Patently Apple today reveals a patent filed all the way back in 2009 that relates to Cloud music streaming with iTunes.  Calling the service “seamless and invisible to the user,” Apple details how the service picks the location to retrive data whether it is local or stored on a server.

The device could stream media files from a remote source (e.g., a content server operated by a content generator or a content sales point). To play back a remote media files, the electronic device could direct communications circuitry to establish a communications path with the remote content source. Once the communications path has been established, the content source could provide the requested media item to the device. Once the device has locally cached a sufficient amount of the media item, the electronic device could begin streamed media playback.

So, that means Apple could decide to store the beginning of a song, for instance, locally while choosing to store the rest of the song in the Cloud.  To the user, the song just plays instantly, but iTunes is saving local space by caching only a fraction of the song locally.

Another interesting passage:

The media items owned or accessible by a user could be stored in a user’s media library. The media library could be stored on any suitable device, including for example on a host device, on a remotely accessed server, in a cloud, or in any other suitable location. The user could store at least some media items of the library on an electronic device so that the user could locally play back the media items. The electronic device could include communications circuitry for remotely connecting to the media library and stream media items to the user’s device.

Apple’s iTunes Cloud music offering has gotten a lot of press recently as Apple is rumored to have signed deals with two of the top four music labels and its competitors, Amazon and Google, both recently released Cloud-based music storage.

More at Patently Apple

 

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