Apple has been awarded several patents pertaining to Apple TV, 3D apps on the iPhone, video conferencing, and more.
A total of 34 patent awards were granted from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. One patent, which is touted as a "Content abstraction presentation along a multidimensional path," apparently relates to Apple TV and discusses digital video and audio players that can play content by the user.
"These various functions can often be grouped according to content types, e.g., movies, music, television programs, photos, etc.," the patent read. "The functions can then be accessed through various user interfaces that are typically arranged in a hierarchal manner, having a 'root' or 'home' user interface at the top of the hierarchy, from which the various context-dependent user interfaces are accessible."
Another patent is entitled "Video communication systems and methods", which refers to Apple's iChat videoconferencing. The patent suggests that it'll be possible to remove the background image found in a video stream and replace it with a different background.
A third patent, named "Generating a three-dimensional model using a portable electronic device recording," relates to 3D apps running on a smartphone such as the iPhone. Users could use the technology to record a video of a three-dimensional object and then view it in 3D.
During 2011, the smartphone industry -- especially Apple -- spent $20 billion on patents alone. The company had made headlines all year for its high-profile patent infringement suits against competitors such as Samsung and HTC.