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Apple TV DVR interface revealed in patent filings

post #1 of 114
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A series of Apple patent filings published this week reveal a version of the Apple TV media device capable of browsing and recording live television programming in addition to serving up pre-aired content from the company's iTunes Store.

Originally filed back in October of 2006, the filings clearly show considerable work on the part of the electronics maker to create an alternative to products like the TiVo digital video recorder (DVR), complete with a searchable on-screen guide and configurable touch-based remote control device that would serve as a portable program guide.

The remote, similar in appearance to second-generation iPod nano, would include an LCD display, storage component, and touch-based navigation pad that would allow users to download several weeks of programming information from the Apple TV media device onto the remote interface for later interaction.

"For example, program data for upcoming programs, e.g., for the next month, can be downloaded and stored on the remote control device," Apple said. "Thereafter, a user of the remote control device can search programs that are to be broadcast and determine which programs to record. The recording settings can be programmed onto the remote control device, and then be provided to the video device when a data communication is established between the remote control device and the video device."

(Note: it would seem logical that this functionality could also be integrated directly into the iPhone or iPod touch.)

In real world instances, this would allow users to pre-load the remote with the following month's scheduled television programming, pack the remote with their belongings, and then while on "a commute on a train," for instance, use the remote to determine what programs to record.

"Thus, when the user arrives home, the user can place the remote control device within the vicinity of the video device or within the docking port, and the recording data is downloaded into the video device," the company explained. "Thereafter the specified programs are recorded."



Although shown in Apple's filings as comprising a circular navigation surface below the LCD screen, another implementation of the advanced remote could include a "rectangular surface, a square surface, or some other shaped surface," Apple said. "Other surface geometries that accommodate pressure sensitive areas and that can sense touch actuations may also be used, e.g., an oblong area, an octagon area, etc."



Meanwhile, the Apple TV device itself would feature a more advanced form of an on-screen programming guide akin to those found on today's digital cable boxes or TiVO DVR records. In addition to a standard guide that takes up the entire screen, Apple illustrates several "overlay" interfaces that consume less real estate, such as a horizontal "recording navigation menu" that could float atop of ongoing video content, offering a list of recorded content and allowing the user to preview those recordings in a small widget dialog while live programming transmissions are ongoing.



Several other overlay interface components are also apparent from the filings, including a Mac OS Dock-like interface that would rise from the bottom of the screen and include icons for recording shows, searching programming, and so forth.

"In one implementation, the icons include a home icon, a recordings navigation icon, a channels navigation icon, a browse navigation icon, and a search navigation icon," Apple said. "Additionally, one or more context-dependent icons may also be generated within the menu overlay. For example, a record icon can be generated in the received context to allow a user to record video data that is presently being received. In one implementation, the menu overlay may also delimit context-dependent icons. For example, a bar delimits the record icon from the navigation icons."



Such as the case with Mac OS Dock, highlighting an icon would be indicated by enlarging the size of the icon and generating a textual description atop the enlarged icon. By using the navigational component of the advanced Apple remote, a user could select the delete icon to delete from memory the recorded program currently being displayed in the video environment. Users could also shrink, zoom or resize video being displayed in the video environment. In instances of shrunken content, a "reflection of the video environment may be shown in the space" also occupied by the Dock-like control interface.



Selecting the "channel" icon from the Dock would produce a narrow, vertical overlay that lists all pre-recorded content or live content, within which the user could preview clips of those while live broadcasts or pre-recorded content while video continues to run in the full-screen environment.

"In one implementation, the video preview is generated after the channel menu item remains highlighted for a period of time, e.g., several seconds. In another implementation, the video preview is generated after the channel menu item 918 is highlighted and at the cessation of a touch actuation (e.g., the lifting of a finger off the rotational input device of the remote control device)," Apple said. "The video preview can be generated, for example, by expanding the channel menu item vertically. In the received/broadcast context, the video preview can include the video data of the program currently being broadcast on the channel corresponding to the highlighted channel menu item."





Additional interface overlay menus described in the filings include a vertical browsing menu and "action menu," the latter of which would include icons for playback, recording, deletion, and accessing "related programming." Options would exist to record just one episode of a show or "all instances" of a series. A search overly component is also detailed, similar to the version already included in the current version of Apple TV, only suited to search the live programming guide. It could function both as part of both the full-screen guide, or via the narrow vertical overlay guide.



As part of its filings, Apple also included about a dozen tables showing the how the various inputs on the touch-based Apple remote would function differently depending on what content or navigational interface was displayed on the screen. For example, while browsing the on-screen guide, the left side of the circular touch surface would rotate the listing to the left, while that same function during video playback would rewind the video by 10 seconds.



Also of interest from the filings is a hybrid search function that would simultaneously search the live program guide and the iTunes Store for a certain criteria, combining the results in a single results window that would indicate which content was freely available as part of current or future television broadcasts, and which was available solely for purchase from the iTunes Store as previously-aired programming.
post #2 of 114
Sing me up to buy several of these things. This is exactly what I have been looking for. A Tivo with no monthly billing that can buy all of the content I desire A'la carte.

I would prefer just an OTA tuner and no cable card. Keep the cost down.
post #3 of 114
It will be interesting to see how much of this, if any, they put into production.
I have verizon FIOS now and I don't care for the on screen guide and its lag and I *hate* the on-demand interface. I haven't yet ventured into the DVR world, but if Apple could come up with something that does everything WELL then I would be very interested indeed.

If they could do for the human/TV interface what they seem to be doing for the human/cell phone interface, well, that would be a good thing.
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post #4 of 114
I'll take one.

Now.
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post #5 of 114
Quote:
Originally Posted by nace33 View Post

Sing me up to buy several of these things. This is exactly what I have been looking for. A Tivo with no monthly billing that can buy all of the content I desire A'la carte.

I would prefer just an OTA tuner and no cable card. Keep the cost down.

You just described exactly the functionality of the current EyeTV product from Elgato.
post #6 of 114
An Apple branded DVR would be awesome! I have an Elgato tuner that turns my Mac into a DVR, and works pretty darn well, but I'm sure Apple could make it way better. I think this would be a good move for Apple TV 3.0.
post #7 of 114
Quote:
Originally Posted by macintel4me View Post

You just described exactly the functionality of the current EyeTV product from Elgato.

I currently use EyeTV 3.0 from Elgato. EyeTV is some of the worst software around. Just try and delete any recording from your remote. You have to start watching another program in order to delete the one you just watched. Not to mention you have to go through several menus to do all of this. I am confident an Apple interface wouldn't be so idiotic. I think you get my point.
post #8 of 114
I WOULD BUY THIS TODAY!
love to get rid of my tivo.
post #9 of 114
Quote:
Originally Posted by macintel4me View Post

You just described exactly the functionality of the current EyeTV product from Elgato.

you can buy movies and TV shows from EyeTV? I did not know that!
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post #10 of 114
Fig. 14 and 15 -- Apple patents Late Show with David Letterman?
post #11 of 114
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bageljoey View Post

you can buy movies and TV shows from EyeTV? I did not know that!

No, but that's not what the the person was asking for. EyeTV can send its recordings to an AppleTV.
post #12 of 114
Quote:
Originally Posted by macintel4me View Post

You just described exactly the functionality of the current EyeTV product from Elgato.

You're neglecting the obligate computer attached to the EyeTV. To talk about the functionality of an EyeTV, you kind of need to include its computer. And an Apple Mini might superficially look like an Apple TV, but the functionality is very different.

I have an EyeTV, and I like it. But its dependence on a computer has kept it from finding a spot under my TV. A device like what's in this patent would be different, I think.
post #13 of 114
Nice, now do it at $250-300 and I'll take 3.
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post #14 of 114
The killer feature here is the remote....

But hey - who draws these things?? Yikes!
post #15 of 114
While I visit this site every day, I have never signed up for an account, but on the off chance that anyone from Apple actually checks up on these sites, I want to make it clear that THIS is the product for which I have been waiting. I have told my friends for years that if Apple were to ever release a product like this I would buy two immediately.

I have TiVo, and I prefer it 100x over the Comcast interface, but the interface is staid, is sluggish, and connectivity between a Mac and an iPod is laborious at best. I would actually pay up to $500 per machine if there were no monthly fees associated with it. I always thought because Apple was in bed with the content providers that this product would never come to pass, but let's hope these filings are a sign of something to come and to come soon. I hope that this is not released in January 09 as Apple TV Take 3... I want this now.
post #16 of 114
The biggest technical hurdle to this is the cable industry's continually evolving tuning standards. There are a huge number of horror stories about people trying to get CableCard's to work reliably. Then, just as things start getting sorted out with the 1.0 cards, v2.0 cards seemed to have been killed off in favor of OCAP. But that technology isn't finallized yet. And it requires that the 3rd party set-top box (in this case, AppleTV) allow the cable company to install it's own software on the device. Do you really want Comcast to be installing things on your AppleTV? And let's not forget switched digital video (SDV). As more and more cable companies deploy SDV, it will obsolete all existing 3rd party CableCard devices.

There is a reason TiVo is stuggling to make a business out of selling their own boxes, and is starting to instead license their software for the cable companies to just included on the cable boxes. Although they are trying to create an external device to attach to your box to work around the incompatibility between SDV and their current HD boxes.

I have no doubt that Apple could make a superior user interface. But making the hardware compatible with the cable industry's ever changing standards will be the real challenge.
post #17 of 114
Apple! King of Queens is only on in half-hour segments!

I smell a lawsuit!

...

...totally kidding.

-Clive
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post #18 of 114
Quote:
Originally Posted by Wiggin View Post

I have no doubt that Apple could make a superior user interface. But making the hardware compatible with the cable industry's ever changing standards will be the real challenge.

That is why this product should be OTA only. It doesn't depend on the cable companies changing standards. OTA isn't going anywhere (although analog is going bye bye). If there are shows you want that aren't on the major networks then buy them from iTunes.
post #19 of 114
Quote:
Originally Posted by audiopollution View Post

I'll take one.

Now.

Ditto.
post #20 of 114
Quote:
Originally Posted by nace33 View Post

That is why this product should be OTA only. It doesn't depend on the cable companies changing standards. OTA isn't going anywhere (although analog is going bye bye). If there are shows you want that aren't on the major networks then buy them from iTunes.

And therefore limit the product only to those who have good reception? Bad idea. OTA is an important feature, but for those who live the country or even for some who, like my parents, live in the city but in a valley with terrible TV reception, Cable is pretty much the only option for quality TV.

-Clive
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post #21 of 114
Expect Ireland to (attempt to) take over this thread in 3..2..1..

--

Initial thoughts are "Bring it on!" but it will be a way off to release, 2 years IMO. IF it actually happens, i think to be honest that its just some back covering, from the patent wh()r3s in Texas.
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post #22 of 114
Quote:
Originally Posted by nace33 View Post

That is why this product should be OTA only. It doesn't depend on the cable companies changing standards. OTA isn't going anywhere (although analog is going bye bye). If there are shows you want that aren't on the major networks then buy them from iTunes.

Sorry that doesn't work. There is too much live programming (ie: sports) that is cable only these days and not available on iTunes or OTA.

I would love to cancel my cable subscription. But that means I can't watch the Red Sox, Celtics, Bruins, and the few Patriots games that are on ESPN.

That is why I don't buy an Apple TV. Without access to live sports in HD, I cannot justify buying one.
post #23 of 114
I think we'll see this released next February to coincide with the switch from Analogue to Digital TV here in the US. As some of you might know, the analogue signal will be switched off on February 17, 2009. Imagine the opportunity to market these new devices.

FYI
http://www.fcc.gov/cgb/consumerfacts/digitaltv.html
post #24 of 114
While it looks great for cable customers, I just don't see this ever working with DirectTV. Although my current DirectTV HD-DVR does have an EtherNet port and a USB port. So maybe something could be done...
post #25 of 114
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ronbo View Post

You're neglecting the obligate computer attached to the EyeTV. To talk about the functionality of an EyeTV, you kind of need to include its computer. And an Apple Mini might superficially look like an Apple TV, but the functionality is very different.

I have an EyeTV, and I like it. But its dependence on a computer has kept it from finding a spot under my TV. A device like what's in this patent would be different, I think.

Yeah, the functionality is different. The mini is much better.

But you missed the point. The EyeTV does everything the person asked for. It's just Apple refusal to allow anything to connect to it that makes the AppleTV pretty worthless. Hooking up an EyeTV to an AppleTV would be the best solution. And the fact you can't do that is all on Apple...
post #26 of 114
Quote:
Originally Posted by Louzer View Post

Yeah, the functionality is different. The mini is much better.

But you missed the point. The EyeTV does everything the person asked for. It's just Apple refusal to allow anything to connect to it that makes the AppleTV pretty worthless. Hooking up an EyeTV to an AppleTV would be the best solution. And the fact you can't do that is all on Apple...

I would disagree. I have both the Mini/Eye TV setup as well as an Apple TV. The AppleTv works much better for viewing media in the living room. EyeTV on the AppleTv would be nice, but only if EyeTv fixed it's software.
post #27 of 114
I'll buy one on those in a heartbeat
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post #28 of 114
"Thereafter, a user of the remote control device can search programs that are to be broadcast and determine which programs to record. The recording settings can be programmed onto the remote control device, and then be provided to the video device when a data communication is established between the remote control device and the video device."

When I first read this, I was thinking that the train commuter brings his remote back to the house and sits in front of the TV to transfer his programming settings via IR. But notice that they said "when a data communication is established . . . " That could mean they are either contemplating a cell phone transmitter in the remote, or making the iPhone the/a remote. You could then send your programming choices back home from the train, or from Europe! You can sort of do this with TiVo, but it requires a computer, and Mac side version is problematic.
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post #29 of 114
Quote:
Originally Posted by Clive At Five View Post

And therefore limit the product only to those who have good reception? Bad idea. OTA is an important feature, but for those who live the country or even for some who, like my parents, live in the city but in a valley with terrible TV reception, Cable is pretty much the only option for quality TV.

-Clive

Will that still be the case when everything is switched to digital broadcast?

With less than a year before analog broadcast halts, it would seem most logical to focus on digital broadcast and other options. Analog will be dead by the time they ship this (IF they ever shipped it, I'm not holding my breath).
post #30 of 114
A little late for an obvious function, but welcome.

I might actually consider an Apple TV when this comes out.

For those saying using a computer to run your TV is a bit of overkill, isn't the AppleTV just a stripped down Mac?

As such wouldn't it be nice if Apple sneeked it into PC households as a capable OSX machine that would render their PC unnecessary when combined with their large flatscreen TV?
post #31 of 114
Quote:
Originally Posted by Walter Slocombe View Post

Initial thoughts are "Bring it on!" but it will be a way off to release, 2 years IMO. IF it actually happens, i think to be honest that its just some back covering, from the patent wh()r3s in Texas.

I concur.
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post #32 of 114
Quote:
Originally Posted by chrisgeleven View Post

Sorry that doesn't work. There is too much live programming (ie: sports) that is cable only these days and not available on iTunes or OTA.

I would love to cancel my cable subscription. But that means I can't watch the Red Sox, Celtics, Bruins, and the few Patriots games that are on ESPN.

That is why I don't buy an Apple TV. Without access to live sports in HD, I cannot justify buying one.

I've cancelled my cable, get OTA HD channels for free, and supplement by subscribing to the CNN and other cable podcasts, and buying the few cable shows I enjoy.

I do miss the sports from time to time, but I'm not a sports junkie. If there's a good game I really want to see, I'll head down the street to the bar and have a good time.
post #33 of 114
Quote:
Originally Posted by macintel4me View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bageljoey View Post

you can buy movies and TV shows from EyeTV? I did not know that!

No, but that's not what the the person was asking for. EyeTV can send its recordings to an AppleTV.

Yes, it is what the person was asking for...

Quote:
Originally Posted by nace33 View Post

Sing me up to buy several of these things. This is exactly what I have been looking for. A Tivo with no monthly billing that can buy all of the content I desire A'la carte.

Clearly he wants a single device attached to his TV which can record OTA or buy content, not a Rube Goldberg scheme with an Apple TV, a computer, and an EyeTV unit. You couldn't schedule recordings from the sofa, you'd have to go to the computer for that.

Now if the EyeTV (or other tuner device) could plug directly into that handy USB port on the back of the AppleTV... that would be the smart way for Apple to go. Then they don't have to worry about what kind of tuners to build into the box.
post #34 of 114
Quote:
Originally Posted by nace33 View Post

That is why this product should be OTA only. It doesn't depend on the cable companies changing standards. OTA isn't going anywhere (although analog is going bye bye). If there are shows you want that aren't on the major networks then buy them from iTunes.

I've thought about that in the past, ever since the new TiVo HD boxes came out and now include OTA tuners (in addition to CableCard support). I figured about half my TV watching was OTA that I could receive (ABC, NBC, CBS, FOX, PBS, WGN, UPN). About another 15% I could get on iTunes (25% if/when NBC comes back...for the shows they produce that are broadcast on other channels). That still leaves over 25% unavailable. And 50% not available in HD, since iTunes doesn't have HD TV shows.

As much as I hate Comcast, that just ain't gonna cut it.
post #35 of 114
Quote:
Originally Posted by minderbinder View Post

Will that still be the case when everything is switched to digital broadcast?

With less than a year before analog broadcast halts, it would seem most logical to focus on digital broadcast and other options. Analog will be dead by the time they ship this (IF they ever shipped it, I'm not holding my breath).

My parents' TV has digital reception (yes, they've entered the 21st century... please welcome them, everyone). Local stations are crystal clear. A few former UHF stations are still pretty crappy. Not that my parents watch the CW or myTV... hahaha.

-Clive
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post #36 of 114
Quote:
Originally Posted by nace33 View Post

I currently use EyeTV 3.0 from Elgato. EyeTV is some of the worst software around. Just try and delete any recording from your remote. You have to start watching another program in order to delete the one you just watched. Not to mention you have to go through several menus to do all of this. I am confident an Apple interface wouldn't be so idiotic. I think you get my point.

EyeTV is not meant to be a set top box completely controlled from the remote - it's for using a Mac to watch TV. There are lots of shareware and freeware software to turn your Mac into a set top box if that's what you want.

Anyway, why do you need to delete a recording from the remote? Just do it when you are back at the computer keyboard.
post #37 of 114
Quote:
Originally Posted by nace33 View Post

That is why this product should be OTA only. It doesn't depend on the cable companies changing standards. OTA isn't going anywhere (although analog is going bye bye). If there are shows you want that aren't on the major networks then buy them from iTunes.

OTA?
You seriously think that any manufacturer is going to market a product geared to an infrastructure that gives you about a dozen channels, most of them network pap? (Not to mention that OTA doesn't reach everyone.)

I'd love to consolidate to one box, but have to think hard about giving up HBO.
Take the John Adams biopic starting this weekend. (Or Six Feet Under, Sopranos, Rome etc etc.) This has been some of the best content available anywhere, including in theatres.

Cablecards are a joke, so if you want premium content, its pretty much cable or nothing. (or wait a year for the boxed sets or rentals, but I want to watch this stuff, not own it.)

the math comes down to,

Comcast HD DVR: ~$15/mo
HBO... haven't looked recently... $15/mo?

vs...

cost of ATV
At least $20/mo in HD rentals

I'd love to see a good analysis of the math for someone who likes some Premium content.
post #38 of 114
I sense a Apple TV 3.0 coming up in 2 years time
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post #39 of 114
Quote:
Originally Posted by ShavenYak View Post

Yes, it is what the person was asking for...

Thanks for the backup!
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post #40 of 114
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gustav View Post

EyeTV is not meant to be a set top box completely controlled from the remote - it's for using a Mac to watch TV. There are lots of shareware and freeware software to turn your Mac into a set top box if that's what you want.

Anyway, why do you need to delete a recording from the remote? Just do it when you are back at the computer keyboard.

Because my mac mini is connected to my plasma and it is a pain in the butt to have to get my keyboard and mouse out every time I want to delete something.
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