Next-gen Apple devices like Zune?

A patent request uncovered by AppleInsider suggests that subsequent generations of Apple's iPhone and iPod portable media devices may employ wireless networks to receive automated software updates and interact with other Apple devices within close range--a platform similar to technology introduced by Microsoft in conjunction with its rival Zune product. In a September 1, 2006 filing with the United States Patent and Trademark Office, Apple outlines "delivery of data to a portable electronic device from another electronic device" over a local wireless network. "In one embodiment, one mobile device discovers another mobile device within its vicinity," the filing continues. "The mobile devices can then wirelessly transmit data from one mobile device to the other. Typically, the mobile devices are associated with persons (users). The mobile devices, or their users, can control, request or influence the particular data content being delivered."

According to the filing, these devices would include a processor configured to discover, request and receive data from other electronic devices via wireless link. Beyond multimedia content including music, videos, photos and games, shareable data may include maps, user profiles and subscription content. "Users of data devices can also create and distribute content through data sharing," Apple writes. "The streaming can be limited so as to restrict the number of data devices simultaneously receiving the data. On the other hand, if the users of the data devices are subscribers to the streaming content (i.e., have a subscription), then the streaming can be unlimited as to subscribers." Premium audio and video could also be shared following purchase from a remote server.

The 37-page filing also details data transfer mediums including "Peer-to-Peer Data Sharing" between devices, "Local Data Sharing" over a local wireless network and a "Graphical User Interface" to facilitate delivery, exchange or sharing of data.

For more on the Apple patent filing:
-read this AppleInsider article

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