June 27, 2013
Apple’s upcoming iTunes Radio service is likely to wow the masses. After all, who doesn’t like “free” music? Still, the streaming music service isn’t exactly packed full of innovative features. That could one day change, however, if some of the features noted in Apple’s patent application for iTunes Radio are actually released to the public. According to the filing, which the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office published today, June 27, key features were either left on the cutting room floor, or are being held back by Apple. Among these is the ability to customize an upcoming track list. This feature enables users to manipulate the next five songs in the queue using drag-and-drop tools. “Like” and “dislike” buttons aren’t exactly new. However, Apple’s application envisions a system that takes using these buttons to the next level. Users can indicate why they like or dislike a song by selecting a reason via a pull-down menu, or other means of input. Apple uses this information to show how the rating would affect future song choices in a playlist. Apple’s application also notes a users’ ability to change a song’s metadata file, and what this change would mean to future playlists. Finally, the patent application envisions a crowd-sourced music discovery component. With it, users would be able to upload their playlist to the music service, and compare it to the track lists of others. Based on these comparisons, a user could decide whether to add a song to their own playlist. These features, of course, may never arrive on future versions of iTunes Radio. In fact, some of these may have already been shot down by the music industry, hence the reason Apple didn’t announce them in the first place. Nonetheless, they do show that Apple has bigger plans for iTunes Radio that perhaps was originally believed. This patent was first filed by Apple in December 2011. It credits Sharon E. Friesen, Jorge S. Fino, and Jason A. Skinder as its inventors. As a reminder, iTunes Radio launches later this fall via iOS 7 and OS X Mavericks. For more information on iTunes Radio, see: To Pay Or Not To Pay: Apple Details iTunes Radio Royalty Terms For Record Labels, Op-Ed: Is That The Best You Can Do, Apple? Limitations Could Mean Doom For iTunes Radio, and Comparing iTunes Radio To Pandora, Spotify And Other Streaming Music Services.