On June 10, 2013 Apple introduced a peek at iOS 7 and one of the highlighted features was their new iTunes Radio service. Today, the US Patent & Trademark Office published a patent application from Apple that reveals that they've been seriously working on this project since December 2011 – though there's evidence dating the project back to at least 2010. Revelations found in our report today cover such matters as dynamic playlists, a user feedback system, an easy drag and drop feature to readjust playlists quickly and more including eight detailed patent figures clarifying many of the noted features.
Apple's Patent Background
Nearly everyone has access to digital media these days. People own digital audio devices that store digital music libraries containing thousands of music tracks. Users often listen to music streamed over the internet. Often these devices and technologies allow users to automatically generate playlists or radio stations based on a representative music track, artist, genre or other user-specified criteria. As music tracks are played from the playlist or radio station, user feedback can be received for a music track. The user can indicate whether the user likes or dislikes a music track and the user's likes or dislikes can cause an adjustment in the playlist or radio station criteria that effect which music tracks are played in the future.
In some implementations, a user can play a music track from a dynamically generated playlist. The user can provide input indicating that the user likes or dislikes the music track and the playlist can be adjusted based on the user input. In some implementations, information can be presented to the user so that the user can preview changes to the playlist before the changes are made to the playlist. In some implementations, a user can adjust playlist criteria (configuration) by adjusting specific music characteristics. In some implementations, a user can adjust playlist criteria by manipulating a list of representative music tracks. In some implementations, a user can compare the user's playlist to playlists of other users.
Particular implementations provide at least the following advantages: A user can easily preview changes to a playlist and avoid changes that can negatively affect the playlist. The user is given greater control over playlist criteria and the music tracks associated with the playlist.
Apple's iTunes Radio: Dynamic Playlists
Apple's patent FIG. 1 illustrates a system for generating dynamic playlists. In some implementations, a user can play media associated with a playlist on a playback device such as a laptop computer, desktop computer, handheld music player, a smartphone, a tablet computer or any other device that can be configured to play back music media.
In some implementations, the playlist can be generated locally on a playback device. For example, the playlist can be generated by music engine 104 based on a digital music library that is stored on or accessible to playback device. For example, the music engine 104 can be a media application on playback device that manages and plays music associated with playlists. The media library can include a collection of music tracks that can be associated with a playlist and played on playback device.
In some implementations, the playlist can be generated at music service 108. For example, the music service can be an Internet-based service and music tracks can be selected for the playlist by the music engine and can be streamed from the music service over a network to playback device.
The music tracks for the playlist can be identified by music engine 110 by matching the playlist criteria to characteristics of music tracks stored in a music database 112 or music library. In some implementations, the music database can store music characteristics associated with music tracks. In some implementations, the music database can store playlist configuration for multiple users. For example, the music database can store playlist criteria for multiple playlists associated with multiple users.
In some implementations, a playlist (or radio station) can be a dynamically and/or automatically generated sequence of music tracks. The music tracks can be selected for the playlist based on user-specified criteria. In some implementations, a user can select a music track and the music track can serve as a basis for creation of the playlist. For example, the music track can have a certain set of characteristics (e.g., fast tempo, country genre, string instruments, melodic lyrics, etc.) and the characteristics of the selected music track can be the criteria by which future music tracks are selected for the playlist. The playlist can be dynamically generated.
For example, the playlist does not have to be a discrete set of music tracks. Music tracks can be added and removed from the playlist in real-time based on the playlist criteria. For example, as a current music tracks is being played, the next music track (or the next five music tracks, next ten music tracks) can be selected and added to the playlist queue and automatically played when the current music track ends.
Apple's iTunes Radio: Receiving User Feedback
Apple's patent FIG. 2 noted below illustrates an example graphical interface for playing media from a playlist using a play button. In some implementations, the iTunes Radio UI will be able to display album art associated with the current tune being played. The iTunes Radio UI may also include a progress bar 206 and indicator 208.
In some implementations, the iTunes Radio UI will be able to skip to the next music track in the playlist using element 210. Graphical element 212 can be selected to cause a playlist configuration interface to be displayed. At the bottom of the iTunes Radio UI is a music track list 214. For example, the music track list can be a list of the next five music tracks that will be played in the playlist. As each music track in the music track list is played, a newly selected music track can be added to the playlist which includes album art icons.
Apple's iTunes Radio UI may also include graphical elements 216 and 218 for allowing a user to provide feedback regarding the user's impression or opinion of the currently playing music track. For example, a user will be able to select the iTunes Radio UI Like-Button (+) to indicate that they like the tune and the Dislike-Button (-) if the user dislikes the chosen tune found on the iTunes Radio play list.
For example, if a user indicates that thy dislikes a music track, the criteria by which music tracks are selected for the playlist will be adjusted so that music tracks having similar characteristics to the disliked music track will be less likely to be selected for playback in the future.
If the user indicates that the user likes a music track , then the criteria by which music tracks are selected for the playlist will be adjusted so that music tracks having similar characteristics to the liked music track will be more likely to be selected for playback in the future.
Quickly Drag and Drop Songs in a list you want to Hear Sooner
In some implementations, a user can manipulate the music tracks in the music track list. For example, the user can select a music track (e.g., icon) in the music track list and delete the music track from the music track list. The user can perform a drag and drop operation on a music track in the music track list to rearrange the order of the upcoming music tracks in music track list. For example, if a user sees a music track in the music track list that the user really likes, the user can drag the music track to the front (e.g., left end) of the music track list to cause the music track to be played sooner than the other music tracks in the music track list.
Confirming Changes to Playlist Criteria
Apple's patent FIG. 3 illustrates an example iTunes Radio UI for confirming changes to a playlist. For example, the UI can be displayed in response to the user selecting either the Like or Dislike buttons. In some implementations, the iTunes Radio interface may include information area or window as presented as patent point # 302 below and highlighted in yellow. The information area can display information describing what effect the user's selection will have on the selection of future music tracks for the playlist. Information area can describe the characteristics of the liked or disliked music track and indicate that music tracks having similar characteristics are more likely or less likely to be played in the future.
In some implementations, the iTunes Radio interface will include graphical element 304, a pull down menu, for indicating a reason why the user likes or dislikes the music track. The user can select one of the reasons from list 306 to indicate the reason why the user likes or dislikes a music track. The user's chosen reasons for liking or disliking a music track can be uploaded to the iTunes Radio music service 108 and can be used to modify the classification or characteristics of the music track stored in music database. For example, if the user selects "wrong genre" as a reason why the user dislikes a music track, the music track can be flagged at the music service so that the characteristics associated with the music track can be reevaluated and adjusted in music database.
Apple's iTunes Radio may also include a quicker method for killing a tune in the form of a "Cancel" button. Another button that might be implemented on the iTunes Radio interface is that of # 310 representing "This Song Only" for deleting tunes. There's also a possible "Preview" button as noted above as # 314. For example, when a user selects Preview, a detailed preview of adjustments that will be made to the playlist will be presented.
Apple's iTunes Radio: Adjusting Track Characteristics
Apple's patent FIG. 4 below illustrates an example iTunes Radio UI for editing the characteristics of a music track. For example, the iTunes Radio UI can be displayed in response to selecting the "Edit Track Characteristics" button noted in FIG. 3 above.
In some implementations, a user can change characteristics of a music track by adjusting graphical elements 404-414 which will correspond to music characteristics such as pitch, rhythm, dynamics, timbre and texture. A slider UI element 404 can correspond to the tempo (e.g., speed or pace of the track), for example. If the user believes that the tempo value currently assigned to the music track is not accurate, the user can adjust it to represent their opinion of the track's tempo.
Other music characteristics can be adjusted by manipulating graphical elements 404-414. For example, characteristics associated with the feelings invoked in the user by a music track can be represented and adjusted by graphical elements 404-424. These characteristics can correspond to a mood invoked in the listener (dark, light, joy, sadness, etc.), for example.
In some implementations, iTunes Radio's UI can include graphical element 418 for resetting the characteristics of a music track. For example, if the user has made adjustments to the track's characteristics on the iTunes Radio UI, then they will be able to reset the music track's characteristics back to their previous values.
Apple's iTunes Radio Preview
Apple's patent FIG. 5 illustrates an example iTunes Radio UI for presenting a preview of changes to a playlist. For example, the UI can be presented in response to a user selecting graphical element 314 of FIG. 3. The iTunes Radio UI can present a preview of changes to a playlist that will result from a user expressing or indicating a liking or disliking for a music track, for example.
About the Patent Figures Below: FIG. 6 illustrates an example graphical interface for viewing and manipulating playlist criteria; FIG. 7 illustrates an example graphical interface for comparing users' playlists; and FIG. 8 illustrates an example graphical interface for presenting detailed playlist comparison information.
Apple credits Sharon Friesen, Jorge Fino, and Jason Skinder as the inventors of patent application 20130167029 which was originally filed in Q4 2011. Other related patents include: One, two. Apple has fulfilled several patents regarding their new iTunes Radio service.
A Word about Continuation Patents
It should be noted that the US Patent and Trademark Office did in fact publish a series of older continuation patents today dating back to between 2004 and 2011. The continuation patents listed below are specifically referenced as such under the section titled "Cross-Reference to Related Applications." Generally speaking, this type of patent application contains modifications that Apple's legal team have made to the original patent claims in an effort to have the US Patent Office finally approve their invention.
In general continuation patents don't represent any new developments from the original patent filing. Some websites mistakenly report on continuation patents as if they were new Apple filings to which they are not. A case in point this morning is the Apple Daily Report on Peek Mode which we point to below (as # 05) as a continuation patent and not one that is new.
Here are the continuation patents that were published today by the US Patent Office:
01. 2007 Patent: DISPLAY DEVICE CONTROL BASED ON INTEGRATED AMBIENT LIGHT DETECTION AND LIGHTING SOURCE CHARACTERISTICS
02. 2008 Patent: WIRELESS HANDHELD ELECTRONIC DEVICE
03. 2008 Patent: LOW-PROFILE WIDE-BANDWIDTH RADIO FREQUENCY ANTENNA
04. 2010 Patent: MULTI-PEEK MODE TABLET DEVICE
05. 2010 Patent: TABLET DEVICE WITH PEEK MODE OPERATION
06. 2010 Patent: ILLUMINIATION OF INPUT DEVICE
07.2004 Patent: MEDIA MANAGEMENT SYSTEM FOR MANAGEMENT OF GAMES ACQUIRED FROM A MEDIA SERVER
08. 2008 Patent: DISFAVORED ROUTE PROGRESSIONS OR LOCATIONS
09. 2009 Patent: SYSTEMS AND METHODS FOR DETERMING THE LANGUAGE TO USE FOR SPEECH GENERATIED BY A TEXT TO SPEECH ENGINE
10. 2010 Patent: METHOD AND ARRANGEMENT FOR SUPPRESSING DUPLICATE NETWORK RESOURCES
11. 2005 Patent: MULTI-MEDIA CENTER FOR COMPUTING SYSTEMS
Patently Apple presents a detailed summary of patent applications with associated graphics for journalistic news purposes as each such patent application is revealed by the U.S. Patent & Trade Office. Readers are cautioned that the full text of any patent application should be read in its entirety for full and accurate details. Revelations found in patent applications shouldn't be interpreted as rumor or fast-tracked according to rumor timetables. About Comments: Patently Apple reserves the right to post, dismiss or edit comments.
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