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A new patent (number 20120290792) at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office shows that Apple is working on further ways to extend battery life in iPhones, iPods and iPads . The patent is for a media device with intelligent cache utilization.
A portable media device and a method for operating a portable media device are disclosed. According to one aspect, a battery-powered portable media device can manage use of a mass storage device to efficiently utilize battery power.
By providing a cache memory and loading the cache memory so as to provide skip support, battery power for the portable media device can be conserved (i.e., efficiently consumed). According to another aspect, a portable media device can operate efficiently in a seek mode. The seek mode is an operational mode of the portable media device in which the portable media device automatically scans through media items to assist a user in selecting a desired one of the media items.
Here's Apple's background of the invention: "Media players are becoming more popular these days. Of particular popularity are portable media players such as MP3 players or DVD players. Media players operate to play media items for their user that are stored within the media players. The media items are most commonly audio items (e.g., songs) but could also be video items (e.g., DVDs).
"Typically, an MP3 player will store various audio items internally on a storage disk. When the user makes a selection to play one of the stored audio items, the audio item must first be loaded into semiconductor memory (i.e., Random-Access Memory) before the audio item begins to be played. The delay in reading the rather large file for the audio item is unsatisfactory to users who are anxious to hear the audio item they have already selected to be played. Recently, advancements in MP3 players have enabled some MP3 players to begin playing an audio item before being completely loaded into semiconductor memory.
"Whenever a media item to be played is not stored within the semiconductor memory, the storage disk must be accessed. Unfortunately, storage disks are rather costly in terms of power consumption for small, battery-powered MP3 players. Accordingly, there is a need for improved techniques to reduce the need to access the storage disks of media players."
The inventors are Andrew Bert Hodge, David John Tupman and Guy Bar-Nahum.