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Apple patents iNanny for iPods

Apple patents iNanny for iPods

iPods: soon to limit enjoyment of music, for your own safety. Nanny Apple knows best, children.

It’s long been Apple’s secretly held opinion that users can’t be trusted. That is, after all, why the iPhone is a locked-down platform, and why the iPod is so intrinsically tied in to the iTunes platform - but now it seems that Apple are keener than ever to regulate every facet of your iExperience, as revealed in a European patent application.

The patent covers a system to calculate a “maximum volume parameter” during “the playing back of the media by the media player” based on the volume the player was set to while “playing back of audio media during a time period prior to executing the maximum volume refining step.”

For those who don’t speak Patentese, it’s a system to figure out how long you’ve been listening to music and at what volume before telling you to “turn that racket down” in the form of an automatically enforced drop in maximum volume. Don’t think that turning the iPod off and back on again will help you, either: the patent also covers a way to figure out “the amount of 'quiet time' between when the iPod is turned off and when it is restarted”, and if that doesn’t fit in with Apple’s idea of a decently long break you’ll still be stuck in ‘whisper’ mode.

It seems that Apple thinks that iPod owners are too dumb to set a sensible volume level. After an initial raft of lawsuits in the litigation-hungry United States Apple introduced the ability to set a user-configurable maximum volume limit on your iPod. Apple had protected themselves against lawsuits with the “but we gave you an option” defence, and users everywhere just ignored the ‘feature’. Everyone was happy.

If this patent were granted it’s quite likely that it would become a mandatory feature of the ubiquitous player, at least in the US. Personally, I prefer my MP3 player to be a little more rock ‘n roll and a little less preachy.

Should we think of the children, or should big business keep its nose out of your Spinal Tap-esque habits of turning it up to 11? Let us know via the forums.

20 Comments

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Arkanrais 26th December 2007, 12:26 Quote
yet another reason to add to the list of why I hate despise iPod's. On the odd occasion I'm roaming around outside, I like to have my mp3 player constantly at full volume with the volume controls being half way along my headphone cord, and usually have the headphones around my neck. the few times that I do put my headphones over my ears is when someone starts trying to strike up a conversation when I don't want to talk (which is most of the time when I'm busy), or when biking a short distance (can't drive - need to get my eyes fixed).
DXR_13KE 26th December 2007, 12:55 Quote
it is insane the amount of kids that are becoming deaf because of their mp3 players around here......
Sark.inc 26th December 2007, 13:11 Quote
Honestly, i can't blame them. :\
Zurechial 26th December 2007, 16:25 Quote
This 'feature' seems to assume that the iPod will only ever be used with headphones going directly from the device to your ears.
So what about those who connect their iPods to the 'aux-in of their car radio? Or those who connect their iPods to their home entertainment systems through a mixer where the device-output-volume should preferably be as loud as possible without clipping?

A short-sighted idea that will annoy people more than help them, I feel.

And yet, while I disagree with this as an enforced 'feature', the fact of the matter is that the vast majority of people simply do listen to their iPods (or other audio devices) at ridiculous volumes, heedless of the damage they're doing to their own ears or the annoyance they cause to others in their vicinity.

This, coupled with using crappy, tinny in-ear headphones such as those bundled with the iPod and which deliver ridiculous amounts of useless, high-energy, high-frequency content to the ears during normal use lead me to believe that the incidences of middle-age deafness and other hearing problems are bound to soar within the next decade if not sooner.

I don't like the idea of an enforced system such as this, but then again, people have proven time and again that they're stupid and ignorant when it comes to matters of long-term health.

Smoking, alcohol-abuse, drugs, over-eating... music-abuse?
noobarino 26th December 2007, 16:56 Quote
stupid Americans trying to sue everyone. look what you've done
Herbicide 26th December 2007, 17:11 Quote
Waitaminute, they've patented normalisation?

VLC has had that for ages.

</nanny-stateism>

- H.
Tomm 26th December 2007, 21:06 Quote
Quote:
If this patent were granted it’s quite likely that it would become a mandatory feature of the ubiquitous player, at least in the US.

Where did you get that from? It seems reasonably that Apple (being as they are in the audio game) might be working on this kind of system, and it therefore seems reasonable that they would patent it. It is a somewhat large leap of logic to assume that it will definitely feature on future iPods, and a bigger leap to assume that you won't be able to turn it off. I'm not going to call for Jobs' head at least until this is actually 'enforced'.

Besides, since I only listen to my music for short periods of time anyway, I very much doubt whether this would affect me.

It's interesting to note that in patent-speak, they call it "the iPod" which is A Good Thing. I'm sick of hearing about 'iPod' as if he's a person.
Duste 27th December 2007, 09:50 Quote
I personally feel this was need. I can't even begin to count the number of times I've been able to hear other people's crappy music blasting from their iPods as clear as day because they're too stupid to have it at a reasonable level.
rhuitron 27th December 2007, 11:46 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by noobarino
stupid Americans trying to sue everyone. look what you've done


Freakin A, No joke!
I hate this hyper paranoid, bunch or conniving *******s!
What happened to logic and ethic? :(
adam197 27th December 2007, 12:04 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tomm
Where did you get that from? It seems reasonably that Apple (being as they are in the audio game) might be working on this kind of system, and it therefore seems reasonable that they would patent it. It is a somewhat large leap of logic to assume that it will definitely feature on future iPods, and a bigger leap to assume that you won't be able to turn it off. I'm not going to call for Jobs' head at least until this is actually 'enforced'.

I agree, and I have to say that's possibly the worst article I've read on here.
Glider 27th December 2007, 12:12 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by adambrennan
I agree, and I have to say that's possibly the worst article I've read on here.
Well, what's the use of developing something (investing money in it), patenting it, and not using it? All fanboyism put aside, it seems reasonable that when a company invests in something, it will use it some day...

But I think Apple should invest in developing a decent earphone that sends the music inwards instead of outwards... Freaking hate it when I'm forced to listen to the newest junk music on the bus because someone who thinks he's cool sits 10 rows behind me...
mrplow 27th December 2007, 12:15 Quote
Hm.. yeh that's a pretty dumb article.
Loads of products already have AVL systems, notably most sony portables. Generally you can turn it off if you really want to go deaf when you're older. Plus iPods already have a 'MVL' system, whereby you can set a maximum volume lower than the ultimate maximum. This isn't all that different to that, except someone at the factory will be deciding instead of you.
xion 27th December 2007, 13:24 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Duste
I personally feel this was need. I can't even begin to count the number of times I've been able to hear other people's crappy music blasting from their iPods as clear as day because they're too stupid to have it at a reasonable level.

It's not media players that bother me, its phones... why do people insist on playing "Chav FM" at full volume on theit mobiles wherever they are??? The real need is to ban external speaker routing of music on phones!!! [/rant]
mrplow 27th December 2007, 13:37 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by xion
The real need is to ban external speaker routing of music on phones!!! [/rant]

Oh God yes.
adam197 27th December 2007, 15:05 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Glider
Well, what's the use of developing something (investing money in it), patenting it, and not using it? All fanboyism put aside, it seems reasonable that when a company invests in something, it will use it some day...

You may be surprised at the number of patents Apple (among other companies) hold and do not currently use for one reason or another.

I never said this technology wouldn't ever be used, but the article is using pure speculation to attack Apple. I'm not entirely sure what the article is supposed to achieve.
Glider 27th December 2007, 15:21 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by adambrennan
I never said this technology wouldn't ever be used, but the article is using pure speculation to attack Apple. I'm not entirely sure what the article is supposed to achieve.

Where is it attacking Apple? Because it states:
Quote:
It’s long been Apple’s secretly held opinion that users can’t be trusted. That is, after all, why the iPhone is a locked-down platform, and why the iPod is so intrinsically tied in to the iTunes platform

? Well, I 100% agree to this... iPhones and iPods aren't your property IMHO, you can only use them trough ways Apple wants.

Or maybe this?
Quote:
It seems that Apple thinks that iPod owners are too dumb to set a sensible volume level. After an initial raft of lawsuits in the litigation-hungry United States Apple introduced the ability to set a user-configurable maximum volume limit on your iPod.

It clearly is formulated as a conclusion the author makes, and tells more about the US legal system then Apple...

A little off topic: I do agree that the band wagon people who jump onto the iPod float are quite dumb... IMHO iPods are plain ugly, overpriced and totally not userfriendly...


But please, point me out to the grusome attacks towards Apple that are unfounded in your eyes...
adam197 28th December 2007, 10:12 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Glider
Where is it attacking Apple?
First sentence.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Glider
iPhones and iPods aren't your property IMHO, you can only use them trough ways Apple wants.
Of course the iPhone locking has absolutely nothing to do with protecting network providers investments in the iPhone, along with potential security issues.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Glider
A little off topic: I do agree that the band wagon people who jump onto the iPod float are quite dumb... IMHO iPods are plain ugly, overpriced and totally not userfriendly...
Just as well you are also a global multi-award-winning designer as well then isn't it? Also, as an owner of a 1st generation iPod and Apple shareholder (personal jibe dodged there I think), I have to disagree that the millions of people buying one of the most popular and recognisable products are 'dumb'.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Glider
But please, point me out to the grusome attacks towards Apple that are unfounded in your eyes...
Can't see where I included the word gruesome in my reply, but hopefully things are a bit more clear now.
Glider 28th December 2007, 10:51 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by adambrennan
Also, as an owner of a 1st generation iPod and Apple shareholder (personal jibe dodged there I think), I have to disagree that the millions of people buying one of the most popular and recognisable products are 'dumb'.

I rest my case...
adam197 28th December 2007, 14:02 Quote
Good stuff.
The_Beast 28th December 2007, 18:24 Quote
there are some pretty dumb people out there
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