Apple patents iNanny for iPods

December 26, 2007 // 11:51 a.m.

Tags: #apple #deaf #health-and-safety #ipod #mp3 #patent #rights #software #software-patent #volume

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.
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