Anyone who has spent even a modicum of their time browsing the Internet over the last few years will be aware of how annoying pop-up and embedded ads can be, especially if they involve audio and video and particularly if it’s more difficult than it should be to find the ‘close’ button. Thankfully it doesn’t usually take too long to remove the offending source from our screens, but those who are particularly irked by this form of interruption will not be placated by a recent patent filed by Apple.
According to reports, the tech giant is seeking approval for a system that will effectively "force" the consumer to view an advert that may appear on any product that has a display. The real crunch here is that you’ll be quizzed on the content of the advert, in some form or another, with a wrong answer resulting in the device being "frozen" until such time as you’re willing to actually pay attention.
UPGRADE TO NEW ATLAS PLUS
More than 1,200 New Atlas Plus subscribers directly support our journalism, and get access to our premium ad-free site and email newsletter. Join them for just US$19 a year.UPGRADE
It gets worse. Since any such system will be embedded into the core of the product, an advert may appear at any time. There’s also talk of a penalty scheme that judges your receptiveness to viewing the adverts by making subsequent tests more difficult if you fail to perform adequately first time around. Typical actions requested might, according to the patent, involve "causing presentation of a page from an advertiser associated with the advertisement; recording a user rating of the advertisement; again presenting the advertisement; sharing the advertisement with another user; initiating a transaction for user purchase of a product that eliminates the presentation of advertisements on the device."
The only real upside to this intrusive new approach is that devices are likely to be offered with substantial discounts (or even free) to help outweigh this obvious inconvenience, though we can’t imagine that this will be enough to persuade the masses. It’s also been mentioned that those who find the process too annoying to live will could pay to have the ads removed, either temporarily or permanently.
Apple has been rather quiet about the patent thus far, though it does seem as though Steve Jobs was fully aware, being the first name on the list of provided inventors.
Of course it’s only a patent application and may never see the light of day, but we’d be very surprised if this sort of thing would ever be welcomed by consumers at a volume that would end up making the company money, never mind the damage it may do to its reputation.