Thursday, September 02, 2010, 07:10 am PT (10:10 am ET)
Apple aiming to improve syncing, sorting of cloud-based contentA day after the new cloud-based Apple TV was unveiled, two patent applications from Apple describe methods to improve the experience of over-the-air syncing, and browsing of Internet-based content.
The documents describe wirelessly syncing data between a server in the "cloud," and a client device owned by an individual user. They also detail methods that aim to improve the navigation, browsing, search and playback of digital media that is hosted on a remote server.
One application, entitled "Media and User Interface for Accessing Groups of Media Assets," relates to browsing content through scrolling lists, searching for specific content, or viewing by category types. The other, named "Data Synchronization Protocol," describes the syncing of data over the Internet to portable devices like the iPhone, and stationary ones like a Mac.
The timing of the publishing of the documents is noteworthy, as Apple on Wednesday revealed its new cloud-centric Apple TV, a $99 device that focuses exclusively on streaming from external devices and over the Internet. Apple will allow TV episode rentals for 99 cents, and first-run HD movies for $4.99 over the device, as well as access to other Internet-based content from Netflix, YouTube, Flickr and MobileMe.
The new Apple TV aims to simplify the browsing experience by relying solely on the cloud, and not saving data on the device itself. In addition to streaming video, the new Apple TV also helps users catch shows they may have missed by keeping viewed content synced with the cloud.
"Apple TV keeps track of your favorite shows so the next time you turn on your TV, you can quickly see which season youre watching and which episodes are new," Apple's promotional materials read. "Select shows with a few clicks of the included remote. And if your viewing list gets a bit long, Apple TV lets you rearrange it any way you want by clicking and reordering shows using the remote."
Of course, Wednesday's Apple TV announcement is expected to be only the beginning for Apple's cloud-based initiative, as the company is reportedly looking to offer an Internet-based iTunes service. The company has reportedly been in talks with content providers and aims to obtain the necessary licenses to allow users to stream their content to their devices, even with limited or no storage like the Apple TV.
The new application related to data synchronization describes syncing across a number of devices, including Macs and iPhones. It describes allow over-the-air syncing of portable devices, like the iPhone, that currently must be tethered to a computer via USB to sync.
The described invention includes "fast," "slow" and "reset" sync modes, determined based on a request received from the mobile device. The sync modes can be applied to different types of data classes with different file sizes (say, contacts vs. photos) to more efficiently conduct the cloud-based sync.
The application related to browsing on the Apple TV describes providing a list of information to users, and allowing them to expand that list or seek additional information via a remote control.
"The user interface arrangement enables user scrolling or browsing with respect to a list or set of information pertaining to media items, where the list or set can be expanded to include information for additional media items that are subsequently acquired," the application reads. "The user interface arrangement can also present and permit navigation of categorized media items. The user interface arrangement can be presented on a display device associated with a client device."
It describes methods for quickly sorting content that can be streamed from the cloud, based on criteria set by the user when they browse based on category, or conduct a search.
The application pertaining to syncing was filed on May 13, 2010 and is credited to Brendan A. McCarthy and Carsten Guenther. The application related to browsing of content was originally filed for on May 12, 2010, and is a continuation of a patent filed on May 28, 2007. It is credited to Rachel Clare Goldeen, Jeffrey Ma, Michael Margolis, Rainer Brodersen, Calin Pacuraiu, and Jeffrey L. Robbin.
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