This New Apple Patent Would Make iTunes Gift-Giving Easier

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With news buzzing about the final beta version of its iOS 7, Apple’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) efforts to come up with a new way of sending gifts on iTunes are also causing a stir. The U.S. Patent Office published the application by Apple for a system that would enable users to send content to other users as gifts both online and via near-field communication when users weren’t accessing the Internet. It would make purchased content more easily transferable if approved.

ITunes users already have the ability to send users a gift of a song or other type of content through email or directly through the server, but this system would not require an Internet connection. The near-field communication would keep the digital-rights management authentication in place and permit transfer “to the giftee device using a peer-to-peer connection,” according to the company’s patent application.

Of course, one could make the point that peer-to-peer communication is at the moment impossible on iOS devices. So far, no reports have surfaced saying that fact will change with the launch of iOS 7, now in its sixth beta version with the grand master version headed to developers within weeks. Regarding the peer-to-peer communication system, copyright watchdogs will be happy to know that these gifts would have to be authenticated and paid for in order to have the transaction go through.

As with systems that bar the transfer of copyrighted material to non-paying consumers, the peer-to-peer method of gifting would still be able to recognize the gift buyer had purchased it. That’s the main innovation of Apple’s engineers with respect to this patent. Finding out when NFC communication will become available would be the logical next step, but there is no word on when this capability will hit the iPhone.

Samsung’s (SSNLF.PK) Galaxy phones, of course, deliver that technology to users running Android (NASDAQ:GOOG) 4.0 or later. It’s one of the features Samsung has touted all year when coming after Apple in its ads. By designing a way to buy content and pass it along to giftees, Apple’s engineers have paved the way for this system to hit the iPhone. The only question is how long it will take to make it a reality.

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