Apple Reveals a Few Future CarPlay User Interface Features
On May 01, the US Patent & Trademark Office published a patent application from Apple that reveals possible future CarPlay user interface features. One such feature is a simple buy button allowing the passenger of the car to make a quick purchase of a tune heard on the radio. Although Apple doesn't mention it, I'm sure that they're working on a "Siri" voice command equivalent that wouldn't be distracting to the driver. Last week we learned that Apple invented a technology likely aimed at Carplay that will not allow a driver to text while their vehicle is running. REPORT UPDATED 8:45 PST: The report now extends to five Apple patents covering CarPlay and iTunes Radio.
Apple Advances CarPlay Functionality/Features
Apple's invention generally relates to streaming media and in particular to a user interface for streaming media with virtual playback. More specifically, Apple's invention covers future user interface features related to their new CarPlay.
Certain embodiments of Apple's invention provide user interfaces for a streaming radio system. The interfaces can replicate various aspects of more traditional experiences such as controlling a broadcast radio (e.g., AM or FM radio), listening to a jukebox, or the like.
For instance, an interface can incorporate a stations region in which stations are arranged in an array (e.g., a one-dimensional array such as a single row) of icons in a manner reminiscent of stations on a conventional broadcast radio tuner. If the number of stations defined for a particular user exceeds the available display area, the user can scroll the array to view and select additional stations. The radio GUI noted above is optimized for a touchscreen input/output device, and a user can invoke functionality of the radio GUI by touching relevant areas of the screen on which the GUI is displayed using a finger, stylus, or the like. In other embodiments, the radio GUI can be operated using a pointing device (e.g., a mouse, pen, or trackpad) or other input devices.
Apple further notes that a current station indicator, which can also be reminiscent of a station indicator of a conventional broadcast radio tuner, can be used to mark the current station and can scroll together with the array. When a user selects a different station as current (also referred to as changing the station), the current station indicator can move to mark the newly selected current station.
In some embodiments, some or all of the station icons can be "dynamic" icons that can appear to be playing tracks even while the corresponding station is not selected as current. This "virtual" playback can be achieved by presenting, within each dynamic icon, artwork and/or other identifying information representative of a specific track on a playlist associated with the corresponding station.
The artwork and/or other information is presented for a duration based on the duration of the specific track, after which the icon changes to display artwork and/or other information representative of the next track on the playlist associated with the corresponding station.
The station icon can also include a progress indicator (e.g., a countdown timer or progress bar) that indicates the time remaining until the next track change. In these embodiments, tracks can be, in effect, played, even if content for the track is not actually being streamed or presented to the user.
Now Playing & History Displayed
In some embodiments, the interface can also provide historical information about previously played tracks. For example, the interface can include a now-playing region and a history region adjacent to the now-playing region. The now-playing region can present identifying information (e.g., artwork, title, etc.) for the track that is currently being presented to the user.
The Old-Fashioned Jukebox Effect
The history region can present identifying information for tracks that were previously presented to the user. At the end of a track, an animated transition can be used to "move" the identifying information for the just-completed track into the history region and to "move" identifying information for the next track to be played into the now-playing region. The effect can be reminiscent of records dropping into place in an old-fashioned jukebox.
CarPlay's Edit Button
In Apple's patent FIG. 3 above, you'll notice towards the bottom area that there's an edit button #362. This new CarPlay UI button will allow users to bring up an interface for editing the station list and/or definitions of particular stations.
For example, actuating the edit button may bring up an overlay window or new screen (not shown) that allows the user to delete stations or rearrange the stations into a desired order. The editing interface may also allow the user to edit settings for a particular station, e.g., the currently playing station. For example, the user can adjust the station definition.
CarPlay's Buy Button
Scattered throughout Apple's patent FIG. 3 you'll see a "Buy" button #324 illustrated that we highlighted in green for moola. This button will allow the user to purchase the currently playing track on a radio station from Apple's iTunes store quick and easy.
In some embodiments, the buy button can display the actual price of the track. In other embodiments, the price can be displayed after the user actuates the buy button. The user may have to hit the buy button a second time to confirm the purchase and verify you didn't hit the button by accident.
Apple filed this particular patent application in July 2013 which is interesting because Scott Forstall, who is listed on the patent, left in October 2012. Technically speaking, this current patent (20140123005) is associated with a provisional application which was filed for in October 2012. It's likely one of the last projects that Forstall worked on before leaving Apple. Imran Chaudhri, Lucas Newman and Thomas Alsina were the other Apple engineers listed were listed as inventors.
A second patent related to the one we covered could be found here.
Apple's patent FIG. 11 noted above illustrates an interface that provides station creation and customization from a now-playing interface.
Apple's third patent in this group centers on iTunes Radio and you could read about it here.
Apple's fourth patent in this group titled "Station Fingerprinting" (which has nothing to do with human fingerprinting) could be reviewed here.
A fifth patent relating to CarPlay and iTunes Radio is titled "Dynamically Updating a Shared Radio Station." This patent could be reviewed here.
Considering that this is a patent application, the timing of these CarPlay features to market is unknown at this time.
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