Before you get upset, this is for your own safety.
Apple isn't a company normally associated with the auto industry, but it has been making moves. There were rumors that the company would buy Tesla last year, and although this looks highly unlikely now, Apple is still innovating and diversifying. The company now has partnered with BMW to make it possible for you to unlock your 5 Series via your iPhone. Apple is also looking at building its own car, although that project has been fraught with issues. While the company decides what to do in that regard, it has been exploring other avenues of entering the auto industry, and one is through a new patent that aims to improve vehicle safety.
The patent, discovered by Roadshow, was filed in August of this year and was published last week. What Apple is has developed is a system that uses electrical current to detect the presence of cracks or other imperfections in windshield glass. This is possible thanks to a conductive film that lies between layers of glass. To relay the signal from this film, "terminals formed from elongated strips of metal may be coupled to the edges of one or more of the conductive layers in the window." Okay, fair enough. But what's the point? Surely people can see a crack in their own windshield?
Well, besides the fact that this system could have the ability to detect a fracture before it becomes a problem, it's also a healthy reminder. Many people will put off repairing a windshield until they have no other choice. The explanation of this tech goes on to sat that "control circuitry may send an email message or other message to a user that informs the user of the detected crack." This would give the vehicle owner an opportunity to inspect the glass for any tiny imperfections, but the system could do even more. "Vehicle may also schedule the service appointment automatically without intervention by the user or following a brief confirmation from the user."
Obviously, this kind of thing is doubtless going to make a windshield more expensive to replace, but you can rest assured in the knowledge that it's still a long way from production.