Apple patent gives a glimpse of iTunes Cloud?

Patently Apple has shone a light on a recent Apple patent that shows how cloud based music and media locker could be integrated into iTunes in robust, dare I say seamless manner.

Apple's patent and invention is directed to locally storing portions of a media item that is streamed to an electronic device. In particular, Apple's invention is directed to locally storing an initial portion of a media item from a user's library, and requesting a stream of the remaining portion of the media item upon starting local playback of the initial portion.

The media items owned or accessible by a user could be stored in a user's media library. The media library could be stored on any suitable device, including for example on a host device, on a remotely accessed server, in a cloud, or in any other suitable location. The user could store at least some media items of the library on an electronic device so that the user could locally play back the media items. The electronic device could include communications circuitry for remotely connecting to the media library and stream media items to the user's device.

So you could basically tap a song, the local portion will begin to play, and your iPhone or iPad would start getting ready to stream the rest from the cloud. That gives instant access but also time to buffer, which means less chance for delays when they're most annoying -- during the song or show.

There's even a setting (see the image above) to let you choose to sync partial music to your device in the iTunes sync settings tab.

So while Apple is getting their record label deals in place, and we're wondering if iTunes cloud will only serve up iTunes music, I'm going to ask if this type of system is the one you want?

[Patently Apple]

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Senior Editor at iMore and a practicing therapist specializing in stress and anxiety. She speaks everywhere from conferences to corporations, co-host of Vector, Review, and Isometric podcasts, and should be followed on Twitter @Georgia_Dow.

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Reader comments

Apple patent gives a glimpse of iTunes Cloud?


Seems there would be more than just music. Security would be a main issue. Look at amazon's recent cloud problem. It will be nice to have storage off the computer.

Will my music outlive me? When buying music I sort of realize that I can't keep it for ever. Or by then will it be embedded in my brain and die with me. I'm just saying.

So if there are cloud issues, at least I can listen to the first 23 seconds of all of my music until it's back up again.
Actually, it sounds like a pretty clever solution. I'm like instant music and no real breaks between songs, and (assuming the cloud cooperates) this seems to address both potential issues.

The interesting twist on the Pandora/Spotify use is that they both had been using it before Apple even filed the patent. IANAL, so I do not know if, strictly speaking, this qualifies as prior art, since neither of those companies appears to have filed for a patent. However, since Apple had to approve (or reject) the code in question, and may have done so before their own filing date, it certainly suggests an awkward scenario where Apple could examine submitted apps for technologies they could patent.
(I do not think this happened in this case -- caching as a way to overcome latency seems one of those obvious-to-average-practitioner things that should not be patentable, and the fact that Pandora and Spotify both implemented such strategies for music independently without bothering to patent would underscore this.)