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There are rumors that Apple is working on its own Internet radio/streaming music service. A new Apple patent (number 8280863) may add some weight to the rumor.
The patent is for real-time or near real-time streaming with compressed playlists. It involves methods and apparatuses that provide real-time or near real-time streaming of content using transfer protocols such as an HTTP compliant protocol. In one embodiment, a method includes providing a request for a playlist file (e.g. an updated playlist) and specifying a compression protocol with or for the request; the request can come from a client device which is requesting the playlist from a web server. The web server can provide the playlist in a compressed format.
Here's Apple's background and summary of the invention: "Streaming of content generally refers to multimedia content that is constantly transmitted from a server device and received by a client device. The content is usually presented to an end-user while it is being delivered by the streaming server. The name refers to the delivery method of the medium rather than to the medium itself.
"Current streaming services generally require specialized servers to distribute "live" content to end users. In any large scale deployment, this can lead to great cost, and requires specialized skills to set up and run. This results in a less than desirable library of content available for streaming.
"In one embodiment, a method includes providing a request for a playlist and specifying in the request that the playlist can be compressed, and receiving, in response to the request, the playlist in a compressed form if a server can provide the playlist in the compressed form (otherwise, the playlist can be provided by the server in uncompressed format).
"The playlist can be compressed (also referred to as encoded) using a compression technique or format supported by an existing HTTP standard compression technique such as deflate or gzip. The sending and receiving of the playlist in a compressed format can significantly reduce the size of the data being transmitted and received, especially when the playlist grows over time (e.g. the playlist is for a long baseball game).
"In one embodiment, the use of compression for a playlist can be optional for both the client (the system requesting the playlist) and the server (the system responding to the request by sending the playlist). The use of a compression technique or format that is part of the HTTP standard allows any compliant web server to be able to supply a compressed playlist and any compliant client will also be able to decompress and use the playlist.
The inventors are Roger Pantas and James David Batson.