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Apple may turn iPods, iPhones into wireless iTunes remotes

post #1 of 32
Thread Starter 
Apple Inc. has been working on technology that would allow both iPods and iPhones to act as wireless remote controls, channeling the flow of digital media files from computer-based iTunes libraries to home entertainment systems by way of digital media hubs like Apple TV, a recent patent filing has revealed.

In outlining its cause, the electronics maker explains that while the quality of multimedia playback by computers has improved dramatically in the last several years, the systems still lag behind typical entertainment devices -- such as stereos, televisions, projection systems, etc. -- in terms of performance, fidelity, and usability for the typical consumer.

"Therefore, in order to utilize the higher quality playback systems, it has become common to install home network systems whereby an individual's personal computer is linked (either wirelessly or wired) to a home entertainment system forming in the process a media system," the company wrote. "Unfortunately, however, in order to control certain aspects of the playback of the multimedia data (such as changing a song, an entire playlist, or even controlling volume) a listener wishing to make such changes must be in physical contact with the personal computer in which the multimedia data being played is stored."

For example, Apple continued, if a listener is in a living room listening to music being streamed to a living room based stereo by a computer wirelessly linked thereto located in an upstairs den, changing the song being played would require the listener to physically walk to the upstairs den where the computer was located and select the desired song.

"Therefore," the company said, "what is desired is a system that leverages existing devices (such as an iPod, AirPort Express, a Mac running iTunes) to provide the remote access and control that would otherwise require the purchase of specialized equipment such as zone controller units and zone players."

For this purpose, Apple identifies a portable multimedia player -- such as the iPod -- to wirelessly access and control a media server (such as a personal computer running iTunes software) that is streaming digital media by way of a wireless interface to a media unit (such as a stereo/speakers in the case of streaming digital audio).



"The method is performed by binding the portable multimedia player and the media server, wirelessly transmitting a signal from the multimedia player to the media server, and streaming the digital media data from the media server to a media unit by way of a wireless interface using the received signal," the filing states.

Alternatively, the filing continues, a portable digital multimedia player remote controller unit could be arranged to store multimedia media file metadata used to wirelessly control a remote media server. Under this method, the remote controller unit would include a wireless network interface, a display device arranged to display a user interface having a number of user selectable items, and a processor unit that in response to a user selection of one of the user selectable items would generate a signal that is wirelessly sent by the wireless network interface to the remote media server.

"The signal including multimedia file meta data identifying a multimedia file stored on the media server that, in turn, responds to the signals by accessing the identified multimedia file and once accessed, wirelessly sends the identified multimedia file to a remote media unit," Apple explained.



Still yet, the company added, a third method of remote control could be carried out by wirelessly receiving at the personal computer a multimedia file indication from the multimedia player, identifying a multimedia file stored on the personal computer using the received multimedia file indication, accessing the identified multimedia file; and wirelessly sending the identified multimedia file from the personal computer to the remote media unit.

Originally submitted to the United States Patent and Trademark office on December 20, 2005, the filing is credited to Apple employees Steve Ko and Stephen Lemay.
post #2 of 32
Isn't Salling clicker doing roughly the same thing with phones and PDAs?
post #3 of 32
With Leopard and back to my mac, I can see the possibilities.

Not only could you stream your music to your friends stereo, but, you could also control your apple TV and thus the Apple TV becomes the home media server.

I would also love the ability to access my music and other media from my laptop when traveling thus leaving my tunes and video safely at home on my server.

Brilliant.

Now, all we need to do is to be able to download content to the Apple TV from the ITMS.
post #4 of 32
This is exactly what I've been wishing Apple would eventually do...

Here is what I'd need...

- Speakers in multiple rooms of the house & outside
- Cool remote control that enables REAL browsing / searching of the music collection.
- iTunes (WITH MULTI ZONE SUPPORT!)

Systems like this exist... but they suffer from one or more downfalls including them being enormously expensive and usually a poorly executed interface. Apple could OWN the multi-zone music market and even bring it down to a price where the average home owner might actually consider implementing it.

I'd buy 'music remotes' for AT LEAST 5 rooms if they were fairly priced... $299 or less. and given their basic hardware requirements I think Apple could EASILY do it.

Same specs as iPhone:

- CPU (same as iPhone)
- WIFI (same as iPhone)
- SCREEN (same as iPhone)

Lower specs then the iPhone:

- FLASH (less than iPhone - no need to store local at all... Everything would be accessed via wifi)
- BATTERY (less than iPhone since the remote will almost always be sitting in it's charger)

What it wouldn't need:

- GSM RADIO & ANTENNA
- SIM SLOT
- ANY SUPPORT CHIPS for cellular

Given the lesser requirements (as compared to the iPhone) I could easielly see this selling for $299 or maybe even less... and it wouldn't cannibalize iPhone *or* iPod sales...

Bring it on Apple!

Dave
Apple Fanboy: Anyone who started liking Apple before I did!
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Apple Fanboy: Anyone who started liking Apple before I did!
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post #5 of 32
The remote buddy for iPhone stuff looks pretty good.
post #6 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by DaveGee View Post

This is exactly what I've been wishing Apple would eventually do...

Here is what I'd need...

- Speakers in multiple rooms of the house & outside
- Cool remote control that enables REAL browsing / searching of the music collection.
- iTunes (WITH MULTI ZONE SUPPORT!)

Systems like this exist... but they suffer from one or more downfalls including them being enormously expensive and usually a poorly executed interface. Apple could OWN the multi-zone music market and even bring it down to a price where the average home owner might actually consider implementing it.

I'd buy 'music remotes' for AT LEAST 5 rooms if they were fairly priced... $299 or less. and given their basic hardware requirements I think Apple could EASILY do it.

Same specs as iPhone:

- CPU (same as iPhone)
- WIFI (same as iPhone)
- SCREEN (same as iPhone)

Lower specs then the iPhone:

- FLASH (less than iPhone - no need to store local at all... Everything would be accessed via wifi)
- BATTERY (less than iPhone since the remote will almost always be sitting in it's charger)

What it wouldn't need:

- GSM RADIO & ANTENNA
- SIM SLOT
- ANY SUPPORT CHIPS for cellular

Given the lesser requirements (as compared to the iPhone) I could easielly see this selling for $299 or maybe even less... and it wouldn't cannibalize iPhone *or* iPod sales...

Bring it on Apple!

Dave

Umm I think it's fairly obvious that this will find its way into the iPhone rather than being a new separate product.
post #7 of 32
Just use Telekinesis as your Apple Remote over Wi-FI until then.

http://code.google.com/p/telekinesis/
post #8 of 32
I used to be a fan of Bose (901's, 802's, etc.) and they still come out with some pretty cool stuff. One year ago I finally sat down and watched their home media demonstration.

The problem with Bose is their "scientific research" BS front, their hi-pressure demonstration & purchase sale technique, and their amazingly hi prices. I remember they even came to one of my college classes to demonstrate and sell their Wave-radio-CD player, again with hi-pressure sales ending.

Apple's approach is much more subtle and inventive and pervasive, but is taking longer.

First, everyone gets itunes and loves it. Then everyone gets ipods and loves em. THen everyone can walk into Apple stores and loves em. Then everyone will get Apple TV. Then everyone will get iphones and ipods to control computer, itunes, Apple TV, etc.

Although I will always keep up with the latest powerful Mac to run my studio, I'm waiting on a full media center computer-thing until it fully replaces the stuff I already have with the same or better quality. I want streaming media with immediate access, hi definition, full surround support, full remote support, etc.

I know Apple will do it and I hope they succeed in taking over everyone's computing/media needs. It's just too bad advances are slowed down by the corrupt and complicated patent system which keeps any company from combining existing technology to quickly release ground-breaking products. Even after well-researched, companies like Apple constantly deal with patent lawsuits and such.

Still though, I watch with much anticipation and excitment with Apple's secretly-guarded master plan of functional electronic techy-bliss!
post #9 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by DaveGee View Post

This is exactly what I've been wishing Apple would eventually do...

- FLASH (less than iPhone - no need to store local at all... Everything would be accessed via wifi)
- BATTERY (less than iPhone since the remote will almost always be sitting in it's charger)

Dave

this is exactly what I'm after also - I thought the Sonos was too expansive and already have a mac mini waiting for this type of device to come along. I would disagree with you slightly on the cheaper device - It would be good to have a certain amount of memory in it to store album artwork for cover flow. It would be a real pain to have to sync every time I need to find an album as I have over 100gb of music.

M
post #10 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sopphode View Post

Umm I think it's fairly obvious that this will find its way into the iPhone rather than being a new separate product.

obvious to who ?
post #11 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sopphode View Post

Umm I think it's fairly obvious that this will find its way into the iPhone rather than being a new separate product.

So I'd be forced into buying FIVE OR SIX iPhones and ACTIVATING them ALL just to have audio remotes in all of the locations I'd want them in?

- Family Room
- Living/Dining Room
- Kitchen/Great Room
- Master Bedroom
- Guest Bedroom

That seems totally LUDICROUS to me!

Is that REALLY what you would suggest would happen?!?! Even WITH a family plan I'd be paying upwards of $120 in additional handset fees ON TOP OF the $80 initial family plan fee... $200+ PER MONTH.... Yea but I don't think so... and since the patent clearly names BOTH the iPhone **and** the iPod it would certainly NOT be an iPhone only feature...

Dave
Apple Fanboy: Anyone who started liking Apple before I did!
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Apple Fanboy: Anyone who started liking Apple before I did!
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post #12 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by VF208 View Post

this is exactly what I'm after also - I thought the Sonos was too expansive and already have a mac mini waiting for this type of device to come along. I would disagree with you slightly on the cheaper device - It would be good to have a certain amount of memory in it to store album artwork for cover flow. It would be a real pain to have to sync every time I need to find an album as I have over 100gb of music.

M

Good point on the storage... tho... over wifi it shouldn't be bad getting cover-art on the fly (or even pre-fetching 5 or so covers in BOTH directions based on what album you are currently viewing... I'm talking about cover-flow here. Just bringing up a cover on its own could certainly be done on the fly.

And yea I almost jumped at the Sonos but after reading the user forums and the issues people were having with the LCD remote controls (locking up or hanging IIRC) and their price turned me off of them pretty quick.

Dave
Apple Fanboy: Anyone who started liking Apple before I did!
Reply
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post #13 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by DaveGee View Post

So I'd be forced into buying FIVE OR SIX iPhones and ACTIVATING them ALL just to have audio remotes in all of the locations I'd want them in?

- Family Room
- Living/Dining Room
- Kitchen/Great Room
- Master Bedroom
- Guest Bedroom

That seems totally LUDICROUS to me!

Is that REALLY what you would suggest would happen?!?! Even WITH a family plan I'd be paying upwards of $120 in additional handset fees ON TOP OF the $80 initial family plan fee... $200+ PER MONTH.... Yea but I don't think so... and since the patent clearly names BOTH the iPhone **and** the iPod it would certainly NOT be an iPhone only feature...

Dave


Yeah, but you wouldn't have to carry the iphone from one room to the other!
post #14 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by DaveGee View Post

So I'd be forced into buying FIVE OR SIX iPhones and ACTIVATING them ALL just to have audio remotes in all of the locations I'd want them in?
Dave

He he - I can just imagine the following conversation with my wife whilst at work "Hi darling how's work? Erm I fancied putting a bit Coldplay on - any idea where the remote is?"

"Yes darling - you've just called me on it!!"
post #15 of 32
otherwise require the purchase of specialized equipment such as zone controller units and zone players.

(emphasis mine). That's an interesting choice of terms, given that those are the names of the components of a Sonos system.

I have a Sonos setup at home. It's expensive, and has its own share of flaws, but is a great way to listen to music. I'd love to see a remote with cover flow, like what a (next gen) iPod might provide.
post #16 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by TednDi View Post

Now, all we need to do is to be able to download content to the Apple TV from the ITMS.

Or somehow use your iPhone/iPod to download ITMS content to your computer, then stream it to your Apple TV. Now that's remote control.
post #17 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by DaveGee View Post

This is exactly what I've been wishing Apple would eventually do...

Here is what I'd need...

- Speakers in multiple rooms of the house & outside
- Cool remote control that enables REAL browsing / searching of the music collection.
- iTunes (WITH MULTI ZONE SUPPORT!)

Systems like this exist... but they suffer from one or more downfalls including them being enormously expensive and usually a poorly executed interface. Apple could OWN the multi-zone music market and even bring it down to a price where the average home owner might actually consider implementing it.

I'd buy 'music remotes' for AT LEAST 5 rooms if they were fairly priced... $299 or less. and given their basic hardware requirements I think Apple could EASILY do it.

Same specs as iPhone:

- CPU (same as iPhone)
- WIFI (same as iPhone)
- SCREEN (same as iPhone)

Lower specs then the iPhone:

- FLASH (less than iPhone - no need to store local at all... Everything would be accessed via wifi)
- BATTERY (less than iPhone since the remote will almost always be sitting in it's charger)

What it wouldn't need:

- GSM RADIO & ANTENNA
- SIM SLOT
- ANY SUPPORT CHIPS for cellular

Given the lesser requirements (as compared to the iPhone) I could easielly see this selling for $299 or maybe even less... and it wouldn't cannibalize iPhone *or* iPod sales...

Bring it on Apple!

Dave

If we're going to list what the system really needs....

BATTERY (User replaceble - maybe they could even break down and use something standard like AA's - I don't want to spend $80 AND lose the use of my remote for 3 days just for this)

AppleTV capable of 1080p output
AppleTV capable of 5.1/7.1 surround output (without jumping through hoops)
a universal (i.e., not Apple-exclusive) DRM system for purchased media so that when Apple decides the home media market isn't profitable I could go buy someone else's device and continue to enjoy my media
1080p video/5.1 audio downloads from the iTunes Store (having just bought a Blu-Ray player and watching a few movies in 1080p, I can say that even a bump to 720p would be disappointing and really isn't Apple supposed to set the bar high?)
AppleTV and/or Macs with Blu-Ray drives and Apple to push for the completion of the Mandatory Managed Copy Blu-Ray specification so HD movies could legally and easily be copied to the media server.
AppleTV/iTunes with better video management skills (the Movies category is just one big lump...no way to browse for genres, actors, etc. and quit mixing music videos with songs or at least give me the option to not have them mixed).

I understand your post was more directed at music, but the patent is about a media center not just music. Do I expect Apple to release anything similar to my wishes anytime soon? Considering how they "upgraded" the AppleTV to browse YouTube's 320x240 videos, the answer is a resounding "No." Right now, all Apple is offering is convenience at the expense of quality...funny, because everything I've read says Apple is capable of doing both...
post #18 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by DaveGee View Post

So I'd be forced into buying FIVE OR SIX iPhones and ACTIVATING them ALL just to have audio remotes in all of the locations I'd want them in?

- Family Room
- Living/Dining Room
- Kitchen/Great Room
- Master Bedroom
- Guest Bedroom

That seems totally LUDICROUS to me!

Is that REALLY what you would suggest would happen?!?! Even WITH a family plan I'd be paying upwards of $120 in additional handset fees ON TOP OF the $80 initial family plan fee... $200+ PER MONTH.... Yea but I don't think so... and since the patent clearly names BOTH the iPhone **and** the iPod it would certainly NOT be an iPhone only feature...

Dave

Yes, it is ludicrous. I don't think that's what he meant.

It seems clear that Apple is not going to come out with dedicated remotes, which is what you're talking about.*

Apple will just add WiFi to iPods (and maybe even iPod nanos with larger screens), and then you can use your iPod or iPhone or iPod nano or iPhone nano(?!)** to control the speakers in whatever room you're in.

Why would you have a remote in each room? That makes no sense. Your iPhone/iPod would converse with whatever system is in the current room.

So each person would have their own iPod or iPhone and/or you could have one extra nano as a general-purpose remote for those wankers that don't have an iPod or iPhone.

[Edited to add footnotes]:

* - I mean, look at the title of this thread, for heaven's sake.

** - Like this.
post #19 of 32
seems to me the most logical solution for this (and one that would provide many more possibilities) is for the iphone or the next wifi widescreen ipod be capable of showing the desktop of the computer containing your media, and being able to control this computer via iphone touchscreen, i have been thinking about this options for some time and think it would be awesome, thought?
post #20 of 32
what apple really needs is to open the phone or future video iPod to 3rd party developers. there is absolutely no way that they are going to be able to satisfy all people with a single application. Apple does a good job of making single user / single zone media apps, but they have no historical expertise in the more traditional multi-zone systems. they also don't have historical expertise in mobile phones either, but they did a relatively decent job with their 1.0 effort, so i'm definitely not counting them out of the picture.
post #21 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by tcbritt View Post

seems to me the most logical solution for this (and one that would provide many more possibilities) is for the iphone or the next wifi widescreen ipod be capable of showing the desktop of the computer containing your media, and being able to control this computer via iphone touchscreen, i have been thinking about this options for some time and think it would be awesome, thought?

You can do that already on any phone that supports VNC including in a roundabout way the iPhone. Seems like overkill to me though. It just needs a remote iTunes controller that works over Bonjour and wifi. These are ten a penny for controlling iTunes from another Mac already.

The other way would be via Safari on the iPhone. Browse to a web application running on your local Mac and interface with iTunes with Applescript.

As a side point, when are we getting a new Airport Express???? Mine went pop a month or so back and I miss it but I'm not buying another till the add 802.11n
post #22 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by fabster View Post

Isn't Salling clicker doing roughly the same thing with phones and PDAs?

Yes, but with bluetooth so the chances of it working more than ten feet away are slim.
post #23 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by fabster View Post

Isn't Salling clicker doing roughly the same thing with phones and PDAs?

Yes, and the only apparent difference is that the (non-existant) wireless iPod and the iPhone are closed development platforms ... otherwise someone would've already done it (as they already have for other devices).

This is just the week of Apple applying for and getting patents for things that have already been invented years ago (at least as far as AppleInsider news goes). Is it just me or has Apple really started to reek of corporate greed over the past 6 months?
post #24 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

Apple Inc. has been working on technology that would allow both iPods and iPhones to act as wireless remote controls...

It's not so much a remote control, as it is putting a fully functional iTunes on the iPhone/iPod. This lets an iPhone user:

(a) browse shared iTunes libraries
(b) share his mobile library with other iTunes users
(c) send sound to a remote airtunes device

Furthermore, iTunes + AppleTV may be enhanced so movies may be sent to a remote AppleTV, turning the AppleTV into an "A/V Airtunes".
post #25 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by bubba451 View Post

otherwise require the purchase of specialized equipment such as zone controller units and zone players.

(emphasis mine). That's an interesting choice of terms, given that those are the names of the components of a Sonos system.

I have a Sonos setup at home. It's expensive, and has its own share of flaws, but is a great way to listen to music. I'd love to see a remote with cover flow, like what a (next gen) iPod might provide.

As a Sonos owner as well, I thought the same thing when reading this. The only issues I've had with my Sonos/iTunes implementation were actually issues with how iTunes stores it's Music Library xml file on my NAS, not the Sonos itself. Also, I'd like Sonos to start playing Podcasts where I left off in iTunes rather than at the beginning, but I knew that was out going in.

I love my Sonos system, and if Apple can replicate it's ease of use and rock-solid stability (YMMV) then they'd have a winner on their hands. Add video distribution and it sweetens the pot. I doubt that Apple would implement a lot of the items Sonos has though...Rhapsody and Pandora via the controller and I'm sure FLAC is out...the splash resistant controller is handy in the kitchen - although the screen is lacking now that I have my iPhone .
post #26 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by grifmx View Post

I used to be a fan of Bose (901's, 802's, etc.) and they still come out with some pretty cool stuff. One year ago I finally sat down and watched their home media demonstration.

The problem with Bose is their "scientific research" BS front, their hi-pressure demonstration & purchase sale technique, and their amazingly hi prices.

Also, their incredibly low fidelity.
post #27 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by tsvisser View Post

what apple really needs is to open the phone or future video iPod to 3rd party developers. there is absolutely no way that they are going to be able to satisfy all people with a single application. Apple does a good job of making single user / single zone media apps, but they have no historical expertise in the more traditional multi-zone systems. they also don't have historical expertise in mobile phones either, but they did a relatively decent job with their 1.0 effort, so i'm definitely not counting them out of the picture.

That, and IR.
post #28 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by melgross View Post

That, and IR.

could easily be done with something like what the Pronto is using with its new ethernet capable touchscreen remote or 3rd party products like Global Cache... with ethernet to RS-232 and IR bridges. if you look at the remotecentral website, there must be around 30,000+ IR drivers for the different consumer electronic devices out there. the problem with dealing with the home remote controls, is that the CE devices can be so flaky... getting all the devices to work together can be a challenge and the support infrastructure required can be daunting. why do you think the Apple TV remote only has Apple commands on it and not the ability to control other manufacturer's TVs? even if they had perfect programmable remote control capabilities, the number of calls they would get with people complaining to them about non-Apple products (their philips and sanyo TVs), is probably more than they want to get into right now.
post #29 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by tsvisser View Post

could easily be done with something like what the Pronto is using with its new ethernet capable touchscreen remote or 3rd party products like Global Cache... with ethernet to RS-232 and IR bridges. if you look at the remotecentral website, there must be around 30,000+ IR drivers for the different consumer electronic devices out there. the problem with dealing with the home remote controls, is that the CE devices can be so flaky... getting all the devices to work together can be a challenge and the support infrastructure required can be daunting. why do you think the Apple TV remote only has Apple commands on it and not the ability to control other manufacturer's TVs? even if they had perfect programmable remote control capabilities, the number of calls they would get with people complaining to them about non-Apple products (their philips and sanyo TVs), is probably more than they want to get into right now.

While I haven't used one, there are several remote software programs available for my Treo. It's the IR that makes it easy. WiFi is nice, but it then REQUIRES the computer network.
post #30 of 32
Yeah, Salling Clicker is great. You can control more than just music. Romeo works pretty good too.
Quote:
Originally Posted by fabster View Post

Isn't Salling clicker doing roughly the same thing with phones and PDAs?

Oh yeah, for the guy who thinks Salling Clicker only works over BT is wrong. They've added WiFi support.

"Salling Clicker works wirelessly over both Bluetooth and WiFi. Either way, it's a matter of simply selecting the computer to control. If you own a Symbian or Windows Mobile device, we think you're really going to like how Salling Clicker 3.5 automatically finds all computers running Salling Clicker on your network: just select to connect."
post #31 of 32
I was thinking man, I wish my universal remote had the same UI as the iPhone. Maybe I won't be disappointed yet!
post #32 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by aegisdesign View Post

You can do that already on any phone that supports VNC including in a roundabout way the iPhone. Seems like overkill to me though. It just needs a remote iTunes controller that works over Bonjour and wifi. These are ten a penny for controlling iTunes from another Mac already.

The other way would be via Safari on the iPhone. Browse to a web application running on your local Mac and interface with iTunes with Applescript.

As a side point, when are we getting a new Airport Express???? Mine went pop a month or so back and I miss it but I'm not buying another till the add 802.11n



Whoa...whoa... hold on! Having full iTunes funtionality (including searches) and mirrored appearence on a iPhone would be the holy grail for me. You seem to speak of it as something that's common knowledge.

Can you help a brother out and spell it out for me? (I don't think I'm dumb, just a little under-educated in this topic...)

Thanks!
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