Apple is possibly maybe preparing a widescreen iPod with a virtual touch-screen click-wheel. What do you think would be most annoying: the perpetual smudges, or the inevitable scratches on a surface even more fragile than the nano’s?
Not to mention that a virtual click-wheel provides no tactile feedback whatsoever, so unless you pay for and burden yourself with a remote control, there’s absolutely no way you can navigate your music library while the iPod is in your pocket*. But then, maybe that’s exactly why Apple’s FM adapter doubles as a remote.
I still think my idea for a widescreen iPod was better: a regular screen (though smaller and of lower quality than the current model’s) and click-wheel on the front, and a full screen on the back. You don’t really need that Apple logo there that much, do you? But there’s no way His Steveness could ever consider that: it’d make the iPod a hair thicker, and these days it looks like he’d almost remove the battery altogether just to make the device a couple microns smaller.
Anyway, such a drastic redesign would certainly account for the 1GB nano being too unimportant to make it to a Steve Jobs keynote, so I guess it’s pretty credible.
But what would be the difference, on the hardware side, between this iPod video and a born-again Newton? Could Apple justify using touch-screen technology without providing additional functionality, or would that actually a way to reintroduce an Apple PDA without much fuss or emphasis on the productivity aspects?
* A nice suggestion, though, in a Think Secret comment: gestures, rather than the virtual click-wheel, could let you control the iPod without taking it out of your pocket. Drag your finger left or right to change tracks, up or down for volume, double-tap or something to pause… that could work.
But I don’t think we’ve ever seen Apple express any real interest in gestures. Or have they? Oops, I’m so not interested in gestures personally, I forgot that OS X’s own Inkwell (the handwriting recognition technology mostly inherited from the Newton) does support them — only I never used that.