Could Apple's forthcoming cloud-based music service have a leg up in speed compared to its competitors? It might if a recently published patent application from the company actually pans out. It suggests that just a snippet of the beginning of a song (or movie, for that matter) could be stored locally on a device, and then be synced to the complete version in the cloud, which would let you begin playback "immediately" rather than having to wait for the usual buffering to take place. The patent application also explains that the streaming playback could be adjusted based on the type of communications network, and that there would naturally be various means to authenticate your device and ensure that you actually own the music you're streaming. Of course, there's no guarantee that such a system will indeed be a part of Apple's seemingly imminent streaming service, but the patent application was filed way back in November of 2009, which certainly means it's had plenty of time to implement it if it chose to.

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Apple patent application suggests partial storage of music to speed up streaming