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Google patents apps that help split restaurant bills

Splitting the bill at the end of a group dinner seems like the kind of hassle technology should've already solved by now. But Google believes it's better late than never, and has filed a patent application for programs that "manage payments by members of a group," GeekWire reports.

The patent was filed in March 2012 and made public last week. It envisions a system where one member of a group pays the entire bill while keeping track of what the others owe through this theoretical Google app.

"Some group members may not pay back their entire share of the bill or may forget and not pay back their share at all. This is unfair for the group member that paid the bill," the patent sympathetically states before offering its "efficient" software solution.

Google also pictures the service being used across a "plurality of payment transactions" involving a "plurality of users." Depending on how generous they are, friends in the same system may be allowed to rack up a decent amount of debt before coughing up what they owe. And because the app constantly keeps tabs on everyone's balances, there would hopefully be fewer arguments over who owes how much during what Google calls a "settling event."

The listing itself features longer, more technical descriptions for anyone interested. There's also a series of diagrams showing each step of the payment processes in more easily understandable pictures.

Google might soon have the lock on bill-splitting technology, but other companies are experimenting with similar concepts. In June, app-based car service Uber added support for fare-splitting.

Image: Flickr (colinjcampbell)