updated 11:41 am EST, Tue January 21, 2014
Playlist tech could switch between media sources
The US Patent and Trademark Office has granted Apple a patent for a idea called "auto-station tuning," notes AppleInsider. The technology would automatically generate media playlists based on user preferences. While similar in concept to the current Genius function in iTunes, the patented idea would allow playlists to switch between sources such as FM/satellite radio, live TV, and Internet stations, instead of focusing exclusively on locally-stored content.
The criteria for switching sources could vary significantly, one example being when an ad is detected on radio or TV. Underlying it all would be a procurement engine, fetching metadata such as artists, genres, and keywords, or more technical criteria like volume levels.
Apple has also won a patent on a new form of trackpad that would do away with an integrated button and replace it with pressure sensors. Most trackpads with integrated buttons have a simple on/off state, in which the pad has to pivot to "click." A pressure-sensitive pad would eliminate the need to pivot, and enable more complex interactions, above all triggering different results based on the degree of pressure. Force feedback and/or sound effects could be used to signify clicks or unrelated events, such as new email.
The proposed pad might moreover save space in future hardware, since there wouldn't be any room needed for the pivot function. The patent dates back to 2009; Apple hasn't integrated it into any MacBooks, preferring to stick to a mix of buttons and capacitive sensors.