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Apple patent filing details iPod touch-screen interface

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By LC Angell

Contributing Editor
Published: Friday, July 21, 2006
News Categories: iPod

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A new Apple patent application has been made public that details a touch-screen interface for an iPod or tablet-style device. The patent filing, which is titled “Proximity detector in handheld device,” describes and illustrates how the interface would allow users to navigate menus and make selections by moving their finger on the screen. The touch-screen interface would sense when a user’s finger approached and would automatically display a virtual scroll wheel or other interface elements. AppleInsider has a large portion of the patent’s visual diagrams and verbatim descriptions. Apple’s long-rumored “true” video iPod is said to employ a 3.5-inch touch-screen display. The patent can be viewed at the USPTO site with full abstract and images.

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Comments

1

Yeah, I don’t like it. The scroll wheel being positioned over the media items looks like it’s going to be annoying, unless it’s so transparent that it might as well be invisible.

I hope they’re using the index finger in the drawing only because it’s easier to depict than a thumb. The iPod is a one-handed device (for me at least) and I don’t want to see that changed.

Lastly, how is it going to affect using the iPod in your pocket? Currently I primarily use my iPod by keeping it upside down in my pocket so the buttons are easy to reach. If the touch screen becomes standard, will I have to keep the hold switch on in my pocket constantly? Also, will I have to be looking at the iPod in order to operate it? As it is now, you can perform the basic operations of the iPod without having to give it a second glance. They could pull it off with this, but then you’d have to be careful about which side of the screen you were touching and, possibly, where on that side of the screen you touched.

Posted by Devil Neville on July 21, 2006 at 7:00 AM (PDT)

2

I LOVE IT - What an idea! Apple….

Posted by Whatever on July 21, 2006 at 7:28 AM (PDT)

3

A touch-screen scroll wheel interface was available on the Palm a few years ago, until Apple nixed it.

Posted by Galley in Greenville, SC on July 21, 2006 at 7:36 AM (PDT)

4

if it is anything like the touch pads on laptops, it shouldnt be responsive to anything but your finger or skin

Posted by kingofchaos on July 21, 2006 at 7:42 AM (PDT)

5

What about fingerprints? I personally would dread the idea of having prints all over the screen designed to display my videos and photos, wouldn’t you? Granted, the iPod is primarily still for audio, but for the select users who use their device to play videos, wouldn’t this cause a hassle?

Posted by briannguyen08 on July 21, 2006 at 8:00 AM (PDT)

6

Um, so other than the touch screen motions that Apple’s design mimics from the standard click wheel hardware, how does this NOT intrude on previous patents awarded to early touch screen developers?

Posted by flatline response on July 21, 2006 at 8:15 AM (PDT)

7

Um, remember kids… Apple also filed for a patent for voice activated control…  I don’t think touching your ‘Pod will be an issue.

Posted by Armie on July 21, 2006 at 8:17 AM (PDT)

8

flatline response -

The novel aspect of this patent isn’t the touchscreen itself, but the fact that this touchscreen can sense WHEN and WHERE your finger is about to hit the screen (thus the “Proximity detector”) so that the iPod can begin display the appropriate components of the control system before you touch it.

Posted by Jerrod H. in TX on July 21, 2006 at 8:35 AM (PDT)

9

Come on, this are patent drawings… if Apple decides to use the virtual scroll whell it’s going to look a lot cooler than that…

Posted by seo on July 21, 2006 at 8:58 AM (PDT)

10

I hope Apple really thinks this through. I don’t think I’d be able to cope with the fingerprints.

Posted by Daveoc64 on July 21, 2006 at 9:26 AM (PDT)

11

I’m sure Apple has thought this through… heck - I’d bet Steve Jobs is actually using one of these on a daily basis right now!

Steve always ‘test drives’ iPods like this before release to help eliminate issues and problems that may have gotten past the development team. If theres a major fingerprint problem, he wont let them release it…

Posted by expodition on July 21, 2006 at 10:20 AM (PDT)

12

It looks to me like the software could and maybe will be used on a tablet and an ipod.  some drawings represent an ipod type interface, but others seem to be itunes on a computer. Anyone else agree?

Posted by screenname on July 21, 2006 at 10:29 AM (PDT)

13

Ummm… As long as screens are made the way screens are made, and as long as people are made the way people are made, the oil from our fingers will affect screens.

Here’s an easy solution that is already being used: Cases. I’m sure there will be full cases for this thing. I’m sure they will be good enough to allow you to control the ipod and watch the movies and not affect the screen by way of oily fingers.

If there’s a major finger print problem, I’m sure Jobs will tell America to wipe their hands off after eating buckets of fried chicken or jars of peanut butter, and then wash their hands, and then dry them, and then gently use your iPod. But for the rest of us who like to watch our iPod while eating chicken and peanut butter (but not together), we will just use one of the very efficient cases. $:)

Posted by starperformer in Fort Worth, TX on July 21, 2006 at 10:53 AM (PDT)

14

Jerrod: appreciate the clarification. I guess it never pays to skim; I missed the description of the feature with my first read-through.

Posted by flatline response on July 21, 2006 at 11:24 AM (PDT)

15

a question to all—what is apple’s track record in terms of turnaround time from patent filing to product launch? i am considering purchasing a new ipod (upgrading from my 3g to take advantage of recording feature) but wondering if this patent filing is a message to wait….thanks, david

Posted by david on July 21, 2006 at 11:48 AM (PDT)

16

I can wait and survive with my 4g ^_^

Posted by Brenan on July 21, 2006 at 1:55 PM (PDT)

17

The only way I’d ever buy a touchscreen product is if were necessary to it’s function. Like the DS or a tablet. I don’t think the iPod really needs one, seeing as how it’s never had one, and I just think it’s a bad idea. I’m sure this seems great to the people that use their iPods to watch video, having a larger screen, but what about those of us that don’t give a ####? I want my iPod to play music. It’s current screen size is more then adequate to do that. If they do make the new model have a touchscreen, then they better either make a new 6 gen iPod that works just like the 5 gen, with no touchscreen, and hopefully more GBs, or never discontinue the 5 gen. Because there’s no way in hell I’m ever buying an iPod with a touchscreen. I would hope that anyone that’s ever owned a product with a touchscreen and seen how messed up it can get from just casual use would agree with me.

Posted by rainking187 on July 21, 2006 at 2:02 PM (PDT)

18

Its interesting to see Itunes illustrated there, you guys think that means you will run itunes on the new ipod, or if is Apple also introducing a tablet computer?

Posted by Amir on July 21, 2006 at 4:18 PM (PDT)

19

Actually, the first thought that came into my mind when I heard that they filed a patent for a proximity detector was to create the iPod so that you don’t actually touch the iPod screen, but move your finger over it as though the scroll wheel was actually an inch or so from the screen.

Posted by bmorrise on July 21, 2006 at 5:34 PM (PDT)

20

guys, they are not just looking at an ipod here, click the link, this is amazing stuff, itunes on a tablet with seperate windows and a touch screen keyboard.  apple is throwing the market off here.  if it is true it is extremely amazing but just remember that they are projecting this coming out in late 2007 so we still have some time. it may be just a thing where they are patenting all of these but we will only see one of them in the ipod

Posted by mike on July 21, 2006 at 9:37 PM (PDT)

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