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The End of the iPod Clickwheel 158

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the if-it-ain't-broke-fix-it dept.
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@gmFREEBSDail.com minus bsd> 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.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.
    • That makes sense. An actual on-screen wheel wouldn't work. There's an iPod clone for the PocketPC platform which was promptly cease & desisted by Apple's lawyers. If you do get your hands on a copy you quickly realise that the lack of tactile feeling on the wheel makes it awkward to use.
      • What tactile feeling is there on any of the touch sensitive clickwheels (ie, everything for the past few generations)?
        • Re:Interesting (Score:4, Insightful)

          by glesga_kiss (596639) on Sunday October 29, 2006 @04:52PM (#16635162)
          What tactile feeling is there on any of the touch sensitive clickwheels (ie, everything for the past few generations)?

          It's not entirely flush with the case, is it? I'm not too familiar with the most recent models, but as far as I'm aware the wheel itself has a slight relief against the case, guiding the thumb around it. On a completely flat screen, you can "colour outside the lines" and go off the screen unless you are actually looking at it at the time.

        • I think the reference of tactile feeling has more to do with the click wheel than the scrolling part of it (thats what this is all about after all). Ipods had a scroll wheel long before the click wheel (like the 3g ipod with the row of 4 buttons above the wheel)...the click wheel came from the mini and the 4g ipod and specifies the wheel that scrolls when you move your finger but actually "clicks" when you press it left/right/up/down. The play/pause/etc buttons are all controlled with these clicks.

          On a

      • Just out of interest, are you talking about the actual 'click', or the using the wheel to scroll? No iPod after 2G has had a physically clicking-round-in-circles wheel afaik.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by mabhatter654 (561290)
      the goal is probably to reduce front side real estate taken up by that big round click wheel. If they want to have the "real" video iPod landscape mode with the full front face as viewable area, then they have to ditch the clickwheel. Also, they can't make a new Video iPod much bigger because it would break the huge base of dock connector accessories they've built up. It needs to be a screen with no visible buttons on it, but touch screen is too much hassle... see the corner they're getting into. Zune trie
  • by uberjoe (726765) on Sunday October 29, 2006 @10:19AM (#16631704)
    Iconic or not, I just want it work well and be easy to use.
  • if it ain't broke... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by chaos421 (531619)
    i hate to say it... but apple may be cutting their own throats here if this change goes through. you know the old saying "if it ain't broke, don't fix it." however as the current masters of electronic aesthetic design, i'm sure they have many many intelligent people working on this.
    • by Garabito (720521) on Sunday October 29, 2006 @10:55AM (#16631912)
      you know the old saying "if it ain't broke, don't fix it."

      Apple is known for not following that rule. For instance, when the iPod nano was introduced, it replaced the iPod mini, which was doing very well on the market. Hardly any other company would have done that because of the conservative "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" mindset of the corporate world.

      • Interestingly enough, the second generation Nano reverted to the style of the Mini (albeit in the smaller Nano form factor).

        Personally, I like the original Nano more than the new aluminum ones..
      • The "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" mindset? Well that's usually in competition with the "must have new shiny things" mindset from marketing which often leads businesses to throw away working designs in order to sell something new.
    • by tverbeek (457094) *
      I hope this doesn't mean a return to the 3G iPod's can't-use-it-without-looking-at-it and no-tactile-feedback interface. I had one of those, and hated it: because the control buttons only needed to be touched (not pushed), I routinely found it accidentally forwarding to the next track when I was just picking it up to pause it. Using it in the dark was tricky, because by the time I'd touched a control to activate the backlight... I'd already touched a control and it had paused or reversed or whatever. The
      • by metamatic (202216)
        Horses for courses. I have a 3G and a 4G iPod, and I vastly prefer the virtual wheel and separate control buttons of the 3G iPod.
        • by tverbeek (457094) *
          I don't care if the buttons are separate from the wheel or not. I just hated the fact that the hair-trigger "buttons" on the 3G were too easily activated by accident.
          • by punkass (70637)
            I have a 3G, use it every day on the train. I've found that the trick is to leave the hold button when it's in your pocket, that way, if you're in the dark and want to read the screen or use a control, turning the hold button off activates the backlight (without changing anything else).
  • by Wingsy (761354) on Sunday October 29, 2006 @10:35AM (#16631786)
    "If a recent patent filing is any indication..." Well, it isn't an indication of any such thing. Apple patents stuff alla time and some things make it and some don't. Just because you see Apple filing a patent doesn't mean they will do anything with it. More likely in this case it is to prevent others from marketing the idea.
    • ugh, defensive patenting. what an idea...

      how long does a granted patent last again? 20 years?

      something tells me that if a product have not made it to marked within the first 1/4 of the patent length, said patent should be under review for termination.

      defensive patenting is one of the ills of the patent system...
  • by maeka (518272) on Sunday October 29, 2006 @10:37AM (#16631790) Journal
    Let us assume for a minute that Apple actually plans on producing one of these new interface designs that show up in patent applications from time to time.
    Why does everyone seem to assume that one of these newfangled non-physical-clickwheel interfaces will be used on a replacement for the iPod as we currently know it? I mean, most of the complaints are right on the money:
    *A full screen iPod would have worse battery life, all things being equal, than an iPod with a smaller screen.
    *A non-physical-clickwheel would be harder to use blindly, as in a pocket.
    *A non-physical-clickwheel would be an abandonment of the most iconic part of the brand.
    *A "true video" iPod would involve compromises making it a less ideal music player.
    All these arguments (and more) being legitimate, why do people continue to get worked up in a lather every rumor?
    Why do people fail to realize that one of these new interface designs, if one ever shows up, will likely be on a new iPod model, not a replacement, but an additional model (video oriented) from which to chose from?
    • Re: Mod parent up (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Thrudheim (910314) on Sunday October 29, 2006 @10:44AM (#16631842)
      Nailed it on the head. This design is *not* intended to replace the clickwheel on regular iPods. Anyone who thinks that is not using their noggin. It is clear that the target of this design is the long-rumored, video-oriented product. Move the controls off the front of the device in order to allow the screen size to increase substantially. That's it.
      • by suv4x4 (956391)
        Move the controls off the front of the device in order to allow the screen size to increase substantially. That's it.

        Yea that's it. And it sucks. Apple has had a tendency to produce devices that look interesting and unique but are less usable in real life. They did it with the Mighty Mouse, and now they are back to this.

        How is a thin strip on the edge of the screen better than a regular touch screen?

        While a strip may be good for scrolling and scrubbing, I can see myself picking the wrong track with those li
        • Yea that's it. And it sucks. Apple has had a tendency to produce devices that look interesting and unique but are less usable in real life. They did it with the Mighty Mouse, and now they are back to this

          Any other examples? I haven't used a Mighty Mouse, but plenty of people seem to like them just fine. I can't think of any other nice looking but not especially usable products they've made.

          How is a thin strip on the edge of the screen better than a regular touch screen?

          I have to agree with this. You can
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by G-funk (22712)
          How is a thin strip on the edge of the screen better than a regular touch screen?
          Because fingerprints on your viewing screen suck balls?
      • by eclectic4 (665330)
        "It is clear that the target of this design is the long-rumored, video-oriented product. Move the controls off the front of the device in order to allow the screen size to increase substantially. That's it."

        A reason for the confusion may be that the actual patent filing shows it navigating songs, not movies.
    • Since when has Apple ever placed two different UI designs on the same product line? Think about it.

      You buy an iMac, doesn't matter what version (17, 20 or 24-inch). They all act exactly the same. None have different buttons or a different design.

      You buy a Mac Book -- ditto. One is black, but outside that they all act the same.

      All of Apple's computers (outside servers) use the same OS. None of that "Windows XP Home", "Windows XP Pro" crap.

      The reason why it's not an "or" proposition is because Apple neve
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Thrudheim (910314)
        "Since when has Apple ever placed two different UI designs on the same product line? Think about it."

        Yeah, think about it: iPod Shuffle.
        • I said same version of the product line. E.g. all of the 5th-generation iPods, then all of the Nanos, etc. Try reading the comment BEFORE posting. Thanks.
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Thrudheim (910314)
            Then why is it so surprising to you that the "true" video iPod might have a different UI than the regular iPods? It's a different product line -- just like the Shuffle is a different "product line" in your terms. That's the whole point of the parent poster, which you seemed to miss.

            • The parent poster's argument was that Apple wouldn't release a new interface on the iPod because that would create an "or situation". My argument is that Apple would just axe the original iPod style (carried through to the current generation with minor modifications) and release the new video iPod as "the" iPod. The reason they'd do this is because the wouldn't ship two versions of the "regular iPod" that do video, with one doing it in 4:3 and a clickwheel with the other doing it in 16:9 -- it'd be asinin
              • by Thrudheim (910314)
                I think you are misinterpreting the parent poster's argument. The point is not that Apple won't release a new interface. The point is that the new interface would have disadvantages as a replacement for the clickwheel interface on regular iPods. Therefore, if the described new interface appears at all, it would only appear on a new, video iPod. As that poster concludes, "Why do people fail to realize that one of these new interface designs, if one ever shows up, will likely be on a new iPod model, not a
              • by maeka (518272)
                Thrudheim gets it.

                The parent poster's argument was that Apple wouldn't release a new interface on the iPod because that would create an "or situation".

                Not at all, my question was "Why do people think Apple will use a new touchscreen OR clickwheel."
                My argument was, again as summed up by Thrudheim, that I believe Apple will release a touchscreen/touchbezel iPod, but it won't be a replacement for the current (music "with video") iPod, but an additional model from which to choose from.
                Notice again the Subject o

      • by Tim C (15259)
        The reason why it's not an "or" proposition is because Apple never does "or".

        Excuse me? Desktop or server? Nano or iPod or Shuffle (and once, or Mini)?

        I really don't see it as such a big stretch to Audio iPod or Video iPod.
        • Why are people missing the "same product line" portion of my comment? Are you guys actually reading the comment before responding?

          As I said, all of the iPods IN THE SAME PRODUCT LINE share the same characteristics. All of the iPods 5th generation. All of the Nanos. Those are different product lines with completely different hardware and software. The "iPod" name is just branding.

          The only time things change in an existing product line is when they make a permanent change (iPod Shuffle then and now).
          • by TommydCat (791543)
            The Apple iPod is a product line, not just a brand-name... Funny how we can make our own definitions and change them on the fly to suit our arguments, eh?

            Wikipedia [wikipedia.org] refers to all the iPods as a product line:

            The iPod Nano and Shuffle never supported FireWire, and FireWire support was finally dropped entirely from the product line with the launch of the USB-only 5th generation iPod.

            the product line (emphasis mine)...

            A definition for "product line" [reference.com]

            1. all of the products carried by a manufacturer, wholes

      • by klang (27062)
        They make one change and carry it across all the versions on the current product line. It keeps things simple.

        This is why I didn't see the new nano design comming from a mile away.. The old nano design was more in line with "the iPod look".

        If they decide to go to a virtual clickwheel, or pressable virtual buttons along the side, whatever -- they'll carry it through the whole iPod (regular version) line.

        If Apple dismiss the iconic clickwheel, they'll have to revert the nano to a "mirror back design", seeing
      • by Bastian (66383)
        Since they first came out with two models of iPod (Mini and regular) and pretty much continuously since then.
    • Let me take a stab at some of these
      *A full screen iPod would have worse battery life, all things being equal, than an iPod with a smaller screen.
      I don't think apple is terribly concerned with battery life. Their players have never had amazing life, even compared to replacement batteries for the same players. I can double the life of my 3g by putting a new battery in. While this point is valid, there are larger capacity batteries around that they could easily switch to.

      *A non-physical-clickwheel would be
      • by tverbeek (457094) *

        Even if they are going to ditch the clicky buttons for touch sensitive ones, it worked on the 3g

        I thought the reason they ditched that design to return to clicky buttons on the 4G was the fact that the touch-sensitive "buttons" didn't work: too easy to "press" by accident when you merely handle the device, and made using the device almost impossible to use in the dark without fumbling across the wrong control. On a completely smooth surface, they'd be impossible to use in the dark.

        • by shmlco (594907)
          You could always ignore the first touch and use it to "wake up" the interface (present the edge-of-screen guides), similar to the way in some UIs a click on an inactive window brings it to the front but isn't passed to the window's interface.
    • by Ullteppe (953103)
      Nokia &co are already looking into this, they have done some design studies of cellphones with a screen covering the whole front (candybar type). In my opinion this makes a lot of sense, really the thing holding many handheld devices back is the screen. This is a concern especially on the cellphone front, as they they suffer from the small screen when you consider that Nokia's vision is to make the cellphone into a computer.

      That said, I don't think a touchscreen enhances today's iPod. For a movie iPod i

    • by zlogic (892404)

      *A full screen iPod would have worse battery life, all things being equal, than an iPod with a smaller screen.

      Well, my PDA has a worse battery than my mp3 player (it has a 240x320 screen). Yet the PDA's battery lasts 2-3 times longer between recharges that the mp3 player (iRiver h320). It seems that the hard drive consumes a lot more energy than the screen, even a relatively large one. Oh, and the most consuming part of the screen is the backlight. If Apples makes a larger screen and sets the backlight to

      • by maeka (518272)

        *A full screen iPod would have worse battery life, all things being equal, than an iPod with a smaller screen.

        Well, my PDA has a worse battery than my mp3 player (it has a 240x320 screen). Yet the PDA's battery lasts 2-3 times longer between recharges that the mp3 player (iRiver h320). It seems that the hard drive consumes a lot more energy than the screen, even a relatively large one. Oh, and the most consuming part of the screen is the backlight. If Apples makes a larger scree

        • by shmlco (594907)
          The extended battery life on the 5.5g iPod does demonstrate, however, that Apple is starting to realize that people want to actually USE their toys. I fully expected them to shrink the battery even smaller so they could announce the "new" iPod was again thinner than the old one.
    • by Gopal.V (532678)

      > why do people continue to get worked up in a lather every rumor?

      Well, I propose that mankind evolved its complex sense of language in reponse to an instinct to complain^W gossip. And then there's His Steveness [geekculture.com] (no, not Steve Irwin).

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by tdemark (512406)
      *A non-physical-clickwheel would be harder to use blindly, as in a pocket.

      Not necessarily.

      Consider a large-screen iPod where the whole screen is a click wheel - when you press up, down, left, or right, the whole screen pivots the way the wheel currently does now.

      Additionally, build in "gesture" recognition so the unit can determine when you are drawing a circle and interpret the motion, regardless whether or not your finger is rotating around an absolute origin or within some artificial radial boundary.

      - To
    • by yabos (719499)
      You are right. A virtual click wheel or the strips along the side makes sense for a video device because you're obviously looking at the thing all the time while it's playing a video.
    • "*A full screen iPod would have worse battery life, all things being equal, than an iPod with a smaller screen."
      Live's tradeoffs... I'm sure though that smart software could reduce the consumption when it's working in music mode.

      "*A non-physical-clickwheel would be harder to use blindly, as in a pocket."
      Three words: iPod Radio Remote

      "*A non-physical-clickwheel would be an abandonment of the most iconic part of the brand."
      Bollocks! iPod shuffle doesn't have a clickwheel and it's still pretty successful. The
  • by lancejjj (924211)
    If a recent patent filing is any indication,

    These days, patent filings are rarely indicative of the delivery of any product.

    In fact, the claim is often made that patents are usually filed exclusively to create barriers for competitors.
  • I hope not (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    The touchwheel is finicky enough as it is, always going one past the selection I want, or moving when I lift my finger to select. I can't imagine using a touchscreen is going to be any better.
  • My first reaction was of the "Bad idea to tamper with highly successful idea" sort.

    Then again, I remember more than a few people casting aspersions on the click wheel interface, myself included, generally focusing on the perceived unreliability of touch-sensitive inputs, especially in the environments where people will use an iPod.

    I'm going to assume that the marketing and design folks at Apple aren't going to commit production to a change this major until they're certain, beyond cursory focus group r
  • I just got my first ipod last week, its a 30G ipod video. I won it as a prize. I have a PDA which i've always felt sufficient for listening to music and watching movies, although limited in storage space. I figured i'd give the ipod a shot because it has a longer battery life and a lot more storage. I don't know if its because i'm coming from a touch screen interface to the clickwheel, but i didn't like the clickwheel. Although i think the design to be 1 handed is nice, i constantly missed my mark and
    • by MtViewGuy (197597)
      I think the reason why Apple is going to a full touch-screen interface is due to the impending arrival of the true video iPod with its 16:9 aspect ratio widescreen display. And it's likely this new iPod will be the only device to use this new interface.

      Meanwhile, the regular iPod interface will probably still be around for the audio-only iPods for the foreseeable future.
  • by nurb432 (527695)
    That is one of the reasons i like the ipods over the alternatives.

    Why is it in todays world companes cant leave well enough alone? if it works, they dont NEED to break it, just to push out new product.
    • by Tim C (15259)
      if it works, they dont NEED to break it

      I think it's a little soon to call this broken; how about waiting until it's actually released before writing it off?
  • 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.
  • Apple computer has thousands of patents, a large fraction on things they never plan on brining to market. They're just covering their ass.

    (Though if they make a full screen video iPod I'd rather touch the edge than wipe my greasy finger on the face.)

    Whoops, wrong response. How about "OMGWTF? plz don't fk with my ipod, lozrs!"
    Or "Typical moron Apple move. DRM sux."
  • Have any of you had a chance to use the Sony cameras with touch screens? OMG! It works shockingly well. They replaced the five button (four directional and one center) along with various other buttons with a new layout on the enlarged screen.

    I think we're going to see an iPod much like that. The whole face of the device will be one big 'wide' screen and the buttons will be right there on the screen. A bigger display and bigger buttons.

    Haven't we already seen 'rumors' of this design?
  • Yes. That. (Score:1, Interesting)

    by HaDAk (913691)
    When you are holding an iPod, you have a thumb on the front, and four fingers on the side. If you turn the iPod on it's side - it becomes a 16x9 screen that takes up the entire surface real estate. If the iPod is held sideways as such, you would hold it with a thumb on the bottom, a finger on the top, and three fingers dangling behind. The thought I'm having is simply this: relocate the clickwheel from the front....to the back, where your middle finger would be able to control it; and thereby giving you th
  • 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.
  • I'd hate this. The main feature that differentiates the iPod from anything else is the clickwheel. Replacing it with anything else, even a "virtual" wheel, is a Bad Idea. The whole point is tactile feedback. With a touch-screen control, I don't really know if the iPod "heard" what I was telling it. It would make me feel disconnected from the device, which is exactly what Apple tries to eliminate. With real feedback that I can feel (and hear, if it's in a quiet environment), it's much more inuitive and less
  • Here's a picture of what it might look like: http://guides.macrumors.com/Image:Ipodvideo.jpg [macrumors.com]
  • by Control Group (105494) on Sunday October 29, 2006 @11:24AM (#16632116) Homepage
    I finally broke down and bought an iPod thirty-eight - no, nine (thank you, DST) - hours ago, and now they're going to change it all up? The rat bastards.

    Looks like all my years of supercilious PC-user loathing for all things Apple were justified, after all!! Well, I'll show them - just you wait to see what I do with those Apple stickers you so helpfully put in the box...JUST YOU WAIT.

    (Yes, I have been up all night migrating DBs, bouncing servers, and racking crap in our cage. How could you tell?)

  • I think I had a lamp 15 years ago that would turn on, dim, and turn off by touching any metal on it.
  • FTFA: "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."

    Need I remind the writers of the Mercury News that, just because a company has filed for a patent on something, does not mean that they intend to roll it out in their product line. Look at IBM, the most prolific filer of patents in the world. Of the thousands of patents they are granted each year, only a small handful (comparatively s
  • by Megane (129182) on Sunday October 29, 2006 @12:01PM (#16632394) Homepage

    How are you going to hold the damn thing when every spot along the edge does something?

    Just because they patented something doesn't mean they're going to use it. It may turn out to have inherent problems which make it unusable.

  • A few things to point out. As the article mentioned, Apple just filed a patent on an idea. It doesn't necessarily mean that it will happen. Two, the patent seems to cover just a video iPod with a full screen. That doesn't mean that all iPods would adopt the new interface. An iPod Shuffle has a different wheel than the 5G and the nano. Even if Apple were using, they are probably not abandoning the click wheel completely.
  • Sure, Apple may be making a full screen ipod. And there are a lot of tactile features it'll be lacking - or will it?

    Lets look at the device for what it is - a video player. A larger screen attached to a hard drive and battery. Designed for playing movies on a larger screen that your standard ipod.

    Apple will still have iPods designed for "pocket use". They aren't going to slap a full screen on a nano or shuffle. That would be silly. Apple will continue to increase the storage of these devices to make the nex
  • So (Score:3, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 29, 2006 @12:58PM (#16632846)
    Why reinvent the wheel!
  • Apple is equal to fashion. How is fashion different from technological innovation?

    Both are about bringing new replacing the old. In case of fashion it is superficial replacement, in case of technological innovation it goes much deeper.

    TA tells us about a rumer on a typical new Apple fashion. So were modifications of the Macs, MacII -> iMac, etc. Most of the features of new OS's are about fashion as well. Apple is notorious for doing just that.

    No wonder girls like Apple more than guys (or folks of non-tra
    • by Vengie (533896)
      take your thinly veiled mysoginist homophobia and shove it.

      go back to battle.net forums where you belong. kthxbye.
    • by MrMickS (568778)

      The parent is the single biggest piece of opinionated tripe I've ever read (except perhaps for this).

      PS. Please mod as flamebait .. but it you do mod the parent as such too

  • 'If a recent patent filing is any indication'...

    It isn't.
  • It's a music player, not a PDA. It should be designed so you can operate it blindfolded.

    The Shuffle has it right. A D-Pad with the five important controls: forward, back, volume-up, volume-down, and play/pause. Additional controls can be added for devices that have a display. That bit can even be touch-sensitive, but the basic controls have to be usable by feel even when the display controls are locked.
  • Apple won't dump the Click Wheel yet. Just because Apple patented the scroll strips doesn't mean it'll be the next big thing. Anyone remember when Apple patented a tablet design? Everyone went nuts saying "the iTablet will be announced at the next MacWorld." I have yet to see an iTablet. Have any of you seen an iTablet yet? Didn't think so.

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