Apple shows continued interest in expanded cloud data syncing

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Future mobile devices from Apple could sync and save large amounts of data over the Internet, allowing future access to information when an Internet connection is no longer available and removing the need to tether to a PC.

Apple's continued interest in expanding its cloud-based sync capabilities were demonstrate with a new patent application revealed this week, entitled "Configurable Offline Data Store." The invention, filed with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on June 14, 2010, would synchronize data for offline use when an Internet connection is not available.

It describes a system that would allow users to access content from a remote computer or server, but also save that information locally for use when an Internet connection is not available. The application also notes that users may want to disable their Internet because constant syncing and updating may result in poor performance.

It describes individual applications that would be able to access this cloud-stored data, dubbed "savvy applications." These are distinguished from "non-savvy applications," which would not have access to the remote data.

The smart syncing system would predetermine which data might be "reasonably requested" when the two machines are reconnected, having it queued an ready to go immediately. The system would also allow for other "requested records," which would occur when changes are made to lesser-used files.

Current mobile devices from Apple like the iPhone have a number of options for users to sync basic data, such as iPhone contacts, with Internet-based services. But the company is also said to be interested in offering a cloud-based streaming service for purchased iTunes content, like music and movies.

But Apple's latest patent application would allow such data to be stored locally, and synced from anywhere with an Internet connection, rather than on a local network or via a USB cable.

Such a feature could also be used with Apple's App Store, where software downloads greater than 20MB in size are not allowed over cellular data networks. When on a 3G network, the client-side machine — an iPhone or iPad — could save an intended download for later, when it can be obtained over a Wi-Fi network.

For more on Apple's ambitions in the cloud, see other related patent applications published this year: