Apple Files Patent Relating to iPhone/iTMS Transactions
On February 1, the US Patent & Trademark Office published Apple’s patent application titled Configuration of a computing device in a secure manner . Apple’s patent describes the ability of a future wireless iPod and/or iPhone (simply noted as a cellular phone of course) being able to access Apple’s iTunes Music Store in a secure manner for the purposes of a device upgrade or commercial transaction. Admittedly the patent is a little confusing in that on one hand it appears that they could be describing a method relating to a third party cellphone such as Motorola’s ROKR, and on the other hand, there are services being described here that have never surfaced publicly. In the spirit of traditional Apple secrecy, this was likely Apple’s way of trying to hide the fact that they had a cellphone in production at the time of this application.
In accordance with a broad aspect, a method is provided to securely configure a computing device. A configuration indication is received into the computing device, including receiving a digital signature generated based on the configuration indication. Generation of the digital signature accounts for a unique identifier nominally associated with the computing device. The received configuration indication is verified to be authentic including processing the unique identifier, the received configuration indication and the received digital signature. The computing device is operated or interoperated with in accordance with the received configuration indication.
In one example, a service interoperates with the computing device. The configuration indication and digital signature are provided from the computing device to the service, and the service interoperates with the computing device in accordance with the configuration indication and the digital signature. For example, the computing device may be a portable media player, and the service may provide media to the computing device based on a capacity indication of the configuration indication.
It is desirable to securely configure a media player or other computing device via a service. Broadly speaking, in accordance with one aspect, the configuration operation is data-driven such that configuration data is provided to the computing device, as opposed to providing updated executable instructions to the computing device. A result of the configuration operation is to configure the operation of the computing device and/or configuring interoperation with the computing device.
Apple’s patent FIG. 1 illustrates an architectural overview of a system including a computing device 102 and a service 104. The computing device 102 may be, for example, a portable media player. The service may include a client device 106 executing a local application and interoperating with server functionality 108, such as a content server 110 and a commerce server 112, via a network 114 such as the Internet.
As shown in FIG. 1, the computing device 102 is connectable to the service 104 via a connection 116. It is via the connection 116 that the service 104 provides configuration data to the computing device 102. Particular mechanisms for providing and utilizing the configuration data are described with reference to later figures. However, in general, the computing device 102 provides a unique identifier to the service 104. For example, the computing device 102 may be a mobile telephone and the unique identifier may be a well-known Electronic Serial Number (ESN) or International Mobile Equipment Identifier (IMEI), hard-coded into a mobile telephone and by which the mobile telephone is uniquely identified.
Wireless iTune Music Store Services/Upgrades
Apple’s example of a high-level processing flow is described below in FIG.4 with respect to the service 104, to accomplish the song-holding capacity upgrade. At step 402, the upgrade process is initiated. For example, this may be a result of a user interacting with the media management application on the client computer 106. For example, the initiation may be a user activating a user interface item, such as clicking an icon.
In other examples, the user initiation may be as a result of interacting with an application on the computing device 102 to be upgraded. For example, the computing device 102 may be a mobile telephone that is configured to also operate as a portable media player. The user may interact with the portable media player application, which then wirelessly (e.g., via a cellular or other wireless connection) interacts with the service.
As another example, the initiation may be a result of the user attempting to perform an action for which the upgrade (or some other reconfiguration) is required. For example, the user may be attempting to download a twenty-sixth song into the portable media player computing device 102, where the data in the configuration is such that the song-holding capacity is twenty-five songs.
As yet another example, using the iPod/iTunes environment as an example, the upgrade may be initiated via a Music Store page accessed over the network using the iTunes desktop application. When the mobile telephone is connected to the desktop computer for the first time, the desktop application contacts the Music Store, which associates the phone with the user’s Music Store account. When the user subsequently visits the Music Store, the Store can display a button or link that the user can click to initiate the upgrade for the phone.
At step 404, a commerce transaction is performed with respect to the upgrade. Thus, for example, the user may provide a credit card number or otherwise indicate payment for the upgrade. For example, the user may have “song credits” or a prepaid card. At step 408, the service 104 operates to create the configuration file (with respect to the unique ID) indicating the upgraded song-holding capacity (or other upgraded features) as well as generating a digital signature for the configuration file as shown, for example, in FIG. 3-1. In some examples, information may be provided to the user regarding the configuration change, such as a warning that a higher capacity flash memory may be required to actually hold the higher number of songs.
Apple’s Patent FIG. 2 provides more detail of the interaction between the computing device and the service illustrated in FIG. 1. FIG. 6 illustrates an example memory organization of a computing device and FIG. 7 illustrates a failure/backup scenario.
Apple lists Christopher R. Wysocki and Alan Ward as the inventors of this patent.
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Written and researched by Neo.