iTunes Cloud Music Streaming Confirmed by Apple Patent?
As if there was any remaining doubt that Apple was working on a cloud player for your iTunes library, a patent has surfaced that describes just how part of the service will work. Somewhat amusingly, one of the drawings contained within the patent is, well, of a cloud.
So how will this work for the end user? The gist is that iOS devices will have the option to locally store small cached snippets of songs you want to play, and the remaining portion of the song will be downloaded and streamed while that initial local cache is playing. This setting will be contained within iTunes, as indicated in the patent image at the bottom of this post. Patently Apple describes this further:
The electronic device could receive and locally store initial portions of media items in the electronic device. When a user then instructs the device to play back a media item, the electronic device could initiate playback of the locally stored portion of media item while requesting a stream from the user’s media library for the remaining portion of the media item
Also, in an indicator that Apple is planning far into the future, the iTunes cloud patent shows that users will be able to select the speed of the network that which they are streaming onto. These network settings include 3G, WiFi, and, somewhat surprisingly, 5G coverage. This is also referenced in the graphic below.
While this patent details a small part of the media streaming portion of Apple’s upcoming cloud strategy, rumors persist that other cloud-based features will be coming to the Apple lineup as well, from wireless iOS syncing to over-the-air iOS updates and even some kind of cloud storage in Mac OS X Lion. Whether or not these features will be opt-in like the iTunes “iCloud” patent described above remains to be seen.