Apple has been granted a patent (number 9,602,929) for “techniques for presenting sound effects on a portable media player.” The sound effects can be output as audio sounds to an internal speaker, an external speaker, or both.
In addition, the audio sounds for the sound effects can be output together with other audio sounds pertaining to media assets (e.g., audio tracks being played). In one embodiment, the sound effects can serve to provide auditory feedback to a user of the portable media device. A user interface can facilitate a user’s selection of sound effect usages, types or characteristics.
In the patent filing, Apple notes that users often interact with media players (thinkt the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch) while wearing earphones or headphones. In such case, the users will likely not be able to hear any auditory feedback, such as “click” sounds from a piezoelectric device. What’s more, the user might also be listening to audio sounds via the earphones or headphones when the user interaction occurs. Consequently, any users interaction with the media player while wearing earphone or headphones will be without the advantage of auditory feedback. The lack of auditory feedback degrades the user experience and renders the media player less user friendly. Apple’s patent is designed to deal with this.
Of course, Apple files for — and is granted — lots of patents by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. Many are for inventions that never see the light of day. However, you never can tell which ones will materialize in a real product.