updated 04:20 pm EDT, Thu October 19, 2006
Apple Satellite Patent
Although Apple has previously dismissed deals with satellite radio providers, it continues to explore the technology on its own, as OrbitCast has discovered in a recent patent application. The filing (PDF), published October 19th and originally filed in August 2005, refers to two distinct methods of integrating the iPod with satellite services. The first aspect of the patent describes the ability to tune "into a wireless signal (e.g., AM FM radio, digital radio, or WiFi)" using an iPod-style player with "the capability to accept accessories to add the necessary functionality." While this may refer to Apple's Radio Remote released late in 2005, the patent's explicit mention of support well beyond AM/FM radio is significant and may signal a future add-on that would supply satellite radio directly to the iPod. Click through for details of the further satellite integration elements of the patent.
More important still is the description of how such accessories would share information between the iPod and external receivers. In another section of the patent application, Apple refers to an "in-vehicle receiver-player" that would connect to both a music player and an in-car network and synchronize track data between the two connected devices:
"If the in-vehicle receiver-player... is playing audio content that is received from a radio frequency broadcast (e.g., AM, FM or XM), the portable media device... is able to determine descriptive media information associated with the audio content being played," writes Apple.
As illustrated, the concept would let iPods not only display metadata from live radio (a feature already present in the Radio Remote) but would also let the user flag individual songs heard through these mediums -- including XM Satellite Radio -- for a later purchase through a "Media Purchase System" such as the iTunes Store.