Apple patent hints that the company is considering a network-attached storage device

Apple has been granted a patent (number 9,118,642) by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office that hints at an Apple NAS device/home server I've long wanted. The patent is for "asset streaming." NAS — or network-attached storage — is a computer data storage server connected to your computer network that provides access to a wide variety of data.

It involves a device that streams assets to network-based storage, and servers administering the network-based storage operate to notify other authorized devices that the assets are available to download, including initiating the download of assets automatically or in response to user input. With streaming enabled on their device, a user is able to make assets, such as digital photograph, video or other type of media file, data file, or other type of electronic content, available immediately to all of their other devices and to other users having permission to follow assets streamed by their device. 

According to the patent, servers secure access to the stream of assets, on both an account level and an asset level in accordance with asset metadata registered for the assets during streaming. Of course, this would be great for serving up movies, music and photos to all your Mac OS X and iOS devices.

But Apple could take it further. Imagine a range of "iServe" appliances, all based on the Mac mini form factor, that provide media services throughout your home, that are always on, and worked with Siri, Apple’s voice-activated, personal assistant. The media sever would store all your photos, movies, TV shows, music, and more and make them available to all your Macs, iOS devices, and the Apple TV.

Will Apple release its own NAS device? Perhaps. However, the company has filed for and/or been granted multiple patents over the years that hint at a media server, but such an Apple-branded device has yet to see the light of day.