The folks at Appleinsider are reporting that a 24 page patent filed with the USPTO could allow wireless streaming of content from an iTunes library to an iPhone.
Describing a method that stores only metadata on the iPhone, users would be able to sync a small amount of information that references a whole lot — the entire contents of your iTunes’ libraries. While storing actual media on an 8 or 16GB iPhone offers extremely limited capacity, just accessing references to the media would only take up a fraction of the space.
The possibilities of such integration is vast, allowing anything from remote management of one’s iTunes library to the peer-to-peer connection of iPhones to one another.
One of the authors of this current patent, David Heller of Apple, is credited with a similar patent from 2004 (see diagram above), which reads:
A client requests media information from a server so the client can create a local representation of the server’s database. The client is then able to manage the media information locally. When the client selects the desired media, it requests the selection from across the network. The server then delivers the selected media.
The patent also references “thick” clients (e.g. iTunes running on a Mac) and “thin” clients (e.g. hardware devices w/limited memory/storage, i.e. iPhones), noting that, “Thick clients can choose to retrieve a complete representation of the server’s available media, while thin clients may choose to retrieve a partial representation of the server’s available media,” and specifically cites “metadata” as a component of that “partial representation.”
While all of this is fine and dandy, and considering that the former patent has been in effect since 2004, it remains to be seen if and when Apple will implement such a feature.