updated 01:40 pm EDT, Thu July 31, 2008
Apple FM/TV receiver?
Apple may be looking to build or support new add-ons capable of streaming radio and/or TV to its handhelds, a new patent application suggests. The device would attach directly to a handheld such as an iPhone or iPod, and pick up signals from one or more formats including AM, FM, HD or satellite radio, or TV standards such as cable, satellite, over-the-air or IPTV. More conventional reception means could include Wi-Fi, cellular or Ethernet.
Add-ons could take several forms, such as a simple portable plug-in, or else more elaborate options like a dock, stereo or a full-blown computer. The key Apple invention is the concept of a "tag" button, which would let people pull down metadata on whatever they're receiving, such as the artist and track for a song, or the episode, actor and director information for a TV show. In some instances the information could be location-based, through some form of GPS support.
By syncing tags with a handheld, the notion is that an add-on could then produce information usable elsewhere, such as shopping at an online store like iTunes, or generating a personalized webpage. It is suggested however that the technology may also be used receiving things like maps and restaurant menus, and serving advertisers, who could exploit tagging to deliver customized marketing.
Apple's hardware concept bears some resemblance to an upcoming PacketVideo product called the PV, which should be able to attach to the iPhone and iPod touch to deliver TV by converting WiMAX TV broadcasts into regular Wi-Fi signals.