Despite the incredible realism of the drawing above to the left, we're probably not looking at iPhone OS 4.0 right here. Instead we've got Apple doing what Apple does: applying for a patent
for some pretty vague functionality that may or may not end up in a device someday. No harm in that game, but it looks like Google's already done the "put a contact on the home screen with their picture" thing before Apple got a chance, as demonstrated on the right. There are other little tidbits to Apple's approach, however. Apple is naturally showing that little numeric badge we know so well, to show what sort of new activity the contact has (hopefully that pulls calls, SMS and email into one pretty little package, like we've seen on other modern
operating systems), but Apple also mentions that "an icon associated with an entity can be temporarily displayed on the mobile device based on the proximity of the mobile device to the entity." So, Stalking 2.0. We like it, and hope to see it in some future iPhone software, but between the crazy broad claims in the rest of the patent and Android's prior art, we'd say Apple's chances of getting this 2008 submission approved are pretty slim.