Apple Details Automatic Station Tuning Function for Audio and Video Content
Apple has been awarded a patent by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (via AppleInsider) detailing a "station tuning" function for a media player or mobile device that would curate a playlist filled with both audio and visual content based on a user's interests.
The patent, which was originally filed in 2008, details a system that would automatically pull from content streams such as radio broadcasts, television broadcasts, and onboard media to deliver a custom playlist, and would also factor in metadata and user patterns when selecting different types of content. The tuning function is similar to the Genius feature currently found in iTunes, but extends well beyond the selection of music and into a variety of content.
The media player may automatically tune to one of the sources based on user preferences or criteria to output the currently playing content. The media player may tune to a source or switch from one source to another source based a user's tastes for music, a give volume level, an aversion to talk radio, or other user preferences or criteria. The media player may also queue or schedule forthcoming content on a given source for playback to the user.
In terms of controlling the tuning function, the patent details a gesture controlled graphical user interface that resembles a radio tuner. The interface itself would allow for previews of stations, as well as the ability to search for specific content based on criteria and when to trigger the station tuning.
Factors such as the volume, color, hue, and saturation attributes of content may also be used to determine what to include next in a playlist, with the function also being able to determine and show relevant advertisements or whether to skip them altogether based on a user's listening patterns.
It is unknown when or even if Apple plans to integrate a station tuning function into an existing product, but such a feature would fit well into Apple's iTunes Radio. While Apple already includes a host of stations to choose from in iTunes Radio including a "Featured Stations" function, integrating station tuning with content beyond audio would be an appealing addition for the service.