Thanks to a patent application that Apple filed recently, we now have details on the next Gen iPod, perhaps even an iPhone Nano too. The one thing I gathered immediately from it is that it looks like it’s going to be a lot less thumb controlled. I don’t know about you, but right now I use my thumb to control everything on my iPod.

That won’t be the case with the next gen version because now both sides will have functionality.  Right now the back of my iPod is just a catch-all for a bunch of scratches, but now it appears as though there will be a separate touch surface on the back.


Now why would they put a touch surface on the back? Well, it would mean that you could view your iPod or iPhone Nano in full screen! When you touch the activated back side of the device, transparent controls will appear on the front of the iPod.  You could have controls such as an alphanumeric keypad if you’re dialing a phone, a QWERTY keyboard, your song list, etc.

All of this will allow for smaller versions of both the iPhone and the iPod, and full screen viewing, although I’m not sure how small you’d want to make a phone. Right now I’m picturing a phone the size of the iPod Nano and that just doesn’t seem right. How small will they go?

Just in case you want details, below is an excerpt from the patent application:

“A hand-held electronic device, comprising: a first surface having a display element coupled thereto; a second surface having a touch-surface coupled thereto, the second surface not coplanar with the first surface, the touch-surface adapted to detect a location on the touch-surface contacted by an object and an activation force applied to the touch-surface by the object; and control means for–displaying on the display element first information, control elements, and mark representing the contact’s location on the touch-surface, determining when the mark is spatially coincident with one of the control elements, determining the activation force is greater than a specified threshold, and activating a function associated with the one control element.”

“The method includes displaying first information appropriate to the device’s function on a display element on a top surface of the electronic device (e.g., video, graphic or textual information), displaying one or more control elements and a cursor on the display element (e.g., numeric or alphanumeric keys, buttons, sliders and control wheels), adjusting the cursor’s displayed position in response to an object contacting a force-sensitive touch-surface on the device’s bottom surface, and activating or executing a function associated with one of the control elements when the cursor is positioned “over” the control element and a force is applied to the force-sensitive touch-surface at a position corresponding to the cursor. In a preferred embodiment, the control elements are displayed transparently so that the first information is not totally occluded by the display of the control elements. A program implementing the method may be stored in any media that is readable and executable by a computer processor.”

Source: Unwired View