updated 11:12 am EDT, Tue April 9, 2013
Offline iTunes purchases could use credit system
Apple has won the rights to two more US patents, notes AppleInsider. The first, titled On-device offline purchases using credits, describes a system in which credits stored offline on a portable device could be used to buy content from iTunes. The credits would be bought either through the device itself or the desktop version of iTunes, which would also let people manage transferring credit to and from devices.
The credits would still be limited to an unusual situation in which people have a local copy of unauthorized media, but are unable to play it normally until it's purchased. Some restrictions that could be imposed are a limited number of plays, or reduced audio quality. Apple first filed for the patent in 2010; to date, the company has yet to move towards any sort of offline payment system, or reimpose any sort of DRM on music.
The second patent, Apparatus and method for interacting with handheld carrier hosting media content, talks about a form of wireless automatic file sync between two devices. A receiving unit, such as a Mac, would detect the presence of a host device such as an iPhone, and automatically start a file transfer if deemed appropriate. A given example is inserting a diagram into an email message; instead of having to connect the iPhone via a USB cable and/or sync it through iTunes, simply bringing it near the Mac would copy the diagram into the message.
To detect a host's proximity, the receiving device could rely on methods such as NFC, Bluetooth, a camera, or direct physical contact. Various software interfaces would be used to pick the media to share, and when appropriate, where to insert it. In all cases, the way media is handled would be context-sensitive. Like the offline purchase patent, the sync concept dates back to 2010.