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(Pocket-lint) - Hey, public-transit commuters: it looks like Apple hasn't completely forgotten about you.

Apple recently filed a patent application for something called "User Interface Tools for Commute Assistant". The patent outlines a public transit software feature that would allow you to get directions via public transit whether you're traveling in a city or region or between cities.

The feature, which would presumably be for Apple Maps, offers tools like a "commute assistant" and would allow you to choose from a variety of routes in order to reach a destination. You'll also see estimated arrival times, statuses for stations and stops, automatic updates, and more.

It's obvious that Apple Maps has come a long way since its not-so-well-received launch in 2012, though the app still doesn't have a public transit feature, which would include traveling options for people who prefer buses, trains, and subways. Google Maps has long-offered such a feature.

Apple's new patent application is proof that the company realises there are plenty of people who don't use cars but would still like to rely on Apple Maps. Unfortunately, however, a patent is just a patent. It doesn't guarantee that the detailed software feature will one day come to fruition.

The patent also doesn't specify that the feature is intended for Apple Maps. It only outlines a user interface. Still, it's a good sign that Apple has dreamed up a public transportation interface and then took steps to protect it.

So, go ahead and keep your fingers crossed.

Writing by Elyse Betters.