Pure Speculation: iPod nano With Touchscreen, and iTV As iPhone/iPod Accessory

Pure Speculation: iPod nano With Touchscreen, and iTV As iPhone/iPod Accessory 1

File this under “pure speculation” and “food for thought,” emphasizing “pure speculation.” Because it seems like no one* outside of Apple knows for sure what the bodies of the next-generation iPods are going to look like, apart from the iPod touch screen assembly, and there has been almost no buzz on what the components are going to be in the new iPod nano.


So, that aside, there’s been talk for two years now that Apple’s next step down from the 3.5” touchscreen of the iPhone and iPod touch would be a 2.8” display. There were photos of a supposed iPhone mini touchscreen assembly that never materialized in a product and—as noted at the time—might never do so. In the intervening years, the App Store’s roaring success made the thought of a smaller screen and different form factor a little dicey. But since June, there are now three totally different iOS device resolutions and two screen sizes, with a third apparently on the way. Apple wouldn’t have to fear splitting the App Store market again, because there are so many apps and well over 100 million devices out there. To be totally realistic, no one’s catching up with Apple any time soon.

So a 2.8” screened miniature iPod touch with 480×320 resolution wouldn’t be a huge leap of faith at this point, and the fact that there are still little chirps here and there about 2.8” and 3” screened iPods has had us curious. We did a little measuring to compare a hypothetical design against the fifth-generation iPod nano and came up with the image you see here, using plausible assumptions, showing a couple of interesting things. First, the device would be a bit wider than the current nano because of the screen, but not much taller, even if the Home button was around the same size as the ones on full-sized iPod touches and had around the same space to breathe. The loss of screen space would be noticeable but not terrible, leading more to a question of whether Apple would just shrink the existing iOS home screen or crop it with fewer icons—the squinty size of Home screen text would seem to suggest the latter, though games and other apps could be updated on an individual basis with larger buttons where necessary. It would work—at least as well as with the iPad, only in the opposite direction. You can debate whether Click Wheel or touch is the right interface for a device like the nano, what the correct physical size is for a device that fits the nano’s target markets (athletes/kids/etc), and so on, but that’s roughly what a 2.8” touch device would look like dimensionally. Shave down the screen and the rest of the device can obviously get smaller. Will it show up this year? Next year? Never? We don’t know yet.

An interesting comment regarding the continually rumored iOS refresh of the Apple TV (or, maybe iTV) comes from our own Charles Starrett, who says: “The more I think about it, I get the feeling that a $99 Apple TV might require an iOS device to serve as a remote—positioning it as an add-on to the iPod touch, iPhone, or iPad you already have, as opposed to being a standalone device, could actually boost sales. There seem to be too many missing pieces for it to actually be running iOS, be capable of running apps—as in, playing games—and still use a traditional remote. And if they have a shiny new iOS-based iPod nano that they can sell you for another $99 should you not already have an iOS device, it makes even more sense. The message: all of our media devices are now running the same OS, and use (basically) the same interface.”

Again, just food for thought. A $99 iPod nano with touch is probably too much for Apple to pull off this year. Maybe if it had a smaller-screened touchscreen device. But the idea of an Apple TV or iTV as an “iOS accessory” for the 100-million-plus iPhone/iPod touch/iPad owners—and the next 100 million that will follow sooner rather than later? Sort of like AirPort Express as a Mac accessory, only with video? Yeah. That makes some sense. To us. Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

(* = Well… There might be one or two people.)

  1. Just the thought of an iOS device on a screen smaller than that of the iPhone makes my eyes tired, but if anyone could pull it off, I guess it would be Apple.

    Personally, I’d rather see the Shuffle dropped from the line-up and the Nano take its place in a smaller form factor. I’d also like to see the iPod touch made larger yet light enough for serious eBook reading. A CDMA iPhone announcement would be welcomed too.

  2. I’ve been thinking something similar with the new Apple TV. What if there is no new Apple TV “box” and instead all of the features and memory was placed inside the next Nano, or who knows maybe even the iPod Classic. The more I keep thinking about it, the less I think needs a whole new device, why couldn’t all the iOS devices act as an Apple TV?

  3. A iPod nano with a touch screen kind of make sense, it’ll be a natural upgrade of the nano which haven’t really change much in the past few years.

    But it’ll depend whether Apple can balance the same small size form factor with usability of a smaller screen, and also whether an iPod nano with a touch screen will eat into iPod touch sales.

    We’ll see what Apple will do.

  4. It’s about time Apple transitions to an all iOS sub $900 lineup. A smaller then 3.5in screen iOS device is well overdue.

    Developers are now familiar how to design around specific UI element size independent of resolutions. A 2.8in screen with 480×240 resolution will quickly clean up those apps that had cluttered UI on the 3.5in screen.

    I just don’t see them solving the typing problem on this device. There just does not seam enough space. With that said, this new device might only allow you to have a querty in landscape view

  5. In case you hadn’t noticed, your graphic is wrong in showing the current nano as having a 2.4 inch screen. Apple website: “2.2-inch (diagonal) TFT display”.

  6. Have been using iPhone remote app with AppleTV for years, mostly for music wlaking around a party chaning tunes and volume from my iPhone everyone freaks but knowone buys it or gets how to do it?, new version of Remote App really makes your speculation ring true. It seems know one has tried it when I talk to Mac users, sure you can hookup Mac Mini to tv but that is even more geeky to try, I didn’t go that far, but using Remote App with AppleTV I have been pulling up Flickr feed searches and Youtube searches using digital iphone keyboard, it all make sense, I was hoping the AppleTV would get the iOS update and I might not have to buy another iTV, but I will to run Facebook, email, iSoccer, all them APPS on my 42″ plasma, I’d buy that for a $1, or $99 🙂 Wish I could change channels on Comcast box too, will there be an APP for that, one that doesn’t make me get IR blaster etc…. or hookup some dongle to my iphone? Go Apple! truly the only OEM trying to even bring the internet to my TV, why don’t they just make a 50″ TV with all this tech inside it for $1500.00, I’d buy that too!

  7. If they shrink it enough and keep the 480 x 320 resolution for iApp compatibility, they can claim the new Nano has a retinal display! 😉

  8. Personally if apple ever does make a form factor change to the ipod touch, I would hope that they would make the screen slightly larger; maybe 4″. I think that would make the experience even better especially for people with larger fingers or just people who want to mess up their typing less. Plus with a 4 inch display the web would just look better as well. I have a PSP-1000 and thet can fit just fine in my pocket even with all the buttons and the 4.3 inch display. I’m sure a 4 inch ipod touch would fit just fine.

  9. What I’d love to see (from Apple or someone else) is a screen that’s ebook reader-sized that could be attached to an iPod Touch or iPhone, giving you the larger viewing area for ebooks or movies without having to pay for a whole separate computer-brain by buying an iPad. I love my iPhone for its size and always-with-me portability, but as an e-reader sometimes it is a bit squinty. A larger screen as an accessory would be perfect! And it should be feasible: there are sooo many audio devices to play one’s iPod/iPhone music through; if they can do that, why not this?

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