A new Apple patent has revealed an iOS-based social networking service which uses users' on-device content and location data to automatically find friends.

Well, we say friends. We mean "new friends", aka total strangers; you'll be able to set the app to find compatible 'buddies' near your current location, making it sound like a kind of dating app to us.

The patent application describes it as "ad hoc networking based on content and location", with the ability to match people up based on music they listen to on the iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad, as well as videos, pictures and websites they've recently visited and shared, rather than a public-facing profile that you physically set up, a la Facebook.

Location, location, location

As well as content data, the app would use location information to suggest matches; not just where you currently are, say Starbucks, but also where you've been recently, like Bognor Regis. Or Slough.

This information could be used to populate the "Now what shall we talk about…" option, although the prospect of a stranger wandering up to you and asking how your holiday to Timbuktu was is more than a little scary.

The whole app is no doubt setting off privacy sirens in web-phobic establishments around the world, but rest assured it proposes that you set your own privacy preferences during set up, and there's an option to turn make your personal profile undiscoverable.

The patent bites its thumb at Facebook which is still licking its wounds over Apple's decision to integrate Twitter into iOS 5 rather than Zuckerberg's baby.

Facebook's not at home dying its hair black and listening to The Smiths though; with an iPad app apparently round the corner and an App Store rival apparently in the works, there could be quite a tech battle coming up.

Via Patently Apple