An Apple patent (number 8335914) for techniques and a graphical user interface for categorial shuffle has popped up at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. Apparently, our favorite tech company is looking for ways to improve the shuffle feature in iTunes.
It involves improved techniques and graphical user interfaces that enable users to shuffle a group of media items in accordance with categories associated with the media items. According to one aspect, techniques can operate to categorically shuffle media items having categories associated therewith. According to another aspect, a user interface control can be graphically presented to a user to assist the user in selecting a shuffle setting.
The shuffle setting provided by the user affects the nature of the shuffle. For example, the shuffle setting can impact the likelihood that two adjacent media items in the group of media items will be from the same one or more categories following the shuffle.
Here’s Apple’s background on the invention: “Conventionally, media management application programs operate on personal computers to facilitate storage and playback of media items, such as songs (music). One example of a media management application program is iTunes, produced by Apple Computer, Inc. A media management application program typically enables its user to browse or search through a collection of songs (i.e., audio tracks) stored on a personal computer.
“A collection or group of songs can pertain to a library or playlist of songs. However, given the popularity of storage and playback of songs from personal computers, it is not uncommon that users store several thousand different songs on their personal computer.
“Still further, a media management application can shuffle songs in a group of media items to reorder the songs. The shuffle operation can be at the request of a user or automatically initiated at the request of the media management application. Conventionally, however, the shuffle behavior is fixed. Namely, a conventional media management application program can perform a random shuffle operation.
”The random shuffle operation, however, yields statistically random results. As such, with the random shuffle operation, sporadically adjacent songs (i.e., audio tracks) will be from the same artist or album. However, some users desire that the shuffle operation avoid adjacent songs from the same artist or album.
“On the other hand, there are likely other users who desire that the shuffle operation occasionally yield adjacent songs that are from the same artist or album. Accordingly, there is a need for improved techniques to provide shuffle operations for songs or other media items.”
The inventors are Richard Crandall and Thomas Dowdy.