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

MacRumors

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Apr 12, 2001
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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.

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

dethmaShine

macrumors 68000
Apr 13, 2010
1,697
0
Into the lungs of Hell
To be honest, I have very big hopes from Apple this year.

iTunes Streaming
Netflix like service
iDisk capabilities
iOS 5.0
Mac OS X Lion
Complete Sync across all devices
Apple TV

WWDC is going to be huge this year.
 

mainstreetmark

macrumors 68020
May 7, 2003
2,229
293
Saint Augustine, FL
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...)
 

MorphingDragon

macrumors 603
Mar 27, 2009
5,160
5
The World Inbetween
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...)
Its essentially a file cache on your media player though. Web browsers already do this, partially or completely store website assets to speed up loading.
 

pmjoe

macrumors 6502
Mar 27, 2009
458
31
It's called a freaking CACHE file. Can we please put an end to these ridiculous software patents!!!
 

macsmurf

macrumors 65816
Aug 3, 2007
1,199
529
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...)
It seems all they do is to make a buffer on the hard drive instead of in RAM. Most OS do this already when they run out of memory.

If that's all it is, the patent is truly ridiculous. Next they'll try to patent hyperlinking. Oh wait, Lodsys already did that.
 

BJMRamage

macrumors 68020
Oct 2, 2007
2,433
860
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.
 

ArtOfWarfare

macrumors G3
Nov 26, 2007
8,559
3,966
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...
 

Gregintosh

macrumors 68000
Jan 29, 2008
1,777
416
Chicago
Not bad! If this can let me store ALL my music in the cloud not just iTunes purchased stuff this system would work phenomenally well.

Maybe they will scan the hard drive, detect which songs were ripped from an original CD and give you access to those as well. Hmmm...

Rather than taking up 12GB on every device I own, I could devote maybe 2 or 3GB of space to things I listen to all the time and these snippets, and stream the rest. With a MacBook Air that has limited hard drive space, this could be an extra useful feature!

The fact that they used "3G" as the minimum connection speed indicates that they primarily see us using this on the go. I wonder what the bandwidth implications will be with mobile data plans!

This definitely shows some out of the box thinking, as usual for Apple. Unlike Amazon and Google.
 

Sedulous

macrumors 68020
Dec 10, 2002
2,325
1,573
No thanks. I don't find buffering to be a considerable problem and rather reduce the bloat already included in iTunes.
 

dustinsc

macrumors regular
Nov 21, 2009
226
52
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.
 

baryon

macrumors 68040
Oct 3, 2009
3,387
1,046
I still don't get this streaming thing: why would I want to stream anything when I can already store all my music on my iPod? Streaming is only good if you want to access content that you don't already own, such as YouTube videos. Otherwise, for music you already have, what's the point?

I mostly use my iPod on the plane a lot, I don't want to be unable to "stream" my music at a high altitude.


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.
Why not use an iPod...?
 

Gregintosh

macrumors 68000
Jan 29, 2008
1,777
416
Chicago
I still don't get this streaming thing: why would I want to stream anything when I can already store all my music on my iPod? Streaming is only good if you want to access content that you don't already own, such as YouTube videos. Otherwise, for music you already have, what's the point?
If you have let's say a 16GB iPod Touch or iPad, and you have a 10GB music library, maybe 20GB of TV shows and Movies, and 2GB of Apps, you are going to have to pick and choose what you store locally.

Right now, if you uncheck them, you have no access to them at all on the go. So the one album you thought you'd never listen to remains on your computer while you are on vacation wishing you had access to it right now.

This way, you can store locally all the stuff you know you are going to listen to or use all the time. Then for the other stuff, rather than being out of reach, you can stream it online. But instead of jumping through hoops, you do it all seamlessly from the same interface and let the device figure out how to get to this content.

These days, and going forward, internet access is pretty ubiquitous. It's very easy to find a Starbucks anywhere in the US, and Wi-Fi spots are plentiful too. Not to mention many people are now getting onto 3G and 4G internet access via Mi-Fi's or built-in access.

Basically, connectivity is going to rarely be a problem for most people.
 

Trius

macrumors 6502a
Aug 7, 2008
843
102
Wirelessly posted (Mozilla/5.0 (iPhone; U; CPU iPhone OS 4_3_2 like Mac OS X; en-us) AppleWebKit/533.17.9 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/5.0.2 Mobile/8H7 Safari/6533.18.5)

Pffff... iPod is so 2000's...
 

0815

macrumors 68000
Jul 9, 2010
1,731
776
here and there but not over there
Maybe this is another of those things forced on Apple by the Music Labels during negotiation to sort of ensure that the user owns the music and is not just sharing the 'login' with all of his friends .....
 

DotCom2

macrumors 601
Feb 22, 2009
4,100
2,343
I am curious to know how many people actually are excited or would even use cloud streaming of their music? :confused:
This just seems so Meh to me.
I store locally and hence, have no problems.
Are you excited about cloud streaming music?
 

css1323

macrumors regular
Jul 15, 2008
124
10
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.
Why not use an iPod...?
There's an app for that. (lol, wanted to say that)

I use the Audiogalaxy app quite a lot on my iPhone to stream music that's stored on my hard drive at home. Just install the Satellite software on your PC (which has a very small footprint) and check which folders you want scanned, it'll even read most iTunes playlists you got saved.

While it doesn't work 100% (still needs work, but developers are constantly pushing out updates), it's still really nice to use. You can see album artwork and everything which is nice. And it's free, so I'm just putting this out there.
 

Gregintosh

macrumors 68000
Jan 29, 2008
1,777
416
Chicago
I am curious to know how many people actually are excited or would even use cloud streaming of their music? :confused:
This just seems so Meh to me.
I store locally and hence, have no problems.
Are you excited about cloud streaming music?
I am just excited for MobileMe to be revamped. I really, really hope it becomes free at a basic level so I can keep my e-mail going without paying extra. That's my #1 priority.

Or if it continues to be a paid service, that it gives me enough cloud storage that I can back up my iPhoto, iTunes, and important Documents seamlessly like DropBox.

Worst case scenario for me: MobileMe continues to be paid, does not offer true cloud integration. Then I may get stuck paying for that and Dropbox.
 

kalsta

macrumors 68000
May 17, 2010
1,537
153
Australia
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.
That's it. Like it or not, that's the world we live in.

Its essentially a file cache on your media player though. Web browsers already do this, partially or completely store website assets to speed up loading.
Well, the technology might be the same, but that doesn't mean there's no inventiveness involved in applying it to remove the buffering of streaming media.

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...)
Indeed. If no one else is currently doing what Apple's patent describes, that's a fair argument against those who say it's nothing but an obvious application of existing technology.
 

phillipduran

macrumors 65816
Apr 30, 2008
1,019
603
I still don't get this streaming thing: why would I want to stream anything when I can already store all my music on my iPod? Streaming is only good if you want to access content that you don't already own, such as YouTube videos. Otherwise, for music you already have, what's the point?
I have thousands of songs. I have many of them on an old G5 that I haven't moved over to my new mac or to my iPhone. With streaming, everything gets moved into the iCloud and now I have access to all my songs across all my devices and computers (all devices with WiFi/data connections).

Instead of all my music in my pocket, I get to use Steve's pockets and Steve has big pockets. ;)