While talk of a standalone Apple television has died down over the summer thanks to the upcoming next-generation iPhone and iPad mini, a recently awarded patent sheds some light on Apple’s plan for the space.

Patently Apple says a patent, originally filed in 2006 just before the introduction of what is now known as Apple TV, shows a set-top box working directly with cable television and providing DVR functions.

Also included in the patent are numerous examples of the channel navigation and other television menus. Plans for an iPod-looking control device are also specified.

It’s unknown whether the awarded patent will ever be part of any future Apple product, but it does show that the company has been thinking about improving the television interface for quite some time.

Speculation of a standalone television set from Apple began almost a year ago. After Steve Jobs’ death, his official biography quoted the Apple founder saying the company “finally cracked” the problem of creating a strong television interface.

A report from The New York Times added fuel to the fire saying the TV set was indeed real and would be announced before the end of 2012.

The last strong news about Apple’s plans was a report in late May saying that supplier Foxconn was producing a small batch of TV sets in a trial production run. But since then, the rumor well has been mainly dry.

Source: Patently Apple