Touch-Screen iPod Next for Apple?

Dennis Faas's picture

Apple may be in the works to develop a touch-screen iPod. Recently, the company filed a patent that has put the future of the iconic "click wheel" in question; the patent specifically describes "a multiple-function multimedia device activated by touch-screen 'bezel' technology."

While the application of such technology is unknown, many are speculating it will be used on a new version of the iPod or on an iPod-like device. Others suggest an integrated device that doubles as a digital camera. (Source:

The possible demise of the click-wheel may not come as a total surprise. Apple has been experimenting with replacing the wheel with a touch-screen display for some time. However, the specs on the patent filing indicate a new alternative; rather than touching the screen (and clouding it with fingerprints), users would navigate the device by touching an area on the frame of the screen. (Source:

The new design offers a way to increase screen size on small devices. It also counters the negative affects of many touch-screens, which cover up the content when showing menu buttons or windows. Apple described the new patent as a way to "allow the electronic device to house a substantially full-screen display ... that consumes, or at least dominates, the surface of the electronic device." (Source:

Other interesting features of the patent include the device's ability to determine its orientation -- that is, whether it is being held vertically or horizontally. The device would then be able to alter the designated controls on the bezel as well as the visual display. (Source:

But before you get too excited on the innovative device, remember that as of right now it's only a patent, not a prototype.

As Tim Bajarin, an Analyst at Creative Strategies cautions, "Apple files patents for a lot of products that never make it to the market. You really can't read too much into their patent filings without understanding that it is part of their normal business procedure." (Source:

While prudence is certainly required when making predictions so early in the game, many industry buffs cannot help but speculate on what Apple may soon bring to the market. With the immense success that the iPod has experienced, maybe making optimistic predictions isn't so hasty after all.

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