Touchscreen Controls for Next Gen of iPods?

Mae : Wireless Mobility Blog
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Touchscreen Controls for Next Gen of iPods?

Rumors have been flying around the past few days that Apple’s next generation of iPods will use touchscreen based navigation instead of its iconic scroll-wheel.

The rumors are based on Apple’s Oct. 26 filing for a patent (20060238517) to protect an “Electronic Device Having Display and Surrounding Touch Sensitive Bezel for User Interface and Control.”

TG Daily blogger Mark Raby noted in an Oct. 27 post that this patent bears some similarities to another one (20060242114, “Method and apparatus for configuring a computer”) filed recently by Apple, apparently related to a possible tablet computer. But, the electronic device patent seems more geared to an iPod.

“While the patent doesn’t specifically say the application is targeted for use in a media player,” Raby writes in reference to patent #20060238517, “it does include various potential diagrams of portable devices that could use the technology, and buried in there is a portable media player.”

Raby continues: “According to the patent, controls would be handled outside of the main display, as opposed to a point-and-click, stylus-based application.”

The Inquirer blogger Nick Farrell said in an Oct. 30 post that specs in the electronic device patent seem to indicate Apple may be working on incorporating a digital camera into the iPod—indicating that “Apple wants an iPodcam with touch-screen capability to switch back and forth between music-player and camera modes.”

Farrell continued: “Of course if you have a touch screen, it is less likely that you would need that wheel on the front, unless you would use it to get to more touch screens. However the diagrams in the patent suggest that the wheel is unnecessary.”

Apple keeps such tight control over its product development that, for now, all anyone can do is speculate regarding what will come out of Cupertina, CA next. What do you think Apple has up its sleeve?