Apple Inc. (Cupertino, CA)

New methods to use and manage a set of media objects (or media assets) on a computing device are described. This group of media items is able to be used and managed by host computers. It can also be utilized by a media device (e.g. media player) that can couple with the host computer. A playlist is a popular example of a group of media items. It is used to refer to audio tracks. One aspect pertains to providing a persistent media device playlist on a host computer. Another aspect is to limit the capacity of a playlist, such as a playlist for media. Another aspect is the use of graphical user interfaces which allows users to choose between the storage capacity of a media device between media asset storage and storage for data. Another aspect is related to a graphic user interface which assists the user in choosing media items to fill the media item group.

Field of the Invention

The invention relates to media devices and, specifically, the management of media stored on them.

Description of the Related Art

Media players store media assets, such as audio tracks or photos, that can be played and displayed on the media player. The iPod.RTM is a prime illustration of a. It is available at Apple Computer, Inc. located in Cupertino, California. A media player typically gets its media assets from a host computer that is used to allow a user to manage media assets. Media management software can be executed by the host computer to control media assets. An example of a media management application is iTunes.RTM., version 4.2, produced by Apple Computer, Inc.

Media files can be transferred between host computers and the media player with the using a drag and drop feature, or through an automatic sync once a bus connection over a peripheral cable connects the media player to the hostcomputer. Further information on automatic synchronization are provided in U.S. Patent Publication No. : 2003/0167318 A1, which is herein incorporated by reference.

In managing media assets, a user can create playlists for audio tracks. These playlists may be made on the host system. The playlists are able to be used to create media assets that can then be copied to the media player. The capacity for storage of the media players is usually greater than the amount of media assets available on the host computer. In such case the user of the host computer may select a specific subset of media assets on the host computer that will be copied to the media player. A user could, for instance, choose specific playlists that will be copied to media players after they are being synchronized.

A media player could be considered to be a source for media that can be used by an application for managing media as long as it is linked to the host machine. Media management software will show a visual representation of the media player after it detects the player. However, once the media player has been disconnected, the representation in visual form of the media player disappears. Hence, media assets, namely playlists of media assets, on the media player , can be managed atthe host computer only if the media player is connected to the host computer. The media player is not controlled by the host computer even if it isn’t connected to the host computer. This could be a problem for those who wish to control the media assets through the media player using the host computer.

There is a need to improve methods to make it easier to manage and utilization of media assets on media devices.

The invention is based on more efficient methods of managing a group or media objects (or media assets) and on a computing device. The media items can be used and managed on the host computer. It could also be utilized by a media device (e.g. media player) that can couple with the host computer. One popular example of a set of media items is known as a playlist. It could be a collection of audio tracks.

One of the features of the invention relates to creating a permanent playlist for a media device on the host machine. The persistent media device playlist is a dedicated playlist for the media device which can couple to the host computer. Another feature of the invention concerns the capability to limit the capacity of a playlist such as one that is a media playlist. Still another aspect of the invention is related to a graphic user interface that allows users to trade off the capacity of storage on a media device between storage for media assets and non-media storage for assets. Another aspect of the invention is a visual interface that allows a user to choose media items to fill an array of media items.

The invention may be utilized in numerous ways, including as a system, method device, device, apparatus (including GUI) or computer-readable medium. Below are various examples of this invention.

A specific embodiment of the invention is the following display of a playlist indicator on the host screen; showing a list of audio tracks within the media playlist on the screen checking whether the media player is linked to the host machine and updating the audio tracks on media devices once audio tracks have been removed or added to the media playlist.

Another version of the invention comprises managing a media playlist on a host machine and an device. It also comprises the following displays a media-playlist indicator on the host’s display and displaying an audio track representation on the screen; the entire audio track being saved locally on host computers as well as at the very least, some audio tracks on the device as well as managing audio tracks in the playlist of media by the addition or removal of audio tracks from or to the media playlist.

One example of the invention is a computer-readable medium which contains at least one computer-generated program code for managing a multimedia device media groups for use in a host and other media devices. It also contains computer code that shows a media gadget’s media grouping indicator a of the host computer’s screen as well as computer code that allows users to access the media item media grouping from their computer, regardless of whether or not the device is connected as well as computer code that update media items on the mediadevice once the user has added items to the media device or removed them

A computer-readable medium that contains many computer program codes for managing the media grouping that can be used on a server computer as well as a device is another embodiment of the invention. It also contains computer program codes that display a media grouping indicator on the host’s display as well as computer programcodes for displaying an image of the media items that belong to the grouping on the screen; the media items are locally stored on the host computer, and at the very least, some media items stored on the device and computer program code to manage media items in the grouping, by adding or recording

The following detailed description and the accompanying drawings will allow you understand the other features and advantages of the invention.

Click here to view the patent on USPTO website.


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