updated 11:55 am EDT, Thu August 7, 2008
Remote iTunes streaming?
Apple handhelds may in the future be able to stream content from a remote iTunes library, a newly-published patent application indicates. Titled Remote access of media items, the filing describes a system in which handheld owners would be able to access audio, video and photos over a network. Unlike the current iTunes sharing scheme, however, people would also be able to access games, and reach everything over the Internet, whether through wired, Wi-Fi or cellular networks.
Files accessed from a handheld would be listed as if they were stored locally -- creating what Apple calls "virtual capacity" -- and sorted with standard metadata, such as artist, title and ranking. The concept could even be applied to work between handhelds, echoing the "squirt" function used by Microsoft's Zune players. Zune tracks, however, can only be shared for a short amount of time before the second copy is automatically deleted.
The patent could represent an extension of Apple's Remote app, which lets iPhone and iPod touch owners control a local computer's iTunes library. If the technology were to appear in the near future, it would most likely arrive in September with the anticipated iPod refresh.