updated 03:15 pm EST, Thu February 14, 2008
Apple Podmap Patents
Apple hopes to cement itself as the owner of a unique podcast concept that would serve as an alternative to GPS navigation, according to a just-published patent filing by the company. Describing the creation and management of map-based media, the invention would let users subscribe to map information in the same way they do with audio or video podcasts. The implementation would see an application or service turn map data into a series of audio and video elements based on location; driving directions and other maps could be spoken aloud with a view of the map at that location as a guide. Music, ads, and other content could play in between key points, with the amount of content in between calculated by the length of the expected trip.
Apple's technique is not dependent on local software and could process the information remotely, using RSS feeds to let users know when a customized map set is ready and automatically downloading it to software that syncs with a portable media player.
The company does not mention specific products as using the device but, through the name, suggests that podmaps would be ideal for both the iPhone and the iPod. Both currently lack native GPS navigation but could use podmaps as hard copies of directions when beyond the range of an Internet connection for supporting players. The iPhone and iPod touch both currently have mapping utilities through Google Maps but cannot cache map information for use while offline.
Apple also notes that the concept can also apply to running and other forms of exercise. At present, the firm offers audio podcasts in the Nike Sport Music section of the iTunes Store that achieve a similar effect but which are based only a fixed amount of exercise time rather than geography or visual information.