According to press reports, Apple wants to keep tabs on iPod users with a new system it is currently applying to patent.
The system would allow Apple to calculate a "maximum volume parameter" during "the playing back of the media by the media player" based on the volume the player was set to while "playing back of audio media during a time period prior to executing the maximum volume refining step".
For those of us to whom this means nothing (namely all of us) - this system will allow Apple to find out how long an iPod owner has been listening to music and at what volume.
If the system deems you are blasting your ears out, it will automatically turn the volume of your iPod down to a pre-determined maximum volume.
Reports suggest that there will be no way around this - not even by turning your iPod off and on again - as the system includes a way for Apple to figure out "the amount of 'quiet time' between when the iPod is turned off and when it is restarted". If this, according to Apple, is too short a period, your iPod will remain in "whisper" mode.
The move is sure to set off tirades about nannying, interference, etc, but Apple is said to be responding to a raft of lawsuits in the US from complainants claiming that their iPod has blasted their ear drums.
Apple did initially respond by introducing a feature that allowed users to set their own maximum volume limit but apparently this wasn't enough.
Should this latest patent be granted, iPod users won't be given the option of turning the noise limiter off, which is sure to save Apple further hefty pay-outs in the law courts while seriously annoying those of us who like it loud.