Apple patent filing shows TiVo-like Apple TV

Apple's latest patent filing could produce an Apple TV product that's a DVR and a movie rental box, and could also be controlled by an iPod.

Just how far might Apple be planning to take Apple TV, Take Three (or maybe four)?

An Apple patent application unearthed by AppleInsider shows a proposed system for using an iPod-like device as a remote control for an Apple TV-like device with DVR capabilities. (They never use the actual product names in the applications, but it's not too hard to tell.) It also suggests that Apple is thinking about making a version of Apple TV that could watch and record live television programming.

Apple has applied for a patent that could let you record David Letterman interviewing Ben Affleck (we think that's Ben Affleck). USPTO

Apple TV got a little more interesting in January with the release of the second version of the product, which can play rented movies from the iTunes Store along with purchased videos. What it can't do, however, is replace your living room set-top box from your cable or satellite provider and deliver live television.

But in a series of illustrations, the patent application shows how a video player could scroll through a lineup of programs that looks an awful lot like the TV Guide channel. Viewers could watch, pause, and rewind live television when controlled by an iPod-like remote control device. In keeping with Apple's latest push toward multitouch interfaces, several gestures could be used on the remote control to fast forward, rewind, or pause, among other things.

The standard patent application disclaimer applies: Don't expect to see this device on store shelves in the coming weeks, as patent applications don't always make their way into products. Still, an Apple TV that could play live television--whether that's over cable, satellite, or the Internet--as well as rent movies directly from the iTunes Store would be an interesting device, especially if you could use your iPhone or iPod as the clicker.

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