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United States Patent Application 20090013253
Kind Code A1
Laefer; Jay S. ;   et al. January 8, 2009

METHOD AND SYSTEM FOR CONTROLLING VIDEO SELECTION AND PLAYBACK IN A PORTABLE MEDIA PLAYER

Abstract

A method and system in accordance with the present invention allows an accessory to control settings of a portable media player when providing video to an accessory, to control playback of the portable media player and to provide for navigation between video tracks in a hierarchical fashion. In so doing, a portable media player can then utilize this information to provide for the maximum functionality of the accessory when connected to the portable media player.


Inventors: Laefer; Jay S.; (Sunnyvale, CA) ; Lydon; Gregory T.; (Santa Cruz, CA) ; Novotney; Donald J.; (San Jose, CA) ; Filson; John B.; (San Jose, CA) ; Tupman; David; (San Francisco, CA)
Correspondence Address:
    TOWNSEND AND TOWNSEND AND CREW, LLP
    TWO EMBARCADERO CENTER, 8TH FLOOR
    SAN FRANCISCO
    CA
    94111-3834
    US
Assignee: Apple Inc.
Cupertino
CA

Serial No.: 137426
Series Code: 12
Filed: June 11, 2008

Current U.S. Class: 715/721; G9B/19.001
Class at Publication: 715/721
International Class: G06F 3/00 20060101 G06F003/00


Claims



1. A method for using an accessory communicably coupled to navigate video content stored on a portable media player according to a video hierarchy; the method comprising, by the accessory:sending a first selection command to the media player to select a media kind from the video hierarchy;sending a second selection command to the media player to select a category of the media kind; andsending one or more additional selection commands to the media player until a desired video track is located.

2. The method of claim 1 wherein the media kind is selected from a group of media kinds that includes at least one of a television show media kind, a movie media kind, a music video media kind, or a video podcast media kind.

3. The method of claim 2 further comprising:in the event that the television show media kind is selected, sending a third selection command to select a season of the television show.

4. The method of claim 1 wherein the category is selected from an artist category, an album category, or a song track category.

5. A computer readable medium containing program instructions for controlling operation of an accessory communicably coupled to a media player that stores video content according to a video hierarchy, the program code comprising:program code for sending a first selection command to the media player to instruct the media player to select a media kind from the video hierarchy;program code for sending a second selection command to the media player to instruct the media player to select a category of the media kind; andprogram code for sending one or more additional selection commands to instruct the media player to make additional selections.

6. The computer readable medium of claim 5 wherein the media kind is selected from a group of media kinds including at least one of a television show media kind, a movie media kind, a music video media kind, or a video podcast media kind.

7. The computer readable medium of claim 6 further comprising:program code for sending a third selection command to select a season of the television show in the event that the television show media kind is selected.

8. A connector interface system for an accessory comprising:an interface configured to transmit and receive signals with a media player,wherein the signals include a plurality of commands for navigating video content stored on a portable media player according to a video hierarchy, the plurality of commands including:a first command that instructs the media player to select a media kind from the video hierarchy;a second command that instructs the media player to select a category of the media kind; anda third command that instructs the media player to make a further selection within the video hierarchy.

9. The connector interface system of claim 8 wherein the interface comprises a wireless interface.

10. The connector interface system of claim 8 wherein the interface includes a plurality of signal contacts.

11. The connector interface system of claim 10 wherein the plurality of signal contacts includes a serial pin and the commands are sent over the serial pin.

12. The connector interface system of claim 10 wherein the plurality of signal contacts comprises a connector.

13. The connector interface system of claim 12 wherein the connector comprises:a keying arrangement, wherein one set of keys are separated by one length and another set of keys are separated by another length.

14. The connector interface system of claim 12 wherein the plurality of signal contacts includes:a ground contact;a power contact;an accessory identify contact;an accessory detect contact.

15. The connector interface system of claim 14 wherein the plurality of signal contacts further includes a video contact.

16. The connector interface system of claim 8 wherein the media kind is selected from a group of media kinds that includes at least one of a television show media kind, a movie media kind, a music video media kind, or a video podcast media kind.

17. The connector interface system of claim 16 wherein the plurality of commands further includes a fourth command that instructs the media player to select a season of the television show in the event that the television show media kind is selected.

18. The connector interface system of claim 8 wherein the category is selected from an artist category, an album category, or a song track category.

19. An accessory comprising:a device; anda connector interface system in communication with the device, the connector interface system comprising an interface configured to transmit and receive signals with a media player,wherein the signals include a plurality of commands for navigating video content stored on a portable media player according to a video hierarchy, the plurality of commands including:a first command that instructs the media player to select a media kind from the video hierarchy;a second command that instructs the media player to select a category of the media kind; anda third command that instructs the media player to make a further selection within the video hierarchy.

20. The accessory of claim 19 wherein the interface includes a plurality of signal contacts.

21. The accessory of claim 20 wherein the plurality of signal contacts includes a serial pin and the commands are sent over the serial pin.

22. The accessory of claim 20 wherein the plurality of signal contacts comprises a connector.

23. The accessory of claim 22 wherein the connector comprises:a keying arrangement, wherein one set of keys are separated by one length and another set of keys are separated by another length.

24. The accessory of claim 23 wherein the plurality of signal contacts includes:a ground contact;a power contact;an accessory identify contact;an accessory detect contact.

25. The accessory of claim 24 wherein the plurality of signal contacts further includes a video contact.

26. The accessory of claim 19 wherein the media kind is selected from a group of media kinds that includes at least one of a television show media kind, a movie media kind, a music video media kind, or a video podcast media kind.

27. The accessory of claim 26 wherein the plurality of commands further includes a fourth command that instructs the media player to select a season of the television show in the event that the television show media kind is selected.

28. The accessory of claim 19 wherein the category is selected from an artist category, an album category, or a song track category.

29. A method for locating video content stored within a portable media player using an accessory communicably coupled to the portable media player; the method comprising, by the accessory:sending to the portable media player a first command to select a video hierarchy within a database of media tracks stored on the portable media player, the database of media tracks including at least one video track;sending to the portable media player a second command to select a media kind from within the video hierarchy;receiving from the media player information indicating a number of video tracks stored within the media player that correspond to the selected media kind; andin the event that more than one video track corresponds to the selected media kind, sending to the portable media player a third command to select a category within the media kind.

30. The method of claim 29 wherein the second command selects a media kind from a group of media kinds consisting of television shows, movies, music videos, and video podcasts.

31. The method of claim 30 wherein in the event that the second command selects the television shows media kind, the third command selects one of a plurality of seasons of a television show.

32. The method of claim 29 wherein the third command selects a category from a group of categories consisting of a first category that maps to an artist, a second category that maps to an album, and a third category that maps to a track.

33. An accessory for use with a portable media player, the accessory comprising:an interface adapted to be coupled with a portable media player and configured to support an accessory protocol for exchanging with the portable media player commands and information related to playback of video tracks stored on the portable media player; anda control module coupled to the interface, the control module being configured to:send to the portable media player a first command to select a video hierarchy within a database of media tracks stored on the portable media player, the database of media tracks including at least one video track;send to the portable media player a second command to select a media kind from within the video hierarchy;receive from the media player information indicating a number of tracks stored within the media player that correspond to the selected media kind; andsend to the portable media player, in the event that more than one video track corresponds to the selected media kind, a third command to select a category within the media kind.

34. The accessory of claim 33 wherein the interface comprises a connector having a plurality of signal pins, the signal pins being arranged to mate with corresponding signal pins on a mating connector of the portable media player.

35. The accessory of claim 34 wherein the plurality of signal pins includes a pair of serial pins and wherein the first command, the second command, and the third command are sent via a transmit pin of the pair of serial pins.

36. The accessory of claim 35 wherein the plurality of signal pins further includes:a ground pin and a power pin;an accessory identify signal pin;an accessory detect signal pin; anda video output pin.

37. The accessory of claim 36 wherein the plurality of signal pins further includes:a USB signal pin; anda USB power pin.

38. The accessory of claim 37 wherein the plurality of signal pins further includes:a Firewire signal pin; anda Firewire power pin.

39. The accessory of claim 36 wherein the plurality of signal pins further includes an accessory power pin.

40. The accessory of claim 36 wherein the plurality of signal pins further includes a line signal pin.

41. The accessory of claim 34 wherein the connector comprises:a keying arrangement including a first set of keys separated by a first length and a second set of keys separated by a different length.

42. The accessory of claim 33 wherein the second command selects a media kind from a group of media kinds consisting of television shows, movies, music videos, and video podcasts.

43. The accessory of claim 42 wherein in the event that the second command selects the television shows media kind, the third command selects one of a plurality of seasons of a television show.

44. The accessory of claim 33 wherein the third command selects a category from a group of categories consisting of a first category that maps to an artist, a second category that maps to an album, and a third category that maps to a track.
Description



CROSS-REFERENCES TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

[0001]This application is a divisional of application Ser. No. 11/519,541, filed Sep. 11, 2006, entitled "Method and System for Controlling Video Selection and Playback in a Portable Media Player," which disclosure is incorporated herein by reference for all purposes.

[0002]This application is related to co-pending U.S. patent application Ser. No. 10/833,689, entitled "Connector Interface System for a Multi-Communication Device", filed on Apr. 27, 2004, and assigned to the assignee of the present application, which is incorporated by reference herein.

[0003]This application is related to U.S. patent application Ser. No. 11/519,386, entitled "Method and System for Controlling an Accessory Having a Tuner", filed on even date herewith, assigned to the assignee of the present application which is incorporated by reference herein.

[0004]This application is related to U.S. patent application Ser. No. 11/519,278, entitled "Method and System for Controlling Power Provided to an Accessory", filed on even date herewith, assigned to the assignee of the present application which is incorporated by reference herein.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

[0005]The present invention relates generally to electrical devices and more particularly to electrical devices such as portable media players that communicate with accessory devices.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0006]A portable media player stores media assets, such as audio tracks, video tracks or photos that can be played or displayed on the portable media player. One example of a portable media player is the iPod.RTM. portable media player, which is available from Apple Inc. of Cupertino, Calif. Often, a portable media player acquires its media assets from a host computer that serves to enable a user to manage media assets. As an example, the host computer can execute a media management application to manage media assets. One example of a media management application is iTunes.RTM., version 6.0, produced by Apple Inc.

[0007]A portable media player typically includes one or more connectors or ports that can be used to interface to the portable media player. For example, the connector or port can enable the portable media player to couple to a host computer, be inserted into a docking system, or receive an accessory device. There are today many different types of accessory devices that can interconnect to the portable media player. For example, a remote control can be connected to the connector or port to allow the user to remotely control the portable media player. As another example, an automobile can include a connector and the portable media player can be inserted onto the connector such that an automobile media system can interact with the portable media player, thereby allowing the media content on the portable media player to be played within the automobile. In another example, a digital camera can be connected to the portable media player to download images and the like. In another example, content (either audio, video or photos) can be provided from a host to the portable media player which can then play the content.

[0008]Accordingly, it is desirable for the portable media player to be able to effectively provide ways to optimize the interaction between a portable media player and an accessory. The present invention addresses such a need.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0009]A method and system for controlling video selection and playback is disclosed. In a first aspect, a method and system for providing video settings for a portable media player comprise obtaining preferences of the portable media player; returning a current setting of the portable media player and setting appropriate preferences within the portable media player. The method and system includes enabling the preferences of the portable media player.

[0010]In a second aspect, a method and system for use with a portable media player comprise providing an audio menu and a video menu via the portable media player and selecting the video menu. The method and system includes selecting the video capable tracks of the portable media player utilizing a command.

[0011]In a third aspect, a method and system for navigating a video control within a portable media player comprise providing a video hierarchy and selecting a media kind from the video hierarchy utilizing at least one command. The method and system includes selecting a category of the media kind until a desired video track is obtained utilizing at least one command.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0012]FIG. 1 shows an exemplary portable media player, in accordance with an embodiment of the invention.

[0013]FIGS. 2A and 2B illustrate a docking connector in accordance with the present invention.

[0014]FIG. 3A is a front and top view of a remote connector in accordance with the present invention.

[0015]FIG. 3B illustrates a plug to be utilized in the remote connector.

[0016]FIG. 3C illustrates the plug inserted into the remote connector.

[0017]FIG. 4A illustrates the connector pin designations for the docking connector.

[0018]FIG. 4B illustrates the connection pin designations for the remote connector.

[0019]FIG. 5A illustrates a typical FireWire connector interface for the docking connector.

[0020]FIG. 5B illustrates a reference schematic diagram for an accessory power source.

[0021]FIG. 5C illustrates a reference schematic diagram for a system for detecting and identifying accessories for the docking connector.

[0022]FIG. 5D is a reference schematic of an electret microphone that may be within the remote connector.

[0023]FIG. 6A illustrates a portable media player coupled to a docking station.

[0024]FIG. 6B illustrates the portable media player coupled to a computer.

[0025]FIG. 6C illustrates the portable media player coupled to a car or home stereo system.

[0026]FIG. 6D illustrates the portable media player coupled to a dongle that communicates wirelessly with other accessories.

[0027]FIG. 6E illustrates the portable media player coupled to a speaker system.

[0028]FIG. 7 is a flow chart that illustrates a process for providing the portable media player settings.

[0029]FIG. 8 is a flow chart that illustrates a process for selecting a menu from a portable media player.

[0030]FIG. 9 is a block diagram that illustrates two logical entities in a portable media player that need to be managed while browsing and playing content: a playback and a database engine.

[0031]FIG. 10 is a flow chart that illustrates database navigation in a portable media player.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

[0032]The present invention relates generally to electrical devices and more particularly to electrical devices such as portable media players that communicate with accessory devices. The following description is presented to enable one of ordinary skill in the art to make and use the invention and is provided in the context of a patent application and its requirements. Various modifications to the preferred embodiment and the generic principles and features described herein will be readily apparent to those skilled in the art. Thus, the present invention is not intended to be limited to the embodiment shown but is to be accorded the widest scope consistent with the principles and features described herein.

[0033]A method and system in accordance with the present invention provides a system that allows a portable media player to control settings of portable media player when receiving video from an accessory, to control playback of the portable media player and to provide for navigation between video tracks in a hierarchical fashion. In so doing, a portable media player can then utilize this information to allow for the maximum functionality of the accessory when connected to the portable media player. In one embodiment commands are utilized to facilitate communication of this information between the portable media player and the accessory. To describe the features of the present invention in more detail refer now to the following discussion in conjunction with the accompanying Figures.

[0034]FIG. 1 shows a simplified block diagram for an exemplary portable media player 10 in accordance with an embodiment of the invention. The portable media player 10 includes a processor 124 that pertains to a microprocessor or controller for controlling the overall operation of the portable media player 10. The portable media player 10 stores media data pertaining to media assets in a file system 126 and a cache 106. The file system 126 typically provides high capacity storage capability for the portable media player 10. However, to improve access time to the file system 126, the portable media player 10 can also include a cache 106. The cache 106 may be, for example, Random-Access memory (RAM). The relative access time to the cache 106 is substantially shorter than for the file system 126. However, the cache 106 typically does not have the large storage capacity of the file system 126. Further, the file system 126, when active, consumes more power than does the cache 106. The power consumption is particularly important when the portable media player 10 is powered by a battery (not shown). The portable media player 10 also includes additional RAM 122 and a Read-Only Memory (ROM) 120. The ROM 120 can store programs to be executed by the processor 124. The RAM 122 provides volatile data storage, such as for the cache 106.

[0035]The portable media player 10 also includes a user input device 108 that allows a user of the portable media player 10 to interact with the portable media player 10. For example, the user input device 108 can take a variety of forms, such as a button, keypad, touch screen, dial, etc. Still further, the portable media player 10 includes a display 110 (screen display) that can be controlled by the processor 124 to display information as well as photos and video tracks to the user. A data bus 113 can facilitate data transfer between at least the file system 126, the cache 106, the processor 124, and other functional blocks. The portable media player 10 also includes a bus interface 116 that couples to a data link 118. The data link 118 allows the portable media player 10 to couple to a host computer that can be a stand alone host computer or part of an interconnected network of computers, such as the Internet or other such distributed systems.

[0036]In one embodiment, the portable media player 10 serves to store a plurality of media assets (e.g., songs, videos, photos) in the file system 126. When a user desires to have the portable media player 10 play a particular media item, a list of available media assets is displayed on the display 110. Then, using the user input device 108, a user can select one of the available media assets. The processor 124, upon receiving a selection of a particular media item, such as an audio file, supplies the media data for the particular media item to a coder/decoder (CODEC) 112 via bus 113. The CODEC 112 then produces analog output signals for a speaker 114. The speaker 114 can be a speaker internal to the portable media player 10 or external to the portable media player 10. For example, headphones or earphones that connect to the portable media player 10 would be considered an external speaker. In other applications, media asset files stored on the host computer or in other computers coupled to the host computer by way of the network can be transferred (otherwise referred to as downloaded) to the file system 126 (or the cache 106). These media assets could also be, for example, videos or photos which could be provided to the display 110 via a video processor (not shown) either coupled to or within the processor 124. In this way, the user has available any number and type of media asset files for play by the portable media player 10.

[0037]For example, in a particular embodiment, the available media assets are arranged in a hierarchical manner based upon a selected number and type of groupings appropriate to the available media assets. In the case where the portable media player 10 is an MP3 type media player, the available media assets take the form of MP3 files (each of which corresponds to a digitally encoded song or other rendition) stored at least in part in the file system 126. The available media assets (or in this case, songs) can be grouped in any manner deemed appropriate. In one arrangement, the songs can be arranged hierarchically as a list of music genres at a first level, a list of artists associated with each genre at a second level, a list of albums for each artist listed in the second level at a third level, a list of songs for each album listed in the third level at a fourth level, and so on.

[0038]A method and system in accordance with the present invention can be utilized with a portable media player and its associated accessory in a variety of environments. One such environment is within a connector interface system that is described in detail hereinbelow. The connector interface system allows for the portable media player and the accessory to communicate utilizing interface signals over at least one of the pins of the connector interface system.

Connector Interface System Overview

[0039]To describe the features of the connector interface system in accordance with the present invention in more detail, refer now to the following description in conjunction with the accompanying drawings.

Docking Connector

[0040]FIGS. 2A and 2B illustrate a docking connector 100 in accordance with the present invention. Referring first to FIG. 2A, the keying features 102 are of a custom length 104. In addition, a specific key arrangement is used, where one set of keys separated by one length are at the bottom and another set of keys separated by another length are at the top of the connector. The use of this key arrangement prevents noncompliant connectors from being plugged in and potentially causing damage to the device. The connector for power utilizes a Firewire specification for power. The connector includes a first make/last break contact to implement this scheme. FIG. 2B illustrates the first make/last break contact 202 and also illustrates a ground pin 204 and a power pin 206 related to providing an appropriate first make/last break contact. In this example, the ground pin 204 is longer than the power pin 206. Therefore, the ground pin 204 would contact its mating pin in the docking accessory before the power pin 206. Therefore the risk of internal electrical damage to the electronics of the device is minimized. Further details of an exemplary embodiment for the docking connector 100 are described in U.S. Pat. No. 6,776,660 entitled CONNECTOR, which issued on Aug. 17, 2004 and is incorporated herein by reference in its entirety.

[0041]In addition, a connector interface system in accordance with the present invention uses both USB and Firewire interfaces as part of the same docking connector alignment, thereby making the design more compatible with different types of interfaces, as will be discussed in detail hereinafter. In so doing, more remote accessories can interface with the portable media player.

Remote Connector

[0042]The connector interface system also includes a remote connector which provides for the ability to output audio and input audio, provides I/O serial protocol, and provides the ability to input video and output video. FIG. 3A is a front and top view of a remote connector 200 in accordance with the present invention. As is seen, the remote connector 200 includes a top headphone receptacle 222, as well as a second receptacle 224 for remote devices. FIG. 3B illustrates a plug 300 to be utilized in the remote connector. The plug 300 allows these features to be provided via the remote connector. FIG. 3C illustrates the plug 300 inserted into the remote connector 200. Heretofore, all these features have not been implemented in a remote connector. Therefore, a standard headphone cable can be plugged in but also special remote control cables, microphone cables and video cables could be utilized with the remote connector.

[0043]To describe the features of the connector interface system in more detail, provided below is a functional description of the docking connector, remote connector and a command set in accordance with the present invention.

Docking and Remote Connector Specifications

[0044]For an example of the connector pin designations for both the docking connector and for the remote connector for a portable media player such as an iPod device by Apple Inc., refer now to FIGS. 4A and 4B. FIG. 4A illustrates the connector pin designations for the docking connector. FIG. 4B illustrates the connection pin designations for the remote connector.

Docking Connector Specifications

[0045]FIG. 5A illustrates a typical Firewire connector interface for the docking connector:

[0046]Firewire Power:

[0047]a) 8V-30V DC IN

[0048]b) 10 W Max

[0049]Firewire Signal:

[0050]a) Designed to IEEE 1394 A Spec (400 Mb/s)

USB Interface

[0051]In one embodiment, the portable media player provides two configurations, or modes, of USB device operation: mass storage and portable media player USB Interface (MPUI). The MPUI allows the portable media player to be controlled using an accessory protocol. What is meant by an accessory protocol is the software component of the media player that communicates with accessories over a given transport layer.

Accessory Power

[0052]FIG. 5B illustrates the accessory power source. The portable media player accessory power pin supplies voltages, for example, 3.0 V to 3.3V.+-.5% (2.85 V to 3.465 V) over the docking connector and remote connector (if present). A maximum current is shared between the docking connector and the remote connector.

[0053]By default, the portable media player supplies a particular current such as 5 mA. An appropriate software accessory detection system can be employed to turn on high power (for example, up to 100 mA) during active device usage. When devices are inactive, they typically consume less than a predetermined amount of power such as 5 mA current.

[0054]Accessory power is switched off for a period of, for example, approximately 2 seconds during the powering up of the portable media player. This is done to ensure that accessories are in a known state and can be properly detected. In one embodiment, accessories are responsible for re-identifying themselves after the portable media player transitions accessory power from the off to the on state.

[0055]Accessory power is grounded through the Digital Ground (DGND) pins.

[0056]FIG. 5C illustrates a reference schematic diagram for a system for detecting and identifying accessories for the docking connector. The system comprises:

[0057]a) a resistor (R) to ground that allows the device to determine what type of accessory has been plugged into the docking connector; and

b) two identify and detect pins (Accessory Identify (pin 10, FIG. 4A) and

[0058]Accessory Detect (pin 20, FIG. 4A)).

[0059]FIG. 5D is a reference schematic of an electret microphone that is within the remote connector.

Serial Protocol Communication:

[0060]For serial protocol communication, two pins are used to communicate to and from the device (Rx (pin 19, FIG. 4A) & Tx (pin 18, FIG. 4A)). Input & Output levels can be, e.g., 0V=Low, 3.3V=High.

[0061]As before mentioned, portable media players connect to a variety of accessories. FIGS. 6A-6E illustrates a portable media player coupled to different accessories. FIG. 6A illustrates a portable media player 500 coupled to a docking station 502. FIG. 6B illustrates the portable media player 500' coupled to a computer 504. FIG. 6C illustrates the portable media player 500'' coupled to a car or home stereo system 506. FIG. 6D illustrates the portable media player 500''' coupled to a dongle 508 that communicates wirelessly with other devices. FIG. 6E illustrates the portable media player 500'''' coupled to a speaker system 510. As is seen, what is meant by accessories includes but is not limited to docking stations, chargers, car stereos, microphones, home stereos, computers, speakers, and accessories which communicate wirelessly with other accessories.

[0062]An embodiment can utilize a plurality of aspects to effectively play video information on a portable media player. First, the portable media player settings can be controlled. For example, the video output is set, the format used in the portable media player is set or the aspect ratio of the screen can be set. In a second aspect, playback controls are utilized to control the playing of a video. Finally, in a third aspect database navigation of the video selections is provided via a hierarchical system. To describe the features of each of these aspects in more detail refer now to the following discussion in conjunction with the accompanying drawings.

[0063]In one embodiment, commands are for accessories that need to control the state of the portable media player, recreate a portion of the portable media player user interface on a remote display, or control the state of the portable media player equalizer. The commands can be used by simple inline-display remotes (remotes that have single-line display and play control buttons) and more complex accessories that have full multi-line graphical displays to show information about the track, artist, or album; current play or pause state; track position; battery; shuffle and time.

Portable Media Player Settings

[0064]In one aspect, commands are utilized on a portable media player for video control. The commands for example could be provided via the serial pins (Rx and Tx) of the 30-pin connector shown in FIG. 4A.

[0065]FIG. 7 is a flow chart that illustrates a process for providing the portable media player settings. First a command is provided which obtains portable media player preferences, via step 602. In one embodiment there are three values that may be set in the command: off (0), on (1) and "ask" (2). There may be several different preferences for video, for example, screen configuration and video format. In one embodiment there are two values for screen configuration: fullscreen (0) and widescreen (1). In one embodiment, there are two values for the video format, such as: an analog television format by the National Television System Committee (NTSC) (0) and Phase Alternating Line format (PAL) (1).

[0066]Next, a command returns the current setting for the preferences specified, via step 604. Thereafter, a command sets appropriate combinations of preference type and values, via step 606. Then a command is utilized to ask the portable media player to retrieve options supported by the portable media player, via step 608. Finally, the portable media player options are returned and the settings on the portable media player are enabled, via step 610. In so doing, video content can be controlled and played.

Video Selection and Playback

[0067]Once the settings are enabled, then in a second aspect, video selection and playback is provided. In an embodiment, playing a video will depend on the current user selection. FIG. 8 is a flow chart illustrating a process for selecting a menu from a portable media player. Accordingly, audio and video menus are displayed, via step 702. If the user selects the video menu, then video will be played for video-capable tracks, via step 704. If the user selects the audio menu, then only audio will be played, via step 706.

Database Navigation

[0068]In a third aspect, the database of the portable media player must be navigated to play the appropriate video selection. To describe this feature in more detail, refer now to the following description in conjunction with the accompanying figures. As shown in FIG. 9, in a portable media player 800 there are two logical entities that need to be managed while browsing and playing content: a playback engine 802 and a database engine 804. The following describes those engines and gives an example of command traffic between an accessory and a portable media player.

The Playback Engine

[0069]The playback engine 802 is active when the portable media player is in a playback state, such as play, fast forward, and rewind. It has a special play list that is used to determine what track or content item will be played next. A command is used to transfer the currently selected database items to the special play list and start the portable media player at a specified item within that list.

The Database Engine

[0070]The database engine 804 can be manipulated remotely and allows groups of content items to be selected, independently of the playback engine 802. This allows the user to listen to an existing track or playlist while checking the portable media player database for another selection. Once a different database selection is made, the user selection (the track or content playlist) is sent to the playback engine 802.

Database Category Hierarchies

[0071]The database engine 804 uses categories to classify records stored in the database. Possible categories are playlist, genre, artist, album, track, composer and audiobook. A list of records can be assembled, based on the various selected categories, to create a user list of records (a playlist).

[0072]In one embodiment, the database categories have a hierarchy by which records are sorted and retrieved. This category hierarchy has an impact on the order in which records should be selected. For example, if a low category, such as album, is selected first, followed by a higher relative category such as genre, the album selection is invalidated and is ignored. When creating a new set of database selections, the accessory should begin by resetting all database selections, using the a command, and selecting the desired database categories from highest to lowest relative category.

[0073]FIG. 10 is a flow chart illustrating database navigation in a portable media player in accordance with the present invention. In an embodiment, a command is utilized to select between audio and video hierarchies via step 902. For example, an additional byte can be added to the command to select the hierarchy. In the video hierarchy, a "genre" list of an audio track selection will be used to indicate a "media kind" list of the video track selection, via step 904. As with the genre list, the media kind list is dynamic and may be updated to add, modify, or remove existing entries.

[0074]Once a media kind has been selected, next the existing categories, such as "Artist", "Album", and "Song/Track" are then used to further narrow the selection until the desired content is found, via step 904. Next it is determined if the categories selected return a single entry, via step 906. If the categories selected provides multiple entries, then one of the entries must be selected. For example, for a television show if there are several seasons, then one of the seasons must be selected. For some media kinds (e.g., movies), the categories will return a single entry and the accessory can, for example, provide a shortcut to a next level down. Similarly, for television shows, the Season menu may be omitted on the portable media player if all the episodes are from a single season. Video podcasts operate just like television shows. Music videos are also like television shows except that they do not currently use album names. In one embodiment, when browsing through the music hierarchy, video-only tracks will be filtered out. Hybrid tracks (like video podcasts) can appear in both hierarchies.

[0075]A method and system in accordance with the present invention provides a system that allows a portable media player to control settings of portable media player when receiving video from an accessory, to control playback of the portable media player and to provide for navigation between video tracks in a hierarchical fashion. In so doing, a portable media player can then utilize this information to provide for the maximum functionality of the accessory when connected to the portable media player.

[0076]Although the present invention has been described in accordance with the embodiments shown, one of ordinary skill in the art will readily recognize that there could be variations to the embodiments and those variations would be within the spirit and scope of the present invention. For example, the present invention can be implemented using hardware, software, a computer readable medium containing program instructions, or a combination thereof. Software written according to the present invention is to be either stored in some form of computer-readable medium such as a memory or CD-ROM, or is to be transmitted over a network, and is to be executed by a processor. Consequently, a computer-readable medium is intended to include a computer readable signal, which may be, for example, transmitted over a network. Accordingly, many modifications may be made by one of ordinary skill in the art without departing from the spirit and scope of the appended claims.

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