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Apple Filing Hints at Remote iTunes Access via iPhone

  • Posted: Monday, August 11, 2008
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  • Author: pradhana
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  • Filed under: iPhone, iTunes

By Jason Ankeny

A forthcoming Apple software update could enable iPhone and iPod touch users to remotely access their home computer's entire iTunes media library without traditional synchronization, according to a new filing uncovered by AppleInsider.

The 24-page United States Patent and Trademark Office filing, credited to Apple employees David Heller and Thomas Mavrakakis, notes that at present, downloading media items from a computer to a media player is a time-consuming process limited by the device's storage capacity; new versions of iTunes and the iPhone Software propose to eliminate the problem by synchronizing only the metadata, not the content itself, from iTunes to the device.

The metadata--which requires only a fraction of the space necessary to store the media itself--would translate on iPhones and iPods as "virtual media items" representing playlists, videos, photos and mobile games: Instead of accessing the files directly from the device, the iPhone or iPod would employ a wired, WiFi or cellular connection to remotely access and retrieve the media items from a user's Mac or PC. "As a result, the user perceives that the virtual media items may be available on the (the media player)," the Apple filing notes. "In this manner, the virtual capacity of an electronic device may be increased."

The same protocols would enable users to manage their iTunes libraries remotely, adding and deleting files while on the move. The device will constantly monitor all processes against problems or fading signals, and pause or cancel data transfers as warranted. The Apple filing adds that the software update would also enable iPhones and iPods to communicate with one another.

"In the peer-to-peer environment, one mobile device can communicate with one or more other electronic devices (whether mobile or stationary) in the immediate vicinity," the filing states. "Data sharing can be performed when such communication is available."[FierceMobileContent]

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