Apple granted a patent for a ‘TV side bar user interface’

Apple has been granted a patent (number 10,200,761) for a “TV side bar user interface” that may involve an interface for its upcoming video streaming service. Or it could involve features of its TV app on iOS devices. Or both.

In the patent filing, Apple notes that, for years, broadcast television was the sole provider of video content to viewer's homes across the globe. As time has passed, and particularly with the advent of the Internet, numerous other sources of video content have arisen. In addition to broadcast television, cable television and satellite based television providers have begun providing access to video on demand and other audio and video content. 

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In addition, special purpose set-top boxes provided a gateway for viewer's to access other sources of video content not provided by their television service provider. With such boxes, viewers were able to connect to these other content providers in order to obtain desired video content. Presently,, there are countless video providers in the marketplace. In addition, music and other audio content is available through various communication channels. Many are subscription based services, and some provide free content. 

While the explosion of video content providers in the marketplace may seem a boon for viewer's, the large number of choices and providers complicates the viewing experience.  Which is why Apple thinks that improved media content delivery systems, methods and mechanisms are needed. 

Here’s Apple’s summary of the invention: “Systems and methods for a media content user interface. A media content provider includes storage for storing and serving video content to subscribers. The media content provider records and or otherwise stores video content from around the world. Subscribers are provided a user interface to the system that includes a side bar. The side bar includes multiple elements representing different categories of video content. 

“By selecting a given category, available content is filtered according to the selected category and presented. Content which is presented may include live broadcast video for multiple channels on multiple television networks or other content providers. The side bar may further include a collection category specific to a given viewer. Selection of such a category may display video content within the collection. Subcategories in the side bar may be selected for further filtering of available content.”

Of course, Apple files for — and is granted — lots of patents by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. Many are for inventions that never see the light of day. However, you never can tell which ones will materialize in a real product.