Apple's plans to introduce an all-new faster method of connecting one electronic device, such as an iPhone, with another device have been revealed by a new patent.

In a patent application published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, several Apple engineers look to developing a new way for electronic devices to become “aware” of the presence of other electronic devices. According to Patently Apple, this new method is faster and is easier to use, and might replace AirDrop altogether.

“Device awareness,” as the patent puts it, is defined as an electronic device's ability to discover, map and track other electronic devices within a certain radius in real time. When discovering or identifying other devices, specific information such as device identifiers, hash keys and supported protocols may be shared with other devices so they can be verified.

Once devices are discovered and verified, users will then be able to engage in further data exchange with the other device. This data exchange, as most people know it, often takes in the form of sending and receiving files via AirDrop, or sending to and receiving audio signals from wireless electronic equipment like true wireless stereo headphones.

Previous device discovery methods, such as using Bluetooth Low Energy handshake (or just Bluetooth to the average person), were successful in identifying, verifying and connecting. Most of the time however, these protocols needed about at least 15 seconds to finish the task. This is due to slow discovery times, as well as slow response times.

Apple's new invention, which involves the use of optical sensors to detect devices within “line of sight,” is seen to significantly reduce the amount of time needed to identify, verify and connect with other electronic devices. Here's how the invention works:

The Apple engineers said the device, such as a future iPhone for instance, will have a few sensors that will allow it to become “optically aware” of other devices within its “line of sight” (or where it is being pointed).

The iPhone will have a motion sensor that will determine its posing while looking for devices, and will keep track of movements while the device is optically connected to another device. This will also allow the device to map the location of the other device. If the user's device is pointed somewhere else, the connection is broken; if the device is pointed to the other device again, they become reconnected.

Although interesting, the invention remains a patent at the moment. It's unclear as to when such a feature, or a device with the feature, will be released.

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a person holding a smartphone Daria Shevtsova/