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Apple TV interface glimpsed in major patent

Apple has been granted a patent that suggests what an Apple television could look like on your screen.

Could this be the future of Apple TV? Apple has been granted a patent suggesting what an Apple television could look like on your screen.

Apple has been granted a patent, spotted by Patently Apple, relating to menus appearing on your screen on top of the film or TV show you're watching. The illustrations submitted by Apple as part of the patent hint at the interface for the Apple television, including an OS X-style dock and a large menu on one side of the screen.

One pic shows a menu of icons appearing at the bottom of the screen, like the dock that pops up from the bottom of an iMac or MacBook, or the fixed tray that sits at the bottom of an iPhone or iPad. The dock includes a record icon, suggesting Apple TV would include a digital video recorder that would tape your shows for you.

Another screenshot shows a list of channels appearing on the right, taking up the full height of the screen and listing the programmes that are on now, complete with little logos for each channel. These can be filtered by type of programming, with another illustration showing just the films that are on at the moment.

Meanwhile, the TV show that you're watching hinges elegantly out of the way at a slight angle. It's similar to the cover flow view in the current version of Apple TV, which scrolls cover pictures for films and TV shows at an angle on the left of the screen while you peruse the menu on the right.

I have no idea how any of this is so gobsmackingly original that it deserves the protection of the US Patent and Trademark Office, but if I did I'd be earning an awful lot more as a patent lawyer.

The Apple TV patent is one of 29 newly granted patents revealed by the USPTO. It dates from 2006, which highlights how long Apple have been kicking round the idea of getting into telly. In fact, Apple founder Steve Jobs is said to have rejected the latest version of Apple TV, so more work is obviously needed.

In his biography, Steve Jobs claimed to have come up with a new way of controlling the TV, but Apple's standalone set isn't expected until 2013.

What do you make of it? Are you happy with your current TV or PVR or do you want a bit of Apple razzamatazz on your idiot box? Interface with me directly in the comments, or over on our easily navigable Facebook page.