The assignee for this patent application is
Reporters obtained the following quote from the background information supplied by the inventors: "As digital media technology improves and the price of storage decreases, users increasingly host collections of digital media (for example, audio, video, images, graphics, and like) on their personal computers and/or network-based data storage services. But users often desire for their digital media collections to be portable. More and more, users seek to transfer all or some of their collections to portable devices. Examples of portable devices include but are not limited to personal media players, personal digital assistants, phones, portable computers, in-vehicle devices, and other devices.
"With the advent of relatively high capacity storage on portable devices, users can store large quantities of media content on their portable devices. The process of transferring media files between a host computer and a portable device is termed synchronization. For example, the media transfer protocol (MTP) may be combined with the AutoSync.RTM. functionality of Windows Media Player.RTM. to accomplish synchronization.
"Synchronization is often performed using a wired connection between a portable device and a host computer. For example, in the most common implementation of MP3 players and other related digital media playback devices, the content is placed on the device using a wired USB or 'Firewire' IEEE 1394 cable. Certain devices have also implemented wireless data transfer methods using 802.11 'WiFi' connections or Bluetooth. For example, some portable devices allow wireless communication between multiple portable devices or between the device and a web-based service. However, the information exchanged is generally limited to downloads of commercial paid content from a proprietary store, or exchange of information of how to download a particular song from the proprietary store between two paying subscribers. 'Podcast'-style periodic episodic content is generally not supported by such systems.
"Other systems include the Windows Mobile.RTM. operating system platform, which is available from
"In particular, users employ a GUI supported by a display screen that is incorporated into the player in order to configure the wireless configuration, although a primary function of such a GUI is to navigate among various menus to make selections of media content, control operation of the portable device, set preferences, and the like. The menus are organized in a hierarchical manner and the user will generally interact with user controls (e.g., buttons and the like) to move within a menu and jump to different menus to accomplish the desired functions.
"As portable devices accumulate more onboard storage and support more features and functions, the GUIs needed to control them have often become larger and more complex to operate. For example, some current media players can store thousands of songs, videos, and photographs, play content from over the air radio stations, and enable shared experiences through device-to-device connections. Navigating through such large volumes of content and controlling the user experience as desired can often mean working through long series of hierarchical menus. And when such GUIs are also employed to configure other utility functions, such as wireless connection configurations, user operations may often be complicated."
In addition to obtaining background information on this patent application, VerticalNews editors also obtained the inventors' summary information for this patent application: "In one aspect, arrangements are provided which employ the rich user interface of a host computer to configure a wireless portable device's network connection parameters. The arrangement may employ a radio on the portable device to help locate nearby accessible wireless networks, and partial configuration information may be returned to the host computer using a wired connection in order to assist in the process of completing the device's wireless configuration process of the portable device.
"In a further aspect, once a synchronization relationship between the portable device and a media library on a host computer is established, periodically updated content, such as podcasts, may be discovered and subscribed to using software on the host computer, and the content synchronized with the host computer.
"In yet another aspect, a portable device may manage episodic content, such as podcasts. In particular, sufficient information may be provided to a portable device to allow for management of the subscription and download of periodic updates of the content using the device's own wireless connection, with no explicit need for the host computer to procure ongoing content updates from the publishing source, which is usually located on the internet. This aspect may allow for one or more of the following features to be provided. The portable device, having received a subscription from the media library of the host computer, may be enabled to unsubscribe from the content and stop further periodic updates, without input from the host computer. This information may then be transmitted back to the host computer during the synchronization process. The device, having received podcast episodes from the host computer, may send those episodes wirelessly to another device, and the recipient of those episodes may choose to subscribe to that content themselves from their device user interface. In some implementations, this feature may be limited to devices within a certain family, such as those of a particular model or type. All information necessary to subscribe or unsubscribe to the series, such as the Uniform Resource Locator (URL) to the podcast's 'RSS' file, which is a file of XML-formatted data describing the series and its episodes, may be transmitted between the two devices, or between devices and their associated host computer.
"In an aspect related to wireless podcasting management, the user's subscription data (including but not limited to: which series to subscribe to, how often to check for new episodes, which episodes have been consumed already, bookmarks into partially-consumed episodes, the order in which to play back episodes, and so forth) may be stored in a single user profile stored on a web server associated with a user login or identity. In this way, a variety of possible playback devices (host computers, MP3 players, multipurpose gaming consoles such as the Xbox 360, etc.) may use this single web-based data store to determine what actions to take locally in order to have the current state of all user subscriptions. Such actions could include downloading local copies of series episodes from the original publisher, deleting episodes which can be determined to have been completely consumed elsewhere using another device, beginning playback at an updated location due to prior consumption activity, adding new subscriptions, or removing subscriptions to which the user unsubscribed by using another device.
"This Summary is provided to introduce a selection of concepts in a simplified form. The concepts are further described in the Detailed Description section. Elements or steps other than those described in this Summary are possible, and no element or step is necessarily required. This Summary is not intended to identify key features or essential features of the claimed subject matter, nor is it intended for use as an aid in determining the scope of the claimed subject matter. The claimed subject matter is not limited to implementations that solve any or all disadvantages noted in any part of this disclosure.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
"FIG. 1 shows a portable device that is operatively coupled to a host computer and where the host computer is connected to a media content delivery service over a network such as the Internet.
"FIG. 2 is a simplified block diagram that shows various functional components of an illustrative example of a portable device.
"FIG. 3 is a simplified block diagram that shows various physical components of an illustrative example of a portable device.
"FIG. 4 illustrates a simplified functional block diagram of an arrangement for wirelessly synchronizing media and subscription content, showing in particular the wired and wireless system architecture.
"FIG. 5 illustrates a synchronization setup process in which a portable device may be configured by the host computer with a WiFi networking configuration profile, allowing the same to connect to the host computer using the wireless network.
"FIG. 6 is a flow chart describing an arrangement for wirelessly managing content on a portable device, as well as for sharing content between devices.
"FIG. 7 is a schematic diagram depicting components in an arrangement in which multiple associated devices, including portable devices and host computers, may be synchronized to a central user profile.
"FIG. 8 is a flowchart describing exemplary steps that may be employed in the arrangement of FIG. 7.
"FIG. 9 is a simplified functional block diagram of an exemplary configuration of an operating environment in which the arrangement for wirelessly synchronizing media and subscription content may be implemented or used.
"Corresponding reference characters indicate corresponding parts throughout the drawings."
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