Apple's cloud streaming could rely on small, locally stored song segments

Posted:
in iPod + iTunes + AppleTV edited January 2014
Apple's anticipated cloud-based music streaming service could could offer faster playback of Internet-stored content by syncing just small snippets of songs via iTunes.



The details were revealed this week in a new patent application published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and discovered by AppleInsider. Entitled "Local Storage of a Portion of Streamed Media Items," it describes a device like an iPhone having pieces of songs synced to it via iTunes.



Using this method, users could dramatically reduce the amount of storage used by their music library on their mobile device. Segments of the song would be stored locally, and the iOS software would fill in the gaps by obtaining the rest of the track from a file stored in the cloud.



Apple's application notes that with current streaming methods, a device must cache a sufficient amount of data for a media item. Only when enough of the file has been downloaded can streaming begin.



Earlier this year, Apple filed another cloud-related patent that described merging content from the cloud with a locally stored media library. This would seamlessly present both local files and those saved on the Internet in one list to users.



But Apple's more recent application notes that randomly jumping between content, as music listeners sometimes do, prevents the operating system from predicting the next song that will be played.



"When the electronic device is unaware of the next media item to play back, the electronic device can require undesired pauses between media items," the application reads. "Similarly, when a user skips to a different media item for playback, the electronic device can require a long pause during which no media item is played back as the new media item is streamed to the device."







Apple's solution would store only portions of media, such as songs, locally on a device like an iPhone. Using this method, the iOS mobile operating system would be able to immediately begin playback of a song from the locally saved data.



The system would then send out a request over the Internet for the exact same song, remotely stored elsewhere in its entirety. The system would then dynamically fill in the gaps and allow users to seamlessly listen to the song more quickly than if they were to stream the entire track.



The application suggests that the remotely stored content could be a user's own library, which they have streamed from a home computer or a remote server. Or, it could be streamed from a large "content source," such as the iTunes Music Store.







The described system would also utilize authentication methods, such as with an iTunes account username and password, to ensure that the user has purchased the items and has the right to stream them.



As for the syncing process, Apple's filing includes pictures that show an iPhone connected to iTunes via USB with the traditional "Music" pane open. Added is a new check box that reads "Sync partial music," allowing users to transfer those segments of songs.



Apple first filed for the proposed invention, which was made public this week, in November of 2009. It is credited to Allen P. Haughay and Benjamin Rottler.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 35
    MacProMacPro Posts: 17,586member
    Extremely clever. I wonder what happens if you want to store your own music not sourced from the store? It would simply not require the verification part?
  • Reply 2 of 35
    prof. peabodyprof. peabody Posts: 2,860member
    Sounds well, goofy to me. And convoluted.



    I don't see this being any benefit to me. I sure hope they have more up their sleeves for iCloud than streaming music.
  • Reply 3 of 35
    theothergeofftheothergeoff Posts: 2,066member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by digitalclips View Post


    Extremely clever. I wonder what happens if you want to store your own music not sourced from the store? It would simply not require the verification part?



    sounds like realtime torrenting.



    if so, way cool.



    I'm curious as to when 'appliances' (say a AppleTV with 64GB) becomes part of the cloud (borg;-) ) and is able to share snippets with nearby devices (on the same ISP).



    Caching servers that can share with other servers and/or end devices.



    Much different than Akamai and netflix, and more like a bit torrent.



    if every snippet is encrypted, then the authorization is just the decryption key for the song, signed with your iTMS certificate, and Apple's.



    Genius
  • Reply 4 of 35
    pagodpagod Posts: 3member
    there's something i don't really understand... are they really expecting us to rely only on a streaming service to listen to our music? what happens when i'm on the plane? or on the train in the middle of switzerland? i dunno about the US, but here the network (be it because of the provider or the phone or some interferences) is definitely not reliable enough, even if you have bits of a song stored on your device you'd still need to light a few candles and get down on your knees if you really want to seamlessly listen to your library up in the clouds...



    please someone explain that to me!
  • Reply 5 of 35
    roberteroberte Posts: 10member
    I would love to see this. I could stream from my home connection (if they don't provide a great cloud service) but my uplink at home is too slow for streaming the lossless music I have. But if my phone was smart enough to buffer part of songs then is could work much better.



    What I would love to see added is the option to convert the file quality on the fly as well. I want lossless storage at home on my living room stereo but would prefer to stream over the internet in something lover (say 192 kbps). Currently it's way to much manual management to do this.
  • Reply 6 of 35
    onhkaonhka Posts: 1,025member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by pagod View Post


    there's something i don't really understand... are they really expecting us to rely only on a streaming service to listen to our music? what happens when i'm on the plane? or on the train in the middle of switzerland? i dunno about the US, but here the network (be it because of the provider or the phone or some interferences) is definitely not reliable enough, even if you have bits of a song stored on your device you'd still need to light a few candles and get down on your knees if you really want to seamlessly listen to your library up in the clouds...



    please someone explain that to me!



    You are asking the wrong crowd.
  • Reply 7 of 35
    brutus009brutus009 Posts: 356member
    It's clever, but forces further reliance on mobile connectivity.

    How does the iPod Touch benefit?

    The Wi-Fi iPad?



    What about Switzerland?!
  • Reply 8 of 35
    takeotakeo Posts: 415member
    Clever but 99.9% of my collection of 4000+ songs was purchased on CD and ripped to iTunes. So I'm guessing I will be out of luck. I refuse to buy lesser quality tracks online. Maybe some day the iTunes store will offer lossless tracks.
  • Reply 9 of 35
    pxtpxt Posts: 683member
    It sounds so much more complicated than just syncing my smart playlists.



    Given Apple's reputation for mangling people's data with MobileMe, who is going to write the code anyway ?
  • Reply 10 of 35
    minderbinderminderbinder Posts: 1,703member
    A similar concept has been around for years for midi sample playback (Kontakt, EXS etc). In that case the beginning of every sample is loaded into ram while the rest is on hard drive - playback can start immediately from ram, and before the buffer runs out, the drive can seek to the data and start streaming it.



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Prof. Peabody View Post


    Sounds well, goofy to me. And convoluted.



    I don't see this being any benefit to me. I sure hope they have more up their sleeves for iCloud than streaming music.



    Sounds like you don't understand how it works. The benefit is pretty simple.



    Playing from the cloud without this, every time you'd hit play on a track it would take a couple seconds to start playing.



    Doing it with this method, every track would start immediately. I can't imagine how that wouldn't be a benefit.





    Quote:
    Originally Posted by pagod View Post


    there's something i don't really understand... are they really expecting us to rely only on a streaming service to listen to our music? what happens when i'm on the plane? or on the train in the middle of switzerland?



    I assume you will choose which content is fully stored on your device. So for example if your ipod holds 1000 songs now, you could have 800 stored and 10000 more available over streaming. You'd still have some content stored locally, but just enough to be a backup for those times when you don't have a connection. And in theory, you could be able to swap out the fully stored content during those times when you have a connection (wireless sync).



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by RobertE View Post


    What I would love to see added is the option to convert the file quality on the fly as well. I want lossless storage at home on my living room stereo but would prefer to stream over the internet in something lover (say 192 kbps). Currently it's way to much manual management to do this.



    That's a good idea. But depending on Apple's implementation, it may not be necessary. If they have contracts with the record companies, they may not require uploading content and just let Apple have people all stream the same copy of a song. Although if this is the case it would probably only work for content bought from the iTunes store.
  • Reply 11 of 35
    charlitunacharlituna Posts: 7,194member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by pagod View Post


    there's something i don't really understand... are they really expecting us to rely only on a streaming service to listen to our music?



    No they are not. Go back and read it again. You still have the option to sync full music just like always.
  • Reply 12 of 35
    minderbinderminderbinder Posts: 1,703member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by PXT View Post


    It sounds so much more complicated than just syncing my smart playlists.



    It wouldn't have to be much more complicated to the user. For each playlist they would just have to add an extra sync option:



    Fully Sync (available at all times)

    Cloud Sync (available to play back from the cloud)
  • Reply 13 of 35
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by pagod View Post


    there's something i don't really understand... are they really expecting us to rely only on a streaming service to listen to our music? what happens when i'm on the plane? or on the train in the middle of switzerland? i dunno about the US, but here the network (be it because of the provider or the phone or some interferences) is definitely not reliable enough, even if you have bits of a song stored on your device you'd still need to light a few candles and get down on your knees if you really want to seamlessly listen to your library up in the clouds...



    please someone explain that to me!



    I am with you Pagod...I can see this for video media which I would tend to watch while on WiFi and would not jump from selection to selection. But most of my audio listening is in the car and would rack up incredible 3G data charges. I would rather pay $100 more for my next iPhone and get the next larger storage size option. With the cost of local storage coming down, it seems illogical... unless...



    What if this is part of something else? What if this is part of an iPhone Nano with limited local storage to bring the entry cost down? Nah, that doesn't make a whole lot of sense either given last year's iPhone model sells for dirt, what would the logic be in an iPhone Ltd at the same price, or even $100 less than a full iPhone?
  • Reply 14 of 35
    solipsismsolipsism Posts: 25,726member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post


    The described system would also utilize authentication methods, such as with an iTunes account username and password, to ensure that the user has purchased the items and has the right to stream them.



    That is the part that got me. The only way I can see the labels agreeing to this would be if it?s music you?ve purchased from iTunes Store. It?s also a way that Apple can strengthen their store without having to wait money on streaming illegally and legally had content from other sources.





    Quote:
    Originally Posted by TheOtherGeoff View Post


    sounds like realtime torrenting.



    if so, way cool.



    I'm curious as to when 'appliances' (say a AppleTV with 64GB) becomes part of the cloud (borg;-) ) and is able to share snippets with nearby devices (on the same ISP).



    Caching servers that can share with other servers and/or end devices.



    Much different than Akamai and netflix, and more like a bit torrent.



    if every snippet is encrypted, then the authorization is just the decryption key for the song, signed with your iTMS certificate, and Apple's.



    Genius



    The AppleTV is the only device that makes sense to me right now. One of the drawbacks of the device is that it takes time to queue so having a 15 seconds of each song on the device and the rest queued and streamed during that time would make it faster. Since this would be locally streamed i can see how your entire library could be done this way regardless of where it was had.





    Could this also be used by Apple to sell a less expensive iDevice with less storage? Let?s do some math: How many songs does the average user have, at what bit rate are they stored, and how many seconds need to be stored.
    (A * B * S ) ÷ 8 = total storage required, where A is number of audio tracks, B is bitrate, and S is number of seconds stored locally.
    (5000 x 256,000 x 10) ÷ 8 = 1,600,000,000 bytes ≈ 12 GB.

    That?s still a lot of space used but less than full songs.
    (5000 x 256,000 x 150) ÷ 8 = 24,000,000,000 bytes ≈ 180 GB.
    Is my math correct?
  • Reply 15 of 35
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Techwarrior View Post


    I am with you Pagod...I can see this for video media which I would tend to watch while on WiFi and would not jump from selection to selection. But most of my audio listening is in the car and would rack up incredible 3G data charges. I would rather pay $100 more for my next iPhone and get the next larger storage size option. With the cost of local storage coming down, it seems illogical... unless...



    What if this is part of something else? What if this is part of an iPhone Nano with limited local storage to bring the entry cost down? Nah, that doesn't make a whole lot of sense either given last year's iPhone model sells for dirt, what would the logic be in an iPhone Ltd at the same price, or even $100 less than a full iPhone?



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by pagod View Post


    are they really expecting us to rely only on a streaming service to listen to our music?



    Guys. Pay attention. Even in the diagram it's an option denoted by a check box. Obviously you can continue to use your device of choice as you have always.



    Personally I think it's inventive. Like someone else mentioned I like the similarities to a torrent. It may be a difference in how Apple acquired the licensing being that part of the file has to reside on the device.



    I'm pretty excited to see what else they have in store if this indeed is representative of their plans. As you did point out Tech this could be a good way to leverage more storage for a cheaper device. Personally, I think one is inevitable.
  • Reply 16 of 35
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by solipsism View Post


    That is the part that got me. The only way I can see the labels agreeing to this would be if it?s music you?ve purchased from iTunes Store. It?s also a way that Apple can strengthen their store without having to wait money on streaming illegally and legally had content from other sources.







    The AppleTV is the only device that makes sense to me right now. One of the drawbacks of the device is that it takes time to queue so having a 15 seconds of each song on the device and the rest queued and streamed during that time would make it faster. Since this would be locally streamed i can see how your entire library could be done this way regardless of where it was had.





    Could this also be used by Apple to sell a less expensive iDevice with less storage? Let?s do some math: How many songs does the average user have, at what bit rate are they stored, and how many seconds need to be stored.
    (A * B * S ) ÷ 8 = total storage required, where A is number of audio tracks, B is bitrate, and S is number of seconds stored locally.
    (5000 x 256,000 x 10) ÷ 8 = 1,600,000,000 bytes ≈ 12 GB.

    That?s still a lot of space used but less than full songs.
    (5000 x 256,000 x 150) ÷ 8 = 24,000,000,000 bytes ≈ 180 GB.
    Is my math correct?



    Interesting you too think that it might be the reason Apple readily got the licenses. I hadn't thought too much about other devices, but I agree the Apple TV would surely benefit. The iPad especially for movies, but you'd "have" to be on wifi.



    I don't think that most "favorite playlists" are all that large and yet large enough to help one through their commutes. You can't synch that much to a 16GB iPhone anyway.



    My anecdote... I have about 4GB's of music on my phone which is all of my favorites so storing only 20% or so would be a solid reduction. I should probably buy a larger iPhone but my 16 GB was fine for about a year and then I invested in some big apps like navigon (4GB's) and Infinity Blade and Dead space. Now the damned thing is practically full. I think this would be a handy improvement for most of the iDevices especially when you get "locked" into an upgrade cycle. Makes me wonder what they'd say if i said I wanted an upgrade to the 32GB now.
  • Reply 17 of 35
    nvidia2008nvidia2008 Posts: 9,262member
    Now this here is an example of a proper patent! Not the vague stuff the patent trolls have been slinging at everybody and anybody.



    That said I don't think Apple will implement it this way. There's too much personal media stored to have to only save snippets of it... It would require a very intelligent predictive algorithm to determine what songs you want 100% stored locally and what songs you want streamed.



    I think iCloud will make things very simple. Unlike Google Music where you choose which songs you want to "Pin", with iCloud your iDevice/computer will have two options. Either Sync or Stream. Meaning, once a set of media is uploaded to the cloud, any other iDevice/computer will either Stream that media at adjustable bitrates, or, you hit Sync and it will download the whole thing.
  • Reply 18 of 35
    porchlandporchland Posts: 478member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Takeo View Post


    Clever but 99.9% of my collection of 4000+ songs was purchased on CD and ripped to iTunes. So I'm guessing I will be out of luck. I refuse to buy lesser quality tracks online. Maybe some day the iTunes store will offer lossless tracks.



    You are not the target market.



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by nvidia2008 View Post


    I don't think Apple will implement it this way. There's too much personal media stored to have to only save snippets of it... It would require a very intelligent predictive algorithm to determine what songs you want 100% stored locally and what songs you want streamed.



    I think iCloud will make things very simple. Unlike Google Music where you choose which songs you want to "Pin", with iCloud your iDevice/computer will have two options. Either Sync or Stream. Meaning, once a set of media is uploaded to the cloud, any other iDevice/computer will either Stream that media at adjustable bitrates, or, you hit Sync and it will download the whole thing.



    The idea of storing only part of a song makes a lot of sense in the context of managing playlists from your device in a subscription-based music service. You go into the iTunes app, download 10 or 12 different songs, and add them to playlists. All Apple has to send you while you are doing that is the snippets, so it makes managing your database a lot easier from the device because you're not waiting on a long list of downloads.



    Even in an all-you-can-eat music plan you still have to download the tracks, but in a streaming model you don't necessarily need the whole track when you add it to the list.
  • Reply 19 of 35
    paxmanpaxman Posts: 4,583member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by spliff monkey View Post


    Guys. Pay attention. Even in the diagram it's an option denoted by a check box. Obviously you can continue to use your device of choice as you have always.



    Personally I think it's inventive. Like someone else mentioned I like the similarities to a torrent. It may be a difference in how Apple acquired the licensing being that part of the file has to reside on the device.



    I'm pretty excited to see what else they have in store if this indeed is representative of their plans. As you did point out Tech this could be a good way to leverage more storage for a cheaper device. Personally, I think one is inevitable.



    But but - streaming, at least over 3g is prohibitively expensive so it makes no sense. Pay 50 bucks less for a device and hundreds more for data packages.



    I can see how this works in theory but it seems to be adding a lot of management just for music play back. Streaming music you own yourself just doesn't make any sense to me whatever way I look at it and I can't see it as an Apple move.



    On the other hand, if there is some kind of subscription model there may be a point to the exercise. I am dead curious, though.
  • Reply 20 of 35
    genovellegenovelle Posts: 733member
    Did anyone notice the Itunes streaming Icon and link on the picture. It's right below the the regular Itunes page link.
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