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Talking iPods 194

chrisb33 writes to tell us the next iteration of the iPod may talk you through the menus instead of just relying on text. The Scotsman speculates on this new technology based on a patent filed by Apple in the US. From the article: "The patent reveals the idea is driven largely by safety considerations. It states: 'A user will have difficulty navigating the interface in "eyes-busy" situations. Such activities include, for example, driving an automobile, exercising and crossing the street." The patent also makes clear that text-to-speech technology is likely to spread to other hand-held electronic devices such as mobile phones and palm-top computers."
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Talking iPods

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  • by moochfish ( 822730 ) on Monday July 10, 2006 @07:43AM (#15690064)
    As Creative kindly reminded Apple, having defensive patents to make sure your competitors think twice about suing you for patent infringment is a smart move.

    I'm more curious if Apple manages to make this feature a new defacto standard in the MP3 player market. I'm also wondering if this feature will come into play when and if they enter the cell phone market. It seems like a patent that applies readily to that market.
  • Fan boy alert! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 10, 2006 @07:44AM (#15690068)

    "The ingenious system"

    "clever software"

    Give me a break!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 10, 2006 @07:46AM (#15690073)
    If MP3's are still arranged in a geometric structure (trees of various sortings) and unless some new metaphor is introduced, iPods will still require spatial reasoning to navigate. While driving, I argue that there is one task and one task alone that should be getting full spation reasoning awareness: driving.

    What makes this worse is the translation from spatial to textual. This requires the user to reconstruct the spatial, requiring even more concentration.

    How about voice recognition? Call out the artist or album and listen away!
  • maybe, maybe not. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Aqua OS X ( 458522 ) on Monday July 10, 2006 @07:47AM (#15690076)
    The author seems fairly certain that a patent equals an imminent new feature, but that's not the case. A patent is a patent. Apple may implement this in 6 Gen iPods, they may wait for later revisions, they may never implement the feature.

    Technology companies, especially Apple, have piles patented software features, devices, etc that have never seen the light of day. And speaking of piles, one of which is actually called "piles."

      As I recall, Apple also has also recently patented several different new hardware interfaces for the iPod. You can bet money they're not all going to be implemented. Heck, none of them may be implemented.

  • A Missed Market (Score:4, Insightful)

    by prichardson ( 603676 ) on Monday July 10, 2006 @07:52AM (#15690098) Journal
    Apple is probably doing this to make their devices more accessible to the blind. OS X has a fairly sophisticated accessibility suite, and perhaps their extending it to their iPods. I know a blind person who would love to have an iPod, if it were accessible.

    All of that said, I really hope this is something I can turn the fuck off. When I got my mobile phone it made a noise every time I'd press a button, when I'd turn it off, when I'd turn it on, when I'd dial a number, and probably a few things that I never got to. I was glad that I could turn it all off, otherwise I would have had to return it.

    There seems to be an obsession with our technology beeping and buzzing to respond to our input. I know when I press a button; I don't need a noise to tell me what happened. The only time my phone needs to make noise is when I'm getting a phone call.
  • by SillyNickName4me ( 760022 ) <> on Monday July 10, 2006 @08:05AM (#15690139) Homepage
    Text to speech applyed to menu navigation. Nothing new here.

    Indeed. I was playing with that concept some 15 years ago on a Commodore Amiga, and back then it wasn't a new concept either.

    If this patent gets approved, it would show once more that the tests for non-obviousness and novelty are seriously broken.


    Prior art in the form of existing text to speech implementations (Amiga and others) and menus (Mac, Amiga, others).

    Known and/or well documented motivation to combine the 2: See any software aimed at making a computer accessable to someone who cannot read the screen for one reason or another.

    Got to think of it, screen readers and such seem to implement menu to speech interfaces and have been for at least some 2 decades.

    So.. the novelty part should be clear.
  • by SillyNickName4me ( 760022 ) <> on Monday July 10, 2006 @08:14AM (#15690172) Homepage
    this is because you might be vaporized by killer robot if you dont keep an eye out.

    I'm afraid you'll have to wait a few years for those. Expect to see them in Korea or Japan first.

    Untill then, cars and trucks happily take their place. Those employ kinetic energy to compress instead of vaporizing you but the result is not much different usually.
  • by PFI_Optix ( 936301 ) on Monday July 10, 2006 @08:16AM (#15690184) Journal
    You got that wrong. It should be:

    "Ahhh! But it's now being done by Apple!"
  • Re:Rockbox (Score:3, Insightful)

    by nathanh ( 1214 ) on Monday July 10, 2006 @08:18AM (#15690194) Homepage
    Unfortunately, Rockbox lacks all the elegance and grace which characterizes the Apple iPod interface. It looks and feels like it was designed by an autistic chimpanzee.

    Rockbox supports gapless playback.

    So you go play with your "elegant graceful interface". I prefer to listen to the music.

  • Re:A Missed Market (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Lussarn ( 105276 ) on Monday July 10, 2006 @08:49AM (#15690330)
    Yes, blind people will certanly love when somebody patents text-to-speech to use exclusively in their devices. Makes sence to me now. Thank you.
  • by ianscot ( 591483 ) on Monday July 10, 2006 @09:11AM (#15690461)

    While driving, I argue that there is one task and one task alone that should be getting full spation reasoning awareness: driving.

    I agree in principle that just reading off menu items to us is adding a level of abstraction, not simplifying anything. We haven't really seen how this would work, but it sounds like nothing much new. (Pre-OS X Macs certainly did this too.)

    The thing about cars is, radios and cells phones are also distracting. When each of those came out people said they distracted from people's driving, and despite our unthinking acceptance even radios really do that, you know? We're not just talking about spatial reasoning to figure out where on the dial we are left to right, we're talking about a device that deliberately obscures the sounds of traffic. Those shuddering bass-heavy cars thumpa-thumping at intersections can't possibly hear an ambulance. Let's not even start on cell phones.

    If they had to choose one thing to concentrate on, and okay obviously they don't, I'd tell Apple engineers to work out the stupid line-to-my-car-stereo thing. Yeah, I know there are options, and they're all too expensive and cumbersome. In reach with an easy hookup, please. In general car interiors get a ton of attention and still suck. It's amazing how the cup holders are crucially important to drivers, and turn out to be flimsy and awkward in so many cars. Just turn a little of that Apple attention to making things simpler there.

  • by russellh ( 547685 ) on Monday July 10, 2006 @09:14AM (#15690481) Homepage
    So.. the novelty part should be clear.
    Did you read the patent? and are you a lawyer?
  • by Chanc_Gorkon ( 94133 ) <> on Monday July 10, 2006 @09:39AM (#15690626)
    Acutally I HATE reading the text. I would rather have in game hosts who don't use text bubbles and have a way to skip the tutorial crap all together.

  • patent (Score:2, Insightful)

    by jonshipman ( 935910 ) on Monday July 10, 2006 @09:42AM (#15690640)
    If Apple didn't patent this for the iPod then someone else would come out with an mp3 player and then sued Apple for putting it into the iPod.
  • Re:Rockbox (Score:4, Insightful)

    by rm999 ( 775449 ) on Monday July 10, 2006 @10:38AM (#15691040)
    "So you go play with your "elegant graceful interface". I prefer to listen to the music."

    This seems obvious to me, but no one else has said it:
    Don't buy an iPod if this is your mentality. You can save some money with another product that has more features but a worse interface. People don't buy iPods for the features, they buy them for the elegant interface that no alternative OS or product has been able to match.
  • by DaveM753 ( 844913 ) on Monday July 10, 2006 @06:02PM (#15694169)
    I swear iPods have been talking to me for years. Every time I go to the Apple Store, I hear voices saying, "Buy me!"

"This is lemma 1.1. We start a new chapter so the numbers all go back to one." -- Prof. Seager, C&O 351