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Apple Invents an Apple TV Remote GUI that could be Custom Rendered for Specific iDevice and Mac Displays

On October 2, 2014, the US Patent & Trademark Office published a patent application from Apple that finally reveals an Apple TV user interface that could be custom fit specifically for your particular iDevice or Mac display size. In 2012 we noted in a patent report that Apple hinted that Siri could be coming to iTunes. Apple notes in this patent filing that using your iPhone with the new Apple TV GUI could take advantage of speech which translates to using Siri. That would be very cool for searches and so forth. We've also noted in the past that companies like LG are now designing future smartphones with dual display so that users will be able to better enjoy Mobile TV services. If this is a future trend for the industry, then Apple's latest Apple TV related invention is step one in getting Apple TV onto mobile devices for future mobile TV services.


Apple's Patent Background


Many media devices utilize remote controls for browsing through and selecting content. However, known remote controls are too simplistic and are not user friendly. For example, common television remote controls are configured with up/down/left/right buttons, a selection indicator button, and maybe a keypad with numbers zero through nine.


This exemplary remote control was well suited for browsing old-fashion numerical list television programming structures. However, a new paradigm exists for the way media consumers explore media options. For example, a newly popular way to search for content is through text entry, which can be very time-consuming when using a simplistic remote control.


Mirroring a display of a media device onto another display of another electronic device can result in the poor representation of the content. For example, suppose a large screen television display can clearly display one hundred icons that are clear enough to decipher. The same one hundred icons mirrored onto the small screen of smartphone would clearly be indecipherable.


Alternatively, the smartphone could only view a small portion of the mirrored display at a time, but doing so is not user friendly. Mirroring technology does not adequately address the need for remote browsing of content.


Apple Invents a Next-Gen Apple TV Remote GUI


Apple's invention addresses the need in the art for allowing a media consumer to browse and control content on a display via the consumer's personal media device. The invention involves systems, methods, and computer-readable media for controlling a media device using another electronic device.


Apple's patent FIG. 1 noted below illustrates a system #100 for controlling a media device an Apple TV box using an iDevice like an iPhone or iPad #120. As illustrated in FIG. 1, Apple TV is configured for publishing media content in a Graphical User Interface #111 on a TV display #112. Apple TV can be controlled using a standard remote control noted as #114. However, as explained earlier in Apple's patent background, known remote controls are either too simplistic (e.g. up/down/left/right) and not well suited for certain actions (e.g. text entry) or are not user friendly. Accordingly, the present technology involves allowing Apple TV to be controlled using an iDevice.


Apple TV uses an application for playing content from a user library of content and for accessing media distribution platform such as the ITUNES and a user interface for Apple TV channels and services like Apple Events. By taking advantage of Apple's iOS, a user will be able to enter text faster on Apple TV using its virtual keyboard.



According to Apple, unlike display mirroring techniques, the iDevice will be able to render a native GUI specifically tailored to the device's form factor according to imposition and layout rules stored on the iDevice or remotely. For example, Apple TV box can be configured to render the Apple TV GUI for the TV display based on a form factor common to many television displays (e.g. 4:3 aspect ratio, 16:9 aspect ratio, etc.). However, many portable electronic devices involve a different form factor and can include different layouts or designs selected to increase user experience or increase cosmetic appeal. Thus, mirroring the form factor for the display 112 on an iDevice can result in a poor quality GUI experience. Apple's invention is able to convert the Apple TV UI that you see on your TV and customize the content so that it's easily browsable on your iDevice.


Apple's patent FIG. 3 illustrates an exemplary system 300 for providing a plurality of devices (iPhone 320, iPad 330 and MacBook Pro 340) the ability to receive media content information from Apple TV and render a native GUI for viewing the content on a specific device.



Active and Passive Modes


In Apple's patent FIG. 4 we're able to see the iPhone in both active and passive modes. The iPhone comprises a display displaying a GUI and a field for describing some or all of the content received by the iPhone from Apple TV.



In active mode, the GUI accepts inputs from a user, controls the locally rendered GUI on the iPhone and sends control signals to Apple TV in response to each input. Additionally, in active mode, the GUI displays a button for ending active mode which begins to operate in passive mode.


In passive mode, the GUI accepts inputs from a user, controls the locally rendered GUI on the device but doesn't actively send control signals to the media device in response to each input. Instead, the GUI displays a button #414 for pushing a control signal to the media device. As shown, the button is configured to instruct the media device to play media content associated with an icon having present focus. Additionally, the GUI displays a button 418 for ending passive mode' and beginning to operate in active mode.


Apple's patent FIG. 6 illustrates an exemplary system #600 for downloading logic from one or more external source that can be used to interpret unrecognized semantic information according to some embodiments of the present technology. The system uses iCloud, according to Apple, to authenticate the user who could then easily use Touch ID to order media content.



Lastly, Apple notes that to enable user interaction with the computing device can represent any number of input mechanisms, such as a microphone for speech (with Siri), a touch-sensitive screen for gesture or graphical input, keyboard, mouse, motion input, speech and so forth. Using Siri could be one of the key future inputs not emphasized enough in this filing. The use of motion in a remote was covered in an other patent that we link to below for 3D interaction. 


Patent Credits


Apple credits Thomas Alsina, Lucas Newman and Nicholas Paulson as the inventors of patent application 20140298414. This patent pending invention was originally filed in Q1 2013. Considering that this is a patent application, the timing of such a product to market is unknown at this time. Apple has a number of patents regarding future remote control features worth noting (One, two and three).


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