Described in a patent application titled "Digital mixed tapes" published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on Thursday, Apple's idea is to tap into the nostalgia associated with swapping analog cassette tapes. More specifically, Apple is investigating methods by which personalized albums can be created, purchased and gifted from a cloud-based music service.
The system's mechanics are based on existing digital storefront technology and would therefore be familiar to anyone who has used iTunes or similar online services. Users select songs, movies, images and other digital media from their own library or an online store, then arrange the content, playback options and more to suit their needs.
This could be seen as further evidence of the influence of Apple's 'tech-savvy musicians' I mentioned previously, finding inspiration in how some pre-digital methods of sharing music created meaningful connections. The 'mixtape' idea is also a creative extension of the popular 'For You' tab as Apple doubles down on curation and playlisting. Of course, they could damage the idea by making it too complicated, as Apple is wont to do with their music applications. Granted, it's only a patent filing but there's a lot packed in there … is the option to "restrict a recipient's ability to fast forward" really worth adding an extra button?
Now, complexity be damned, if Apple wanted to go all out they could integrate this with GarageBand, adding some Ableton-like syncing capabilty, so users (non-DJs) could share and post 'mixed' sets from the Apple Music catalog. Boom.