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Patents relate to Apple TV updates — and perhaps its future

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Three Apple patent applications at the US Patent & Trademark Office tie in with Wednesday’s Apple TV announcements and may point to future developments. They describe methods to improve the experience of over-the-air syncing, and browsing of Internet-based content.

Patent number 20080301260 is for a method and user interface for accessing groups of media assets. Improved systems and methods to navigate, browse, search and/or playback digital media assets (e.g., media items) hosted on a media server are disclosed. One embodiment of the invention pertains to a user interface arrangement, such as a hierarchical menu system, that facilitates navigation, browsing and playing of media items remotely stored on a media server.

The user interface arrangement enables user scrolling or browsing with respect to a list or set of information pertaining to media items, where the list or set can be expanded to include information for additional media items that are subsequently acquired. The user interface arrangement can also present and permit navigation of categorized media items. The user interface arrangement can be presented on a display device associated with a client device. In one embodiment, the display device can be a television and the client device can be an electronic apparatus that can couple to the media server via a network. The inventors are Rachel Clare Goldeen, Jeffrey Ma, Michael Margolis, Rainer Brodersen, Calin Pacuraiu and Jeffrey L. Robbin.

Apple patent number 20080301167, by the same inventors, is for a method and user interface for searching media assets over a network. Improved systems and methods to navigate, browse, search and/or playback digital media assets (e.g., media items) hosted on a media server are disclosed. One embodiment of the invention pertains to progressive searching of remote media items from a search user interface. Another embodiment of the invention pertains to a user interface arrangement, such as a hierarchical menu system, that facilitates navigation, browsing and playing of media items remotely stored on a media server.

The user interface arrangement can present and permit navigation of categorized media items. The user interface arrangement can also present and permit navigation of media items related to another media item (such as a media item that has been selected and played). The search user interface can, but need not, be part of the user interface arrangement. The user interface arrangement and/or the search user interface can be presented on a display device associated with a client device. In one embodiment, the display device can be a television and the client device can be an electronic apparatus that can couple to the media server via a network.

Apple patent number 20080301739, also by the same inventors, is for a hierarchical user interface for accessing related media assets. Improved systems and methods to navigate, browse, search and/or playback digital media assets (e.g., media items) hosted on a media server are disclosed. One embodiment pertains to a user interface arrangement, such as a hierarchical menu system, that facilitates navigation, browsing and playing of media items remotely stored on a media server. The user interface arrangement can present and permit navigation of media items related to another media item (such as a media item that has been selected and played). The user interface arrangement can also present and permit navigation of categorized media items. Another embodiment relates to progressive searching of remote media items from a search user interface. The search user interface can, but need not, be part of the user interface arrangement. The user interface arrangement and/or the search user interface can be presented on a display device associated with a client device. In one embodiment, the display device can be a television and the client device can be an electronic apparatus that can couple to the media server via a network.

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