Apple Granted Patent for TV Set-Top Box, Display Menus (Updated)

Apple TV may soon feature live television recording and newly designed menus to navigate through videos


Updated 6:30 p.m. PST

Apple received approval from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on Tuesday for a series of patents, including one for a revamped Apple TV that would allow users to record live television and also provide an on-screen menu for navigating videos.

The tech-giant is also reportedly in talks with some of the biggest cable operators to bring live television to Apple TV.

A deal has yet to be reached, as the cable companies may be reluctant to let Apple gain a foothold in the television business, the Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday.

Apple CEO Tim Cook was reportedly meeting with Glenn Britt, the top executive of Time Warner Cable at the Sun Valley conference, an annual media get-together known as an environment where big media deals are made.

One of the patents that Apple received Tuesday — a 47-page application dating back to October, 2006 — includes sketches that suggest Apple could roll out a set-top box that would allow users to watch live television, including programming from the big four networks that have so far rejected Apple TV. 

The illustrations show screenshots of popular network shows from the time of the patent application, including "King of Queens," "Lost" and "The O.C."

Apple TV currently limits users to on-demand services like iTunes, Netflix and Hulu Plus and does not feature live shows.

The patent application for the set-top box describes and depicts onscreen menus and video, with drop-down boxes featuring options appearing over a live TV stream. 

Also read: Apple Unveils New Apple TV: High-Def, Movies From the Cloud

A bar at the bottom of the screen, tracking the progress of the show, is also included in the illustrations of the device, which lifts elements similar to TiVo and other DVRs, including recording live broadcasts.

But since the big four networks said last year that it would not cut a deal with Apple to stream live content over its set-top box, the prospect for live television seems unlikely at this time.

Apple did not immediately respond to a call from TheWrap requesting comment.