Apple has been granted a patent (number 8099665) by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office for “organizing and sorting media menu items.” It hints at a) the rumored Apple HDTV (the “iTV”), b) an Apple TV (the set-top box) update, or c) both.

The patent is for a method of organizing episodic content that includes identifying a list of items associated with episodic content and sorting the list of items based on at least episode order upon a prompt. The inventors are Rainer Brodersen, Rachel Clare Goldeen, Jeffrey Ma, Mihnea Calin Pacurariu and the late Steve Jobs.

Here’s Apple’s background and summary of the invention: “Media devices, such as digital video and audio players, can include multiple functions and capabilities, such as playing stored content, browsing and selecting from recorded content, storing and/or receiving content selected by a user, and the like. These various functions can often be grouped according to content types, e.g., movies, music, television programs, photos, etc., and accessed through a user interface. The user interface can include both graphical and textual features.

“It is desirable that the user interface conveys information to the user in an intuitive manner. However, current media devices often present the information in a poorly organized manner, and do not provide the capability to reorganize the information according to one or more aspects related to the information.

“Disclosed herein are systems and methods for organizing menu items. In one implementation, an interface environment includes a menu arranged in the interface environment, the menu including a list of menu items associated with episodic content. The interface environment further includes a sort interface arranged in the interface environment, the sort interface being configured to receive a selection and to sort the list of menu items based upon the selection. The selection is operable to request sorting based upon at least an episode order.

“In another implementation, instructions provided on one or more computer readable media are used to cause a processor to perform the operations comprising: generating a choice of sort options for a plurality of menu items associated with episodic content, the sort options comprising at least an episode order sort option; receiving a selection of the episode order sort option; sorting the menu items based upon an episode order in response to receipt of the selection of the episode order sort option; generating a menu comprising a list of menu items based upon the sorting of the menu items; and, presenting the menu arranged within an interface environment.”