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The End of the iPod Clickwheel 158

Rockgod quotes a Mercury News article saying "If a recent patent filing is any indication, Apple Computer may abandon the iconic wheel that has become virtually synonymous with its popular iPod music players. The company had previously explored replacing the click wheel with a virtual one as part of a touch-sensitive display. But now Apple appears to be looking at a third option: a touch-sensitive frame surrounding the display. Rather than click a physical button or press a virtual one on the screen, users would touch an area on the frame to operate their iPod."
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The End of the iPod Clickwheel

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  • by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn@@@gmail...com> on Sunday October 29, 2006 @10:16AM (#16631678) Journal
    I don't know if this is related to the news that their patent has fallen through [arstechnica.com] for the user interface based on the clickwheel but if I may speculate, it may have some influence on their decision.

    So you might wonder who cares if you can patent an interface or not? If it works, who cares? Well, I would like to point out that if they can't successfully patent the clickwheel & interface, this leads the way for many many knock offs that could potentially function identical to an iPod. If someone can offer an iPod for a fraction of the price, they could potentially steal a part of the market share.

    So it might seem that a part of their strategy is to introduce an equally intuitive interface with the user (that they can patent) so as to maintain their unique offering to the consumer. Maybe they don't think their name brand reorganization & iTMS compatibility is sufficient to keep a hold on the market. But it's not certain the market will love the new interface as much as the old ... so it is definitely a risky move either way. Perhaps they could market both flavors of iPod interface?

    The simplest explanation is that they're just testing the waters for interfaces that they can patent.
  • Interesting (Score:3, Informative)

    by slusich (684826) * <slusich AT gmail DOT com> on Sunday October 29, 2006 @10:17AM (#16631692)
    Sounds like they're not really doing away with the wheel, but rather just relocating it around the screeen. I love my 4G ipod and the click wheel interface has alot to do with that. Hopefully this new interface won't change things too much. The wheel has become iconic at this point and Apple may be making a critical mistake if they remove it.
  • by bsharitt (580506) <bsharitt @ g m a i l . c om> on Sunday October 29, 2006 @10:37AM (#16631792) Homepage Journal
    That patent was on the hierarchical UI, not the clickwheel at all.
  • Interactivation (Score:3, Informative)

    by Doc Ruby (173196) on Sunday October 29, 2006 @10:54AM (#16631902) Homepage Journal
    Apple changed the world with their codification of UI design in the 1980s. One fundamental principle of that design is that all UI widgets must interact with the user "immediately" (< 300ms), providing feedback. Users don't just interact with the code executing the app logic - we interact with the widget, which must change state to indicate we've interacted with it. The clickwheel seemed to interact on the screen, making sounds, even though the wheel itself was inert. I hope they can pull it off with a new unconventional UI device.
  • iRiver? (Score:4, Informative)

    by dreemernj (859414) on Sunday October 29, 2006 @10:59AM (#16631934) Homepage Journal
    It sounds like they are trying to emulate the way iRiver Clix/U10 MP3/Video players work. The edges of the screen are the buttons on that one. Its a fantastic control scheme and so far the best MP3 interface I've found.

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