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macrumors bot
Original poster
Apr 12, 2001

While perhaps not as glamorous as 3D display technology, a couple of other patent applications from Apple reveal that the company is working on improving the audio/video experience of their iPod and iPhones.

Apple describes how they might keep track of individual playback characteristics of songs on an iPod in order to improve the overall user experience. Apple could, for example, track a user's preferences for volume, start time, equalizer settings and other factors and apply those automatically in the future. As an example, Apple gives the start time of a track:
For example, the usage metadata may indicate that a user skips, on average, the first 22 seconds of a particular song so the next time that song is played, the first 22 seconds will automatically be skipped.
In another example, Apple suggests that skipped songs which are rarely listened to might be dimmed out or otherwise obscured in favor of songs that the user prefers.

Meanwhile, another application suggests that the iPod or iPhone could actively determine if there is enough battery life to play the selected video. If not, the user could be given a warning as well as options to degrade the video settings or reduce backlighting in order to prolong battery life enough to watch the entire selection. When not enough battery life is detected, a warning dialog would pop up giving the user an option to simply proceed or make the desired adjustments:
The System Does not Have Sufficient Power for Playing the Entire Selected Video Segment.

Choose "Adjust Settings" for Lowering Power Consumption or Otherwise Choose "View Video" to View Selected Video for the Remaining Time.
It seems this would be a welcome feature for travelers to avoid missing the last bit of a movie due to a low-running battery.

Article Link: Apple Patents: Tailoring Music Playback and Dynamically Prolonging Battery Life on iPods and iPhones


macrumors 68020
Mar 12, 2006
Rural America
This sounds awesome. Dynamically changing the list of songs based upon what I listen to and how I listen would make scrolling through my playlists a breeze.

Who votes "negative" on stuff like this?!


macrumors 6502
Jan 21, 2007
This is a good idea. Goodbye, intro to Teenage Riot. No need to fast forward through J vs. S to get the correct playcount on Shady Lane. Et cetera.


macrumors 68000
Apr 4, 2003
Wirelessly posted (Mozilla/5.0 (iPhone; U; CPU iPhone OS 3_1_2 like Mac OS X; en-us) AppleWebKit/528.18 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/4.0 Mobile/7D11 Safari/528.16)

That's pretty neat. Like the dimming of rarely listened to songs, and the video adjustment is very cool.


Moderator emeritus
Jan 9, 2004
Grand Rapids, MI, USA
This sounds awesome. Dynamically changing the list of songs based upon what I listen to and how I listen would make scrolling through my playlists a breeze.

I really wish, in particular, Genius had a thumbs up/down feature like Pandora. I generally think the mixes are quite good, but the major problems are (1) that mixes from the same starting song are almost always the same, in spite of having >6000 songs on my iPhone, and (2) they frequently contain one or two songs that I really don't like (usually freebies I picked up from the iTunes Store), and yet even though I skip them, they keep getting populated into the list.


macrumors 6502a
Aug 30, 2005
sounds sort of nice (if implemented properly, software that tries to guess what you want do can be more annoying then useful) but at the same time i really can't understand how this kind of stuff can be patented.


macrumors 68030
Oct 2, 2007
Sounds like it could be good.
For songs with long intros or long outros, i just adjust the song length to where it begins/ends via the Cmd-I in iTunes.


Nov 25, 2005
This sounds awesome. Dynamically changing the list of songs based upon what I listen to and how I listen would make scrolling through my playlists a breeze.

Who votes "negative" on stuff like this?!

I do. Any software that tries to be "helpful" based on past behaviour tends to get it completely wrong and ends up very annoying.

Take the "skip beginning" bit: So I tried to compare the quality of 128 KBit and 192 KBit encoding. Ripped the same song twice, then played both copies repeatedly, always skipping a minute of music to get to a complex part where I hoped to hear a difference. Did that ten times in a row, then deleted the 128 KBit copy. Result: The stupid "clever" software makes it impossible for me to listen to the first minute of the song!

This is the kind of behaviour that Microsoft regularly gets complaints about. Like from a university professor who entered grades into Excel; first three students had an A+, and based on this Excel "helpfully" changed the grades of the next five students from A to A+ because obviously the professor wanted to enter an A+ as before.

In my personal life, Amazon never, ever will forget which three books about a related subject I bought for my daughter as a Christmas present, and it continuously asks me if I want more related books. No, I don't ****ing want _any_ books about this, and three is enough for my daughter, and she has moved on to something else anyway. And the music that I buy from iTunes is very often purchased to fill gaps in my collection, so I might have the best, second best, and third best album of an artist on CD and buy the fourth best on iTunes. So if you judge my music taste by my purchases, you may go very wrong.

And if I play some music twice, its usually because I got a phone call after it started and I missed most of it, so I play it again. So the songs in an album that are played twice are not the ones that are best or that I like best, they are the ones where I got interrupted.

The only good idea is adjusting movie playback to battery life.


macrumors 6502a
Mar 17, 2009
Sydney, Australia
It's all about the software

This is why Apple software sells the hardware and why other vendors copy it... the enhancement of user experience combined with great hardware... the combination is what makes the differene...


Jan 18, 2005
This isn't as exciting as gimmicky 3D displays that we wont see for a good many years? Eh! This is much more realistic and bound to happen. I really like the idea of fading out songs that don't get played as much. It would mean hunting down my most played tracks much quicker.

Small White Car

macrumors G4
Aug 29, 2006
Washington DC
Who votes "negative" on stuff like this?!

People who forget that stuff like this is optional.

I don't like 'shake to shuffle' on my iPhone so I turn it off. I'd call 'shake to shuffle' a positive feature even though I never use it.

I'm certain that people who voted this negative are going to complain about how they don't want to use if that matters. Use or don't use it, but it's a great idea.


macrumors 603
Sep 19, 2003
Canada, eh?
I'm forever amazed at what sorts of ideas get patented. These are great ideas, sure, but patents? It's not ALL that original...

This is the sort of thing that leads to companies suing other companies later for obvious things like "a portable entertainment device that plays back music and video" or "a user interface featuring clickable button-like objects".


macrumors 6502
Oct 29, 2008
What a waste of time!

Apple might be better spending their time improving the sound quality in their portable players. IMHO, the sound quality has gradually deteriorated in each generation. Compared with my old iRiver player or my son's old iAudio, the sound quality is poor, even using expensive Shure earphones or Sennheiser headphones. An optical out, again like my ancient iRiver, would be nice, so that those of us who wanted to, could add a decent DAC into the equation. If my old H120 iRiver had a larger capacity and did not eat battery life, I would still be using it, rather than the 2 classic 80 gen. 5's I use at present.



macrumors 603
Feb 3, 2008
Essex (UK)
Wirelessly posted (Mozilla/5.0 (Linux; U; Android 2.0.1; en-gb Build/unknown) AppleWebKit/530.17 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/4.0 Mobile Safari/530.17)

A media payer that learns what I like? Fantastic idea! The power consumption options are genius too.


macrumors 68000
Oct 30, 2002
San Diego, CA
Instead of this, why don't they implement a quality sound check (automatically adjust the song playback volume to the same level). Right now iTunes supports this option but it doesn't work very well. I've used third-party utilities that work amazingly well, but Apple's version seems to be pretty brain dead. This not only affects the iTunes player, but the iPhones, iPods, and Apple TVs. I'd be happy to use the third-party tools, but I still have a fair amount of protected/DRMed content that can't be sampled for volume control by third-party utilities.


Nov 25, 2005
What about doing something useful

I'd like something useful, like changing the rating from 0 to 5 stars to 0 to 100 points instead. Then have a playlist where songs are picked at random, but preferring higher rated ones so they get played more often. And the real kicker would be ratings for two or more people tracked independently. What else...

Make it possible to have a song in two encodings simultaneously but appearing only once, so I can have the same song in lossless for my home system and in 128KBit AAC for my iPod. Or in MP3 format to burn MP3 CDs for the player in my car. And why doesn't "Burn MP3 CDs" convert automatically from AAC to MP3? Adjusting the bitrate so everything I want on the CD will fit?


macrumors 65816
Dec 29, 2007
The video one is sweet. This would be a welcomed addition. Great if you really want to watch the entire move or for kids to give them extended battery life to get you home on a plane. Movies are the only that work for plane trips.


macrumors 6502a
May 3, 2009
London, UK
I voted this as negative.

I have a wide variety of musical tastes, and just because I rarely listen to a song, it doesn't mean I never want to listen to it.

As the previous poster said, I don't like machines making decisions on my taste for me.

Doctor Q

Staff member
I do. Any software that tries to be "helpful" based on past behaviour tends to get it completely wrong and ends up very annoying.
I think there are two ways product developers can avoid this:

1. Do a fantastic job at mind-reading. Example: When you misspell a word in a Google search, even leaving off the first or last letter, it usually figures out what you mean. If, instead, it was correct 50% of the time it might be more annoying than helpful.

2. Suggest answers or actions but don't force them on users. Example: The idea in this patent to make song titles smaller if they don't get played very much still leaves users with the choice of playing them, with the more "popular" songs simply easier to spot. On the other hand, skipping the first part of the song, without your permission, is going to be royally annoying when it's not wanted, so offering you a choice would make more sense, if they can do this without cluttering up the interface.
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