Apple TV DVR interface revealed in patent filings

Posted:
in iPod + iTunes + AppleTV edited January 2014
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.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 113
    nace33nace33 Posts: 94member
    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.
  • Reply 2 of 113
    bageljoeybageljoey Posts: 1,755member
    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.
  • Reply 3 of 113
    I'll take one.



    Now.
  • Reply 4 of 113
    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.
  • Reply 5 of 113
    tmedia1tmedia1 Posts: 104member
    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.
  • Reply 6 of 113
    nace33nace33 Posts: 94member
    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.
  • Reply 7 of 113
    freenyfreeny Posts: 128member
    I WOULD BUY THIS TODAY!

    love to get rid of my tivo.
  • Reply 8 of 113
    bageljoeybageljoey Posts: 1,755member
    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!
  • Reply 9 of 113
    magic_almagic_al Posts: 325member
    Fig. 14 and 15 -- Apple patents Late Show with David Letterman?
  • Reply 10 of 113
    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.
  • Reply 11 of 113
    ronboronbo Posts: 669member
    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.
  • Reply 12 of 113
    eckingecking Posts: 1,588member
    Nice, now do it at $250-300 and I'll take 3.
  • Reply 13 of 113
    stuhowestuhowe Posts: 16member
    The killer feature here is the remote....



    But hey - who draws these things?? Yikes!
  • Reply 14 of 113
    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.
  • Reply 15 of 113
    wigginwiggin Posts: 2,265member
    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.
  • Reply 16 of 113
    Apple! King of Queens is only on in half-hour segments!



    I smell a lawsuit!



    ...



    ...totally kidding.



    -Clive
  • Reply 17 of 113
    nace33nace33 Posts: 94member
    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.
  • Reply 18 of 113
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by audiopollution View Post


    I'll take one.



    Now.



    Ditto.
  • Reply 19 of 113
    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
  • Reply 20 of 113
    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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