Back to Mobile View

Skip to Content

TUAW Deals

Apple files patent for synchronized lyrics display

If there's one music player feature that never seemed to catch on, it's showing off the lyrics of a given song. The record companies quibbled a little bit about cover art, but now even iTunes will provide you with cover art, and yet lyrics are still confined to ad-laden websites trying to hide from the copyright brigade. Music players gained a little ground earlier this year when Gracenote won the ability to distribute song lyrics, but so far only Yahoo Music has taken them up on the offer (and who uses Yahoo Music anyway, right?).

Apple is getting there, though. According to Ars Technica, they've applied for a patent to "dynamically" show text on the screen of a portable media device while the media is playing, specifically synchronized lyrics. They also mention two ways of doing this-- either scrolling the text across the screen (which seems like a strange setup, but might work), and the more standard method of distinguishing one part of the text from another-- in other, less legal words, the bouncing ball technique.

Either way, I've never seen a good implementation of showing lyrics in a music player (the last time I messed around with it was a plugin for Winamp however many years ago, and of course in that case you had to get them in there yourself). If anyone can tell you what the hell Björk is supposed to be saying on her latest album, hopefully it's Apple.

If there's one music player feature that never seemed to catch on, it's showing off the lyrics of a given song. The record companies...