Apple Planning to Sync Video Across Devices

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office posted on Thursday a very interesting application from Apple, one which shows that MobileMe could have far more in store than just personal info synchronization. Movie playback position syncing appears to be on the way, so long as this patent sees its way to fruition, which isn’t always the case.

media_sync_patentThe idea is that you could watch a show you downloaded via iTunes on your iPhone during your commute, and then pick up at home right where you stopped on your Apple TV or Mac computer. No searching for the spot where you left off, just a seamless transition from on-the-go to at-home media playback.

This suggests a move towards a more holistic view of data synched via MobileMe. iTunes Home Sharing is a step in the right direction, but imagine if you could play your entire library no matter where you were, and have playlist and playback position information synced across all your devices via MobileMe? Tell me I’m not the only one whose dream it’s been to someday listen to all of my music, from start to finish.

Not only does the patent allow for media syncing across devices, it also includes distance tracking, which would allow it to measure the proximity of devices to each other and sync your media information when two or more gadgets come within a certain range. Hopefully you won’t be near the end of the latest episode of “Dexter” on your iPhone when you walk through the door to find your wife just starting it on the Apple TV. Think of the spoiler potential.

What isn’t made clear in the patent is how media would be synced across devices. One would assume that some kind of network connection would be involved, but if proximity is playing a role, then Bluetooth is another potential prospect that doesn’t require an intermediary connection. Otherwise, Wi-Fi discovery over a shared network would be the best bet for communication between devices.

Yet another possibility is Wi-Fi Direct, the technology Apple recently threw its weight behind along with other industry heavyweights like Microsoft and Intel. In fact, I might even go so far as to say that this just-published patent application fits so perfectly with that emerging tech that the timing of both announcements seems like more than just a coincidence. Hopefully that means I’ll be syncing my Apple-based media wirelessly without even the requirement of network accessibility by mid-2010.

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