The Apple Social Network
Apple don’t really get the internet. It’s been shown by how terrible Ping was. The seemingly still going iTunes component that let you share what you were listening to with others. This didn’t really work out as people don’t really like sharing what they’ve just bought or listening to as it’s probably Abba or something else along those lines. No one needs to know.
But Apple still has a problem with many its services; No one knows if their friends are on it! The problem usually arises if you have an iPad and you want to iMessage someone. The problem is you must have the other person’s email address attached to their contact details. Even if you have their email you have no idea if they have iMessage enabled. The same problem also rears its head with FaceTime and Game Center.
So what can Apple do to solve this? In my opinion it needs to create some way of people having an iCloud profile that you can search for your friends. Now being Apple it would have to be highly controlled. I imagine that everything would be locked except for your name and maybe a profile picture. Maybe even knows if you have contacts in common to make sure you’re adding the right Jonny Appleseed.
You could then request to be iCloud buddies and the person receiving the request can decide what to share. Say your best friends, then mobile, home email address, permission for Find My Friends, Game Center, maybe even published iPhoto journals. Say it was a work colleague who you don’t want to have all that information, then you could just give access to your work email address. It would be very basic and just and online contact listing. It would not be mined by Google and you can only search if you’re signed up for iCloud.
It could even be an app included in iOS 6 with no real online presence. It would just sync contact details and allow you to find others. Sure it would have to be super secure to try to avoid hacking in some way but I could see it happening. Would you want to have some way to find your fellow iPhone and iPad friends?