Apple investigating cloud-based media syncing, tagging on the go

in iPod + iTunes + AppleTV edited January 2014
Apple's expected future plans for a cloud-based iTunes could grant users the ability to sync media playback, allowing them to pick up where they left off, and tag media from other sources like HD and satellite radio, according to new patent applications.

Two of Apple's latest applications revealed this week through the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office relate specifically to cloud-based media. The first application, entitled "Recapping Media Content," describes a system where users could continue the playback of an album, TV show or movie from where they left off on another device.

The described system would apply both to locally stored content, as well as media being streamed from the Internet. The application suggests that such a system could automatically provide the viewer with a recap, to refresh them on what they've already watched.

"Current media players do not provide a feature for recapping earlier media content according to a recapping control variable, then displaying descriptive information related to the recapped media content," the application reads. "Moreover, current media players do not provide a feature where the descriptive information related to the recapped media content may be text, images, audio or a combination thereof."

Apple's solution would sync playback data and personal preferences, allowing users to access their content and pick up where they left off from a variety of devices. And the system would provide a quick recap, so that users won't be lost on the story of a TV show or movie.

The application states that this could be accomplished through a specific application, such as iTunes, or a browser-based media player. The invention, filed for on Nov. 25, 2008, is credited to Windy Chien, Gary Stewart and Robert Kondrk.

Separately, a second cloud-based patent revealed on Thursday describes a system where users could receive tags for content automatically from the Web, allowing them to discover streaming or radio content through iTunes and purchase it.

Entitled "Tagging Media Assets, Locations, and Advertisements," the application first filed on Jan. 26, 2010, encompasses a number of broadcast mediums, including HD radio, satellite radio, streaming Internet radio, and downloaded content. Content could be tagged in a number of categories, including basics like artist and album, the call letters of the radio station it might have been heard on, the URL for the podcast RSS feed, or a country of origin for the media.

A user's location when listening to content could also be stored, via a GPS receiver. Such a system could also obtain specific information, like the DJ on a radio station when a particular song was played.

"A tag associated with the data tag may be used to perform a number of different actions by a number of different systems," the application reads. "For example, a tag may be used to obtain additional information, advertisements, and/or access to (e.g., purchase, receive for free, etc.) media content."

The invention is credited to Jesse Lee Dorogusker, Emily Clark Schubert, Donald J. Novotney, Lawrence G. Bolton, and Eric Oliver.

Both applications are particularly interesting, given persistent rumors and strong evidence that Apple is working on a cloud-based iTunes that would allow users to stream their content from the Internet via a variety of connected devices. Late last year, Apple purchased streaming music service Lala for $85 million, leading to speculation that Apple is working on a cloud-based iTunes that would allow users to stream their music from multiple devices and even Web browsers, without using the iTunes desktop client. While Apple has remained tight-lipped, some have said the service will arrive in 2010.

The now-Apple-owned Lala will cease operations next week, on May 31, giving users who bought songs through the site an iTunes credit. That date is just a week before Apple is set to kick off its annual Worldwide Developers Conference on June 7, which has lead to speculation that an iTunes cloud service could be unveiled at Apple's event. However, MediaMemo's Peter Kafka reported that such a move is not expected anytime soon, as Apple allegedly only recently began talking to record labels about a Web-based version of iTunes.


  • Reply 1 of 13
    MacProMacPro Posts: 19,471member
    Google and M$ dispatch team to research and copy ....
  • Reply 2 of 13
    smiles77smiles77 Posts: 668member
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

    ...Apple allegedly only recently began talking to record labels about a Web-based version of iTunes.

    I somehow doubt this.
  • Reply 3 of 13
    stevetimstevetim Posts: 482member
    i'm not a blood sucking lawyer, but i bet this would be an easy one for competitors to go around.
  • Reply 4 of 13
    str1f3str1f3 Posts: 573member
    Apple really needs to get their "cloud" services in order. I would expect the music streaming to be here no earlier than September but it needs subscription for TV and movies. Maybe iAds might help out the latter cause.
  • Reply 5 of 13
    jetzjetz Posts: 1,293member
    Good feature. Marginally different from what they demo'ed in the Android 2.2 keynote where a website or an address is fired off to your Android device through the cloud and activates the browser or navigation on arrival.
  • Reply 6 of 13
    shubiduashubidua Posts: 157member
    I guess / hope we will se iTunes X in september with a lot of cool features, including cloud based iTunes. Maybe the could based iTunes could also be used to manage the iDevices, as I know some don't like the fact that they need to download iTunes for them. Who knows what apple has up their sleeves?
  • Reply 7 of 13
    caliminiuscaliminius Posts: 944member
    Originally Posted by digitalclips View Post

    Google and M$ dispatch team to research and copy ....

    Meanwhile half of the first patent is a rip-off of Amazon's Whispersync tech for the Kindle but you conveniently forgot to mention that...
  • Reply 8 of 13
    antkm1antkm1 Posts: 1,441member
    I tend to agree that these patents seem like they are a rip-off of other services that offer this.

    As for the iTunes Cloud developments, I'm happy this is continuing to be a factor for future iTunes versions. I'm curious to know how they intend to "tag" media that was downloaded from physical media (i.e. CD's and video files like from camcorders or internet based video downloads).

    I'd personally love to see this happen soon. The issue of downloading iTunes in order to sync devices is tiring. having multiple versions floating between work and home and not being able to sync between them.

    What i'd really like to see is to eliminate the need for storage of personal media entirely. Have it all on the cloud. That way, like the apple TV, you would not need "storage" for all your media and it's just streamed and played to the device. Granted this would create a need for faster connection speeds. but there must be a way.
  • Reply 9 of 13
    razorpitrazorpit Posts: 1,796member
    I would be happy if my iPhone would "pickup where I left it" when I stop listening to a podcast or audio book. I remember back in the day when I could stop listening to a podcast, listen to some music, come back to the podcast and it would pick up right where I stopped it. Now 40% of the time it looses its place and starts at the beginning.
  • Reply 10 of 13
    cgc0202cgc0202 Posts: 624member
    Originally Posted by caliminius View Post

    Meanwhile half of the first patent is a rip-off of Amazon's Whispersync tech for the Kindle but you conveniently forgot to mention that...

    From your so definitive proclamation, you claim to be an expert of the contents of both approved patents, and by inference an expert of patent laws, at least in the United States.

    So, please enlighten us with your depth of knowledge and the technologies underlying these two approved patents, for us to accept your bold accusation.

    Unless it is really an earth shaking discovery or invention, all new technologies are founded from prior technologies. For example, the revolutionary medical machine, Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), which led to Nobel Prize Medals for the inventors and more than likely quite a few primary patents and derivative patents, still depended on many prior discoveries and inventions -- optics, electricity, electromagnetic waves, just to name a few.

    I have not heard any sensational news to suggest that Amazon suddenly had this talent of basic researches that led to discoveries and inventions that created the amazing and game changing device, the Kindle. I only heard that they were selling like "hot cakes", so the modest Jeff Bezos was hesitant to share the total unit sales.

    Actually, if I have to speculate, more than 90% of the technology in the Kindle are prior technologies and the novelty and function improved upon that led to a patent would be its form factor or how the prior technologies have been put together to lead to something worth patenting. This is the reason why you did not hear Jeff Bezos grandstanding and threatening to sue Barnes and Noble when it came out with its own book reader. Jeff Bezos knew that both e-readers were based mainly from prior inventions but have sufficient novelties to warrant their co-existence without patent or trademark infringements.

    In fact, not only did Jeff Bezos not sue Apple when Steve Jobs announced the Apple iBooks, he was so concerned that the Kindle is so way behind Apple's iBook, he had to use Amazon's juggernaut in online books and other electronic contents to strong-arm publishers and newspapers. It did not work of course. Jeff Bezos had to capitulate. Now, it is trying to find a way for the Kindle to catch up with iBooks capabilities.

    This is not to say that the iPad and the iBook themselves have led to primary patents; more than likely they led to derivative patents and registered trademarks, in terms of their form factors.

    To bring down the discussion to the level of the term you used: The Kindle, the Barnes and Noble e-reader, and the Apple iBooks are all rip-offs not just half but more than likely more than 90% of prior inventions and discoveries. Similarly, the iPad which is used as one of the vehicle devices for the iBooks, as a device has more than 90% of its materials and technologies that were themselves protected either by primary or derivative patents. If Apple paid royalties for those patents, or bought the raw materials used for any of its products from duly licensed manufacturers, then Apple has not infringed on any patent. Some companies, like Nokia, have claimed infringements, but that is for the patent attorneys to argue and for the court to decide -- they are too complex for us pedestrian lawyers

    The Claims section of Primary and Derivative Patents

    The heart of any patent is the Claims section. Provided Apple did not include in the claims section anything that infringes on claims of approved prior patents or prior inventions and discoveries that were already under public domain there would be no infringement.

    You claim otherwise, so please present to us your proofs and detail to us the claims in the Amazon patent and the Apple patent, to be so bold and certain in stating:

    Originally Posted by caliminius View Post

    Meanwhile half of the first patent is a rip-off of Amazon's Whispersync tech for the Kindle but you conveniently forgot to mention that...

    Simply stating to be so, does not make a fact.

  • Reply 11 of 13
    jetzjetz Posts: 1,293member

    Why so defensive? It was a fair comment, imho. digitalclips had suggested that MS and Google will copy the feature. But he ignored the fact that Amazon has already deployed a similar feature. And Google also has something along the same vein for webpages and other data that they demonstrated in Android 2.2.

    By digitalclips line of thinking, Apple is "copying" Amazon (and immitating Google's recently demoed ideas). Does it matter? No. If others have a good idea, Apple should copy it (albeit without violating their IP), and if Apple has good ideas other should copy them (again, without any transfer of IP). These ridiculous assertions that Apple doesn't copy good ideas from others or that others are blatantly wrong to immitate Apple's good ideas in their products, is just childish. They all stand on each others shoulders and reach higher. As long as they aren't stealing each other's IP, that's healthy for innovation.
  • Reply 12 of 13
    jetzjetz Posts: 1,293member
    My question is why stop at iTunes? Offer what Google showcased in Android 2.2: the ability to send a webpaged to your phone browser or the ability to transfer data from maps on your computer directly into maps on your phone. That kind of stuff is awesome.

    Media synching is meh. It's much easier to find where you left off in a song or a movie than that other stuff. It's a good new features to be sure. But they should have added more substance.
  • Reply 13 of 13
    satcomersatcomer Posts: 130member
    Well I wonder if this has to do with the Apple Network Center they were building in North Carolina?
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