concept of Personal Area Networks is nothing new, of course, and Bluetooth was meant to herald a whole new age of PAN-enabled devices. To a degree it has succeeded, but the Apple patent provides a glimpse into how some technology companies want to take the idea a whole lot further.
Certainly it makes a lot more sense than some patents that tech outfits have been filing of late. Like Amazon which has patented a method of giving reviewers a virtual badge and Microsoft which has patented Page Up Page Down navigation.