Apple's missing "Home on iPod" feature resurfaces in filing

Posted:
in macOS edited January 2014
Apple Computer has been granted a patent for a pretermitted feature of Mac OS X that would have allowed users to sync their home directories to an iPod and then use the data stored on the player to securely log into any supported Mac.



Dubbed "Home on iPod," the technology was once destined for Apple's Mac OS X 10.3 Panther, before it was abruptly yanked from pre-release builds of the operating system back in Oct. of 2003.



"Ever thought you could carry your home in the palm of your hands or in your pocket? You can. Panther's Home on iPod feature lets you store your home directory - files, folders, apps - on your iPod (or any FireWire hard drive) and take it with you wherever you go," Apple had written in a blurb on its Panther preview website that was eventually removed.



"When you find yourself near a Panther-equipped Mac, just plug in the iPod, log in, and you're 'home,' no matter where you happen to be," the description continued. "And when you return to your home computer, you can synchronize any changes you've made to your files by using File Sync, which automatically updates offline changes to your home directory."



Apple never offered an explanation for the feature retraction and popular speculation was that it would eventually resurface in a later iteration of the Mac OS X operating system. It never did.



Unfortunately, the patent filing granted to Apple this week offers no new clues about the fate of "Home on iPod," as it was filed Nov. 25, 2002, nearly a full year before the feature was pulled from pre-release Panther builds.



"A user account created at a multi-user computer can be stored to an external, portable data store, and thus the user account becomes portable," reads the description of the feature in the filing with the United States Patent and Trademark Office. "The multi-user computer system, through its operating system, locates user accounts on not only in local storage of the multi-user computer system, but also in any removable data storage attached to the multi-user computer system."







It continues: "Hence, by coupling the external, portable data store to another multi-user computer, a user is able to login to any supporting multi-user computer and be presented with their user configuration and user directory. Since the data store that stores the user account is not only external but also portable, a user can simply tote the data store to the location of different multi-user computers."



The "Home on iPod" concept is credited to Apple employees Robert Bowers of Cupertino, Calif. and Steve Ko of San Franscisco, Calif.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 48
    I'd love to see this as a feature in the next release. I'd use it extensively.
  • Reply 2 of 48
    jeffdmjeffdm Posts: 12,949member
    I have an old spare that I'd use for this purpose, it would keep me from selling it. It would make the video iPod more tempting for me, especially the 80GB model. I do perform backups on a more bi-monthly basis but if it can do a daily backup, then I'm all over it. That said, Time Machine is going to perform a similar function.
  • Reply 3 of 48
    I was hoping this feature would turn up again.
  • Reply 4 of 48
    crees!crees! Posts: 501member
  • Reply 5 of 48
    maccrazymaccrazy Posts: 2,657member
    This Home on iPod feature is unlikely to appear any time soon as the new iPods do not use FireWire and unless I'm mistaken Macs cannot boot from USB.



    Incidentally pretermitted means:



    Quote:

    pretermit |ˈpriːtəˌmɪt|

    verb ( -mitted , -mitting ) [ trans. ] archaic

    1 omit to do or mention : some points of conduct we advisedly pretermit.

    2 abandon (a custom or continuous action) for a time : the pleasant musical evenings were now entirely pretermitted.



  • Reply 6 of 48
    crees!crees! Posts: 501member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by MacCrazy


    This Home on iPod feature is unlikely to appear any time soon as the new iPods do not use FireWire and unless I'm mistaken Macs cannot boot from USB.



    Incidentally pretermitted means:



    Unfortunately my single source of dictionary terms doesn't include pretermit either.



    As for needing FW I was pissed when they got rid of it. Granted the reason probably was to bring cost down.
  • Reply 7 of 48
    chromoschromos Posts: 190member
    I wonder if the patent will stop MojoPac... it looked kinda cool and I was wondering if it would work with Parallels...
  • Reply 8 of 48
    buckbuck Posts: 293member
    Soon everything we're going to have will be patents, patents, patents... When will the beef be served at Apple?
  • Reply 9 of 48
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by MacCrazy


    This Home on iPod feature is unlikely to appear any time soon as the new iPods do not use FireWire and unless I'm mistaken Macs cannot boot from USB.



    The article doesn't even mention booting, just syncing user data. I doubt they ever planned to include booting.



    And the usb limitation went away with intel macs, they can boot off of USB.



    I suspect part of the reason for dropping this was that they knew intel might be on the way and anticipated potential compatibility issues. I hope they add the feature to Leopard, it would be very cool.
  • Reply 10 of 48
    could 'mobile me' be another name for this ??

    (i think 'mobile me' was a ptent that came up a while ago anyway!



    stu
  • Reply 11 of 48
    This feature would be MUCH more useful if there were more "panther-equipped" (leopard, now, if anything) Macs lying around. Macintosh presence is spotty, even at the library and college campus and even if they are present, are rarely running the most up-to-date operating system. IT departments that run both PCs and Macs take a look at Jaguar, say, "still no virii!" and put off updating macs for another year.



    The only widespread (if you even want to call it that) use for this technology is if you are lucky enough to have a Mac at work. So, not very widespread at all.



    It's cool though. I'd use it... if I had a use for it, that is.



    -Clive
  • Reply 12 of 48
    Is it not fairly apparent that this feature was pulled because iPods went to USB, not Firewire? Unless they bring the pod back to firewire, I don't predict we'll see this feature anytime soon.
  • Reply 13 of 48
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 31,797member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by DeaPeaJay


    Is it not fairly apparent that this feature was pulled because iPods went to USB, not Firewire? Unless they bring the pod back to firewire, I don't predict we'll see this feature anytime soon.



    I do remember this quite well. It was talked about for some time.



    But, I don't see why the lack of Firewire would have stopped it. There was a short time when USB was used with the PPC machines, and as others have mentioned, you wouldn't have to boot from it to make it useful.
  • Reply 14 of 48
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 31,797member
    I agree that it is a word.



    Other meanings are:



    To leave undone. neglect, suspend, and break off.



    My Merriam -Webster's unabridged has quite a bit more.



    The Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, 11th Edition doesn't list it as archaic either.
  • Reply 15 of 48
    asciiascii Posts: 5,941member
    I think the problem might be the iPod hard drives. They're not designed for heavy use.
  • Reply 16 of 48
    macgregormacgregor Posts: 1,434member
    Yes, it has been stated here that the iPod harddrives really only have a life span of continuous use that is measured in tens of minutes, though that doesn't entirely make sense since if you had to erase and refill the thing once or twice, that would hit that limit quickly?!
  • Reply 17 of 48
    frank777frank777 Posts: 5,798member
    How many people really need to carry their Home directory on an iPod?



    The bigger market (and much more profitable for Apple) is to allow users to easily sync their laptops with their workstations at home or office.



    Right now Email is a pain to sync between machines (don't even bother to raise IMAP) and allowing two machine syncing will cause Apple to sell a lot more laptops with desktops.



    That's why this is Firewire only:

    Connect the front port of Mac Pro to the side port on MacBook Pro and you're done.
  • Reply 18 of 48
    One of the features of Leopard is a "guest" user.

    Guests log into a "virtual" account and the account is reset when they log out.

    Perfect for when someone wants to use your computer to check their email or whatever.



    Instead of an iPod, I would like to see this be done with a USB stick.

    If you wanted to do this with an iPod, you would always need to carry the dock cable.



    It would be nice to be able to plug in a USB stick at the login window and have the option to login to my mobile account.

    Now when I launch Safari it has all my bookmarks and personal settings.



    What would be even better is if it could be done through .Mac no USB stick required.





    Hello from Seattle
  • Reply 19 of 48
    eckingecking Posts: 1,588member
    This sounds like a cool interesting feature, but I just don't know if it's that useful anymore with time machine on the way and ipods can already sync address books and calenders.
  • Reply 20 of 48
    I would hope that they wouldn't limit it to iPods - but allow any external drive to be used. I personally would use a big drive (and fast) for that purpose. Apple doesn't need to do the "home on ipod" thing to sell more iPods - they don't have any problem doing that at all.



    I like Frank777's comment about laptops/desktops - I personally want a laptop for portability but have "settled" for an iMac 24 since I need the big screen/drive space more than I need portability. However, if Apple (or 3rd party) would come up with a way to do transparent syncing or "Home on MacBook", then I (and no-doubt countless others) would justify getting a second Mac (laptop if they had desktop and visa-versa)
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