Apple patent 'confirms' iCloud media streaming

The world and its Wi-Fi is now so sure that Apple is about to unleash a cloud-based media streaming service that the rumours and conjecture have magically been made fact in most corners of the Internet.

Now, a patent application filed by Apple and unearthed today by Patently Apple gives the best indication yet of how the Mac maker's iTunes-in-the-cloud service wil work and it's all very clever.

Rather than using large amounts expensive and bulky storage on the device itself, iOS gadgets will store small snippets of each item from a user's iTunes library, perhaps the first few seconds of each music track or video clip, and use that to begin playback of the file, whilst downloading the remaining portion seamlessly in the background.

In Apple's words, "The electronic device could initiate playback of the locally stored portion of media item while requesting a stream from the user's media library for the remaining portion of the media item."

The method has been dubbed 'Sync Partial Music' in the patent application but we'd be willing to bet Apple will come up with a snappier name in due course. [iSink? Ed.]

Apple has built a massive new data centre in North Carolina, is rumoured to have signed deals with two of the four biggest music companies on the planet, and has paid millions of dollars for the name iCloud according to the ever-churning rumour mill.

If the Cupertino company doesn't announce a cloud-based media service at WWDC in June we'll eat our iPants.