Apple patent looks to improve streaming with locally stored content to prevent buffering

Thu, May 19, 2011


AppleInsider directs us to a new Apple patent filing that entails a new method for eliminating the inherent buffering delays associated with streaming music and video online. Apple’s solution relies on using small portions of a file being locally stored on a user’s mobile device which can start playing immediately upon selection. This is particularly intriguing in light of the many recent reports pointing to a new streaming media service from Apple.

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.

As you can tell from the patent illustration above, a user would have the option via iTunes to partially sync their music and store tiny bits of their files on their device. Presumably, the user’s minimum connection speed would determine how large each stored and partial file would be.

This implementation coupled with a streaming service from Apple would obviate the need for users to store their entire music library on their device, which can easily be a concern now that iTunes houses higher quality songs with larger file sizes. Factor in video and app content and users can fill up their iOS devices rather quickly.

“When the electronic device is unaware of the next media item to play back, the electronic device can require undesired pauses between media items,” Apple’s patent application reads. “Similarly, when a user skips to a different media item for playback, the electronic device can require a long pause during which no media item is played back as the new media item is streamed to the device.”




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