Apple's Music Streaming Service to Eliminate Buffering Lag With Locally-Stored Snippets?


As noted by AppleInsider, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office today published a patent application from Apple describing a system for eliminating delays in streaming media by storing small portions of the content locally on a user's mobile device. The content covered in the patent application, which is entitled "Local Storage of a Portion of Streamed Media Items" and was filed in November 2009, is particularly relevant given claims that Apple is on the verge of rolling out a cloud-based music storage service.

This invention is directed to playing back streamed media items using an electronic device. In particular, this is directed to locally storing one or more clips corresponding to a media item such that the clips can be immediately played back in response to a user request to play back the media item. While the clips are played back, the electronic device can retrieve the remaining segments of the media item from the user's media library as a media stream over a communications network. Once the playback of the clip is complete, the electronic device can seamlessly switch playback to the media stream received from the user's library. The electronic device can authenticate with the remote library using any suitable approach, including for example one or more passwords and tokens.

In essence, local storage requirements can be significantly reduced by keeping only a few seconds' worth of each audio or video file on the device itself. That content could begin playing immediately upon selection by the user as the remainder of the requested file is streamed in the background and seamlessly appended onto the locally-stored portion. The solution seeks to eliminate lag that can be generated by a streaming-only solution as the device builds an initial buffer of content to ensure smooth playback.

Among the figures included in the patent application is a schematic of an iTunes window showing music syncing preferences for an iPhone where a user can select whether or not to store snippets locally and other options such as the minimum connection speed required by the user to take advantage of the streaming capabilities, thus helping the system determine how much of the content needs to be stored locally. Remote storage of media could be deployed on any of a number of sources, including the user's own home computer, a central server, or directly from a marketplace such as Apple's iTunes Store.

Tag: patent

Top Rated Comments

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122 months ago
if they don't patent it...somebody else will and sue Apple in 10 years saying they successfully sold $XXXXXXXXXX songs and they want 1% of sales for doing nothing other than patent the idea that Apple wants to patent.


I hate buffering sometimes.
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
122 months ago

Wait... partially store a file on a computer = patent?

I think this, for once, is closer to a proper use of a software patent. Every other similar service everywhere has this buffering step before playing. If Apple has worked out a way around that, they deserve a patent. It's not like they're patenting generic "streaming music". That would be too lodsystic.

(Not that I support software patents...)
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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122 months ago
I call BS on this patent.

I mean, honestly, who would have Aaliyah, Aaron Tippin, AC/DC and Ace of Base in the same music library?
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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122 months ago
Snippets or not, just get the service out already! I want to listen to my iTunes library at work, where I'm not allowed to store content on the hard drive.
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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122 months ago
I cannot wait to see this implemented. I have about 150GB of music so this will (hopefully) assist me when chosing songs to carry on my iphone.
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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122 months ago
Sounds genius, but what about when someone wants to scrub through a song or movie to find a specific part? They'd still have to wait for something to download... Unless they had like, scrub spots / keyframes that were stored locally so the file could be skipped about...
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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