The US Patent and Trademark Office officially published a series of twenty-nine newly granted patents for Apple Inc. today. One of the key patents published today covers a major patent win for Apple TV, the set-top-box. Apple's patent clearly shows that Apple TV was and/or is going to work with cable TV and provide PVR like features. Whether Apple TV will ever make the leap to being a fully advanced iOS based Smart TV is unknown at this time – though it certainly would be a way to get under Samsung's skin. That's reason alone for Apple to move into this market. Only time will tell. Read this report's important update that just came in (August 15, 2012 at 8:22PM).
Apple Granted Major Apple TV Patent
Apple has received a Granted Patent relating to a video device which displays video in one of a plurality of contexts in an onscreen display area. In response to the menu command, the video device generates a menu overlay within the onscreen display area while maintaining the video within the menu overlay, and generates within the menu overlay a context icon based on the selected context.
Apple's 2006 patent filing clearly illustrates that Apple TV was or is to work with regular cable TV. The patent figures clearly show ABC, Fox channels and so forth. Apple TV was and/or is to be able to record TV shows. Advanced Set-top-Box features for Apple TV would be a welcomed addition to the current iteration of Apple TV, one being it could act as a high-end PVR. Just recently Apple added access to Hulu (in the US only), which illustrates that Apple TV continues to be a mystery project in progress.
Apple's patent FIG. 6 is an example network environment; patent FIG. 14 is a screenshot of video data including a record icon; and patent FIG. 17A is a screenshot of video data displayed in a video environment and includes an example channel navigation menu.
Apple's patent FIG. 21 is a screenshot of another example channel navigation menu; and patent FIG. 31 is a screenshot of video data including further search results menu items displayed in the search navigation menu.
Although there are some that doubt that Apple will ever actually sell an HDTV version of Apple TV, our Apple TV related archives continue to show that Apple is working on LCD technology for TV's as well as a host of other advanced technologies including 3D. And with Microsoft eyeing TV as the next device to offer video conferencing for the family, Apple will have to eventually offer FaceTime. To do it right, Apple will integrate iSight into an HDTV system. I highly doubt that Apple will want to sell a clunky iSight camera to sit on top of your current HDTV.
Yet at the end of the day, it's still a hobby project for Apple and it's hard to get too ahead of the curve here. Whether Apple TV will simply advance as a set-top-box or make the leap to a full tilt HDTV is still unknown at this time.
Apple credits Rainer Brodersen, Rachel Goldeen, Mihnea Pacurariu and Jeffery Ma as the inventors of this patent which was originally filed in Q4 2006 and published today by the US Patent and Trademark Office.
Report Update August 15, 2012 8:22 PM MST
The Wall Street Journal is reporting this evening that Apple "is in talks with some of the biggest U.S. Cable operators about letting consumers use an Apple device as a set-top-box for live television and other content, according to people familiar with the matter."
Jessica Vascellaro and Shalini Ramachandran go on to report that "the talks represent Apple's most ambitious crack at infiltrating the living room after years of trying."
You'd almost think that I had some inside track on the matter to dramatically end our report. Then again, one never knows.
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