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Beta iPhone firmware code points to iTunes control

updated 07:20 pm EDT, Sun April 27, 2008

iControl for iPhone

Apple may be preparing to add iPhone (and iPod touch) functions to connect to and play media from nearby iTunes sources. Citing an "anonymous tipster," TUAW reports that code found in the latest firmware release points to a new iPhone application called iControl, which it says could be part of Apple's own plan to release new software applications based on forthcoming iPhone SDK. Based on strings found in the code of the latest private iPhone firmware beta, the application would allow users to connect to shared iTunes library running on a PC to playback songs or view videos. According to the report, the media navigator will allow users to view videos, play podcasts, listen to music and even support shuffle playback from the iTunes library. If true, iPhone and iPod touch users would not only be able to playback media from their device, but may also be able to actively control iTunes installed on a PC.

Users could potentially direct playback of iTunes to any of its sources, including local speakers or other wireless speakers (connected via AirPort Express).

Effectively turing the mobile device into a remote control, iControl may be the client application cited in a patent filing revealed in April of last year that mentions using a "mobile phone" to serve as a remote control for a PC and also another iPod wireless remote patent filing revealed last July.

While the former also covers the Cupertino-based company's own Front Row Remote, it leaves room for other Bluetooth-enabled devices, such as a mobile phone, "to serve as a remote controller for a Macintosh computer," Apple wrote. "This solution requires installation of software on the mobile phone as well as the computer."

The latter patent, originally submitted in December 2005, would let a wireless portable media player synchronized with a server and tell that server to play files based on metadata such as the song name, album, or genre; the server in turn relays its sound to a stereo or a TV using either a wireless method such as the company's AirPort Express audio output feature or a direct, wired connection.

While the evidence of iControl was found in the latest firmware, it is unknown whether Apple will deliver, if at all, the iPhone application along with the new iPhone SDK and enhanced software expected in June.

by MacNN Staff



  1. danviento

    Joined: Dec 1969



    I seem to remember there being an app out there that allowed control of your Mac (not PCs, though) from an iPhone or iPod touch via AJAX networking connections.

    Here's Remote Buddy'sİ site:

    Anyone see some issues with the patent?

  1. Comanche Zen

    Joined: Dec 1969


    AppleTV - not iTunes

    It would make eminently more sense to use an iPhone to control an AppleTV (itself running a flavor of the iTunes code base) than to control iTunes on a Mac or PC. And it would sell more AppleTV's, too...

  1. hypermark

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Interactive Program Guide

    I keep thinking that there are all sorts of value added ways that you could combine remote control and interactive programming guide in the iPhone/iPod touch environment.

    Specifically, (from my post), 'iPod touch: the first mainstream Wi-Fi mobile platform?':

    About 15 years ago, Interactive Network was service that allowed you to participate in an interactive fashion with TV game shows and sporting events. Unfortunately, it was pretty limited and required that a special hardware box with a dedicated phone line be connected to your TV. Plus, no one knew what the h*** interactivity meant since the Web was still pretty nascent, so it failed. But with an iPod touch, an interactive TV programming guide application becomes possible that allows you to systematically interact with your favorite TV programs (think: sports, game shows, finance, reality TV, etc.) and connect with others who are watching the same program - in real time.

    In any event, it seems beyond the universal remote goodness that there are applications for such content-aligned services (listen to the same music show with virtual friends, watch DVDs and apend them with smart/social bookmarks that others can pull up when they watch the same movie, be virtual DJ for an audience of like minds, etc.).

    Here is the full post if interested:




  1. awggondzur

    Joined: Dec 1969


    my wish list idea

    I always thought a "killer app" function to add to the iPhone/iPod touch would be the ability to link to your distant at home Mac, and browse/download your iTunes library, effectively circumventing the capacity restrictions of your iPhone/iPod. I think that users would go freakin crazy to be able to access/listen to or view their favorite content from wherever they are, instead of the current compromise, of "oh yeah, I have that song/movie/tv show, but not with me" :-( How many posts have you read like "I can't wait until they double the capacity of the hard drive/flash drive so I can carry my entire "fill in the blank" library. With wireless and/or cellular links to my home computer/itunes library, I've truly got it all! Please, make it so.

  1. UberFu

    Joined: Dec 1969


    pc meaing.....

    Personal Computer !!

    This was not a Mac vs Windows issue !!

    Apple Computers are a class of Personal Computers or Micro Computers in the grand scheme of computer categorization_

    So Yes - when Apple files a patent it will refer to the term PC in reference to a personal computer to encompass all in that computer classification that it's patent will intereact with_

  1. UberFu

    Joined: Dec 1969


    @hypermark ?

    doesn't that play out in the X-Box Live or PS3 communities where at least with gaming they have live chat and can interact with the same content at the same time?

    Not sure about the tagging and social boomarking aspect - but I'm sure that's just waiting on how the copyright wars of late will play out_

  1. UberFu

    Joined: Dec 1969


    iTunes Control...

    it would definitely be nice to be able to skim thru my iTunes Library visually and not have to sit at the computer_

    I have an Apple Remote - but it does at times make me feel like I have an iPod Shuffle_

  1. testudo

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Re:appletv, not itunes

    It would make eminently more sense to use an iPhone to control an AppleTV (itself running a flavor of the iTunes code base) than to control iTunes on a Mac or PC. And it would sell more AppleTV's, too...

    Not really, since more people use iTunes (and have it running in other rooms from their entertainment systems/speakers) then run an AppleTV

    And few people are going to buy an AppleTV just because their iPhone can now surf through it. Esp. since it still requires a PC to work for most of your media/content that you'd still want to surf through.

    But all this sounds like is iTunes Sharing capabilities added to the iPhone, plus some applescripts to control iTunes.

    Of course, with all the "Could"s in the article, it may be nothing like this, but Apple's way of controlling everyone's use of their iPhone. Or, even more likely, using iTunes on the phones to take control of iPhone owner's minds, thus creating an army of iPhone wielding zombies to crush all resistance and finally put Steve Jobs in power as the leader of all the world.

    Of course, the fanboys will just ignore the obvious and start hyping up "Wow, it'd be like a real remote control for the AppleTV or Mac!"

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