Apple Patents Putting Ads Into the OS

The concept of advertising-supported services are nothing new. Magazines that you buy and television shows that you watch are largely subsidized by advertising. Even the web publication that you're reading now is supported largely through advertising (thanks our wonderful sales team who leaves editorial completely independent).

But what about ad-supported software? That's also nothing new, as some of the free software we use today on our computers feature ads in some form. Apple could be exploring uncharted territory with an ad-supported operating system.

In a patent originally submitted last year, Apple details a system where ads are presented to the user of the operating system. Unlike ad-supported applications, the ads are pervasive throughout the OS. The end result could end up being the ultimate nag ware, but the tradeoff is an OS that's at a reduced cost or completely free.

The abstract reads:

Among other disclosures, an operating system presents one or more advertisements to a user and disables one or more functions while the advertisement is being presented. At the end of the advertisement, the operating system again enables the function(s). The advertisement can be visual or audible. The presentation of the advertisement(s) can be made as part of an approach where the user obtains a good or service, such as the operating system, for free or at reduced cost.

Macnn has some diagrams that show that it may be possible for users to control when the ads display, along with the option to delay them. Crafty hackers would probably find a way to disable ads altogether, but such an ad-supported system could lead to more affordable public internet terminals and kiosks.

Marcus Yam
Marcus Yam served as Tom's Hardware News Director during 2008-2014. He entered tech media in the late 90s and fondly remembers the days when an overclocked Celeron 300A and Voodoo2 SLI comprised a gaming rig with the ultimate street cred.
  • magicandy
    As if I need another reason to keep not buying their OS...
  • dlux
    Good Lord, it's bad enough that every website on the internet is basically flooded with ads on the top, bottom, sides, pop ups, pop outs, and whatever else they use on the page, but now they want me to see ads before I'm bombarded with them?

    Where does this end? Sorry but no thanks, I'd pay full price for an OS before this ridiculousness.
  • dlux
    p.s. (obligatory) Apple sux lolololol
  • hixbot
    Well, if they hold a patent for such a nuisance, perhaps that will deter other Operating Systems from following suit.
  • cyberkuberiah
    ubuntu anyone ? pure computing ! it runs Godspeed on my pentium 4 2.4 ghz , 512 ddr1 333 ram and 80 gb sata hdd and compiz fuzion on an old nvidia 6600 agp 4x. no ads , no viruses , i use it for online banking exclusivel y . but yes i took a while to get used to linux environment !
  • dedhorse
    Awesome, Apple rules. Cause our lives aren't filled with enough annoying morons trying to sell us crap, lets pile on more.

    "...but such an ad-supported system could lead to more affordable public internet terminals and kiosks."

    Lol, cause there are no free OS's today, right? L.I.N.U... Someone finish the rest, I'm tired.
  • falconqc
    Apple is the devil.

    You will first need to pay the apple tax to get their hardware, just to have the privilege of having your computer show you ads. Good luck with that.

    Good thing they patented it, wouldn't want others getting a hold of your ridiculous idea.
  • Honis
    I do not believe Apple will ever put ads in their OS. This will probably go in the vault to be pulled out later to troll any competing OS that tries to support itself with ads. In other words, some guy on the patent team looked at the obvious and sent in a patent to see if it would be accepted.
  • "could lead to more affordable public internet terminals and kiosks"

  • gekko668
    If apple does that I can see their stocks plummeting immediately.