Apple has won a rather interesting patent on a way to let consumers sidestep commercials.
Dubbed "Seamless switching between radio and local media," the patent describes a method for "seamlessly switching media playback between a media broadcast, such as a radio broadcast, and media from a local media library." That seamless switching occurs when the respective device "determines that an upcoming media item in a media broadcast is not of interest to a user."
Apple's patent could solve a problem many app users face today. When listening to a station on Pandora, for example, users who don't pay extra will be forced to listen to commercials. Apple's patent suggests a feature that, when those commercials are played, automatically switches a phone or table back to audio or video stored locally.
However, the patent doesn't just describe commercials. As Apple notes, users might not be interested in certain segments in shows, and can also have the technology take over and switch over to something else.
In order to actually determine what's shown and take users out of the equation of switching to other media, Apple's technology uses broadcast listings, scheduling information, and Radio Data System (RDS) descriptions.
But before you get too excited about skipping commercials, beware that Apple, like many companies, wins patents all of the time. And in many cases, the technologies described in those patents never launch. This might be one of those cases.