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The End of the iPod Clickwheel

CmdrTaco posted more than 7 years ago | from the if-it-ain't-broke-fix-it dept.

158

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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Due to Unpatentability? (4, Informative)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 7 years ago | (#16631678)

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.

Re:Due to Unpatentability? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16631752)

So you are saying that the iPod can't survive in a free market?

Re:Due to Unpatentability? (4, Informative)

bsharitt (580506) | more than 7 years ago | (#16631792)

That patent was on the hierarchical UI, not the clickwheel at all.

Re:Due to Unpatentability? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16631814)

That patent was on the hierarchical UI, not the clickwheel at all.
They're tied together. One is the physical interface, the other is the way the device responds (hierarchical UI). They're waiting for patents on the touchscreen UI which has the clickwheel virtually built into it. It doesn't look like they'll get that patented either.

Re:Due to Unpatentability? (1)

mwilli (725214) | more than 7 years ago | (#16632696)

Although, it seems like the new interface could be a lot like the interface on the LG Chocolate phone with touch sensitive buttons instead of actual click-able buttons. I wonder if LG has a patent for this yet or not.

Re:Due to Unpatentability? (1)

punkass (70637) | more than 7 years ago | (#16633820)

Good luck if they did...Apple did that two generations ago with the iPod.

FP (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16631680)

FP yo.

Interesting (2, Informative)

slusich (684826) | more than 7 years ago | (#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.

Re:Interesting (1)

glesga_kiss (596639) | more than 7 years ago | (#16631850)

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.

Re:Interesting (1)

TheGavster (774657) | more than 7 years ago | (#16633498)

What tactile feeling is there on any of the touch sensitive clickwheels (ie, everything for the past few generations)?

Re:Interesting (1)

jacksonj04 (800021) | more than 7 years ago | (#16634032)

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:Interesting (2, Interesting)

mabhatter654 (561290) | more than 7 years ago | (#16632912)

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 tries to have a bigger screen and circle-like buttons and it just looks lopsided and goofy. A true video iPod would be for viewing, meaning that you'd have to be holding it with two hands to watch it.. so where would your hands be? Would they be willing to sacrifice the "iPod" experience so far for something new? I would see this as an addition to the line, not an iPod replacement.

Whatever they choose. . . (3, Insightful)

uberjoe (726765) | more than 7 years ago | (#16631704)

Iconic or not, I just want it work well and be easy to use.

if it ain't broke... (2, Interesting)

chaos421 (531619) | more than 7 years ago | (#16631720)

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.

Re:if it ain't broke... (4, Interesting)

Garabito (720521) | more than 7 years ago | (#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.

Re:if it ain't broke... (1)

PygmySurfer (442860) | more than 7 years ago | (#16632850)

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..

Re:if it ain't broke... (1)

tverbeek (457094) | more than 7 years ago | (#16632776)

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 current "click-wheel" interface eliminates most of that problem, because the buttons need to be pushed hard enough to click.

Re:if it ain't broke... (1)

metamatic (202216) | more than 7 years ago | (#16632910)

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.

Re:if it ain't broke... (1)

tverbeek (457094) | more than 7 years ago | (#16633176)

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.

Re:if it ain't broke... (1)

punkass (70637) | more than 7 years ago | (#16633906)

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).

Prior art? (1)

spreerpg (530354) | more than 7 years ago | (#16631748)

It sounds at least somewhat like the iRiver Clix. Which, given that it's already available for sale, is most likely prior art.

"If a recent patent filing is any indication..." (3, Interesting)

Wingsy (761354) | more than 7 years ago | (#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.

Re:"If a recent patent filing is any indication... (1)

hitmark (640295) | more than 7 years ago | (#16633434)

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...

Re:"If a recent patent filing is any indication... (1)

SnoopJeDi (859765) | more than 7 years ago | (#16633930)

A lot can advance in even just 5 years in the new tech world. Defensive patenting, imo, is just the latest hurdle that bright and entrepreneurial minds have to clear in order to succeed. I'm not a fan, but the system's evolved around it, for better or for worse.

Why do people consider this an OR situation? (5, Insightful)

maeka (518272) | more than 7 years ago | (#16631790)

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 (4, Insightful)

Thrudheim (910314) | more than 7 years ago | (#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.

Re: Mod parent up (1)

suv4x4 (956391) | more than 7 years ago | (#16632686)

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 little virtual hotspots they give us.

Re: Mod parent up (1)

PygmySurfer (442860) | more than 7 years ago | (#16632880)

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 hold an iPod in one hand, and scroll in one continuous motion with your thumb. I don't see how you're supposed to do that with this thing. That said, Apple patents lots of things, some end up being made, some don't.

Re: Mod parent up (1)

1310nm (687270) | more than 7 years ago | (#16634158)

The new interface would be awesome for full-screen video viewing, but it would be nice to maintain a click wheel design for listening to music. The new UI requires 2 hands, unless you have huge hands with telescoping fingers.

Re:Why do people consider this an OR situation? (1)

SilentChris (452960) | more than 7 years ago | (#16631862)

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 never does "or". They make one change and carry it across all the versions on the current product line. It keeps things simple. When they moved to touch screen buttons in the second generation, it was the whole iPod product line. When they switched to clickwheel buttons, again, the whole product line. 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.

Re:Why do people consider this an OR situation? (2, Insightful)

Thrudheim (910314) | more than 7 years ago | (#16631892)

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

Yeah, think about it: iPod Shuffle.

Re:Why do people consider this an OR situation? (1)

SilentChris (452960) | more than 7 years ago | (#16633058)

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:Why do people consider this an OR situation? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16633354)

If you are going to make an exception to your "rule" for the ipod shuffle, then you should also for the (possible) to be video ipod.

Re:Why do people consider this an OR situation? (2, Insightful)

Thrudheim (910314) | more than 7 years ago | (#16633358)

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.

Re:Why do people consider this an OR situation? (1)

Tim C (15259) | more than 7 years ago | (#16631922)

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.

Re:Why do people consider this an OR situation? (1)

SilentChris (452960) | more than 7 years ago | (#16633086)

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).

Re:Why do people consider this an OR situation? (1)

klang (27062) | more than 7 years ago | (#16632104)

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 it as an iPod basically has 3 design points going for it; white headphones, clickwheel, mirrorback.
I can see a old-school nano with the same form factor as the full iPod, but with a fullface screen. The UI softwhere would be identical on a line of fullface screen iPods and the world would be in balance :-)

I think, that we will see a period with current shuffle, nano, iPod and a fullface screen iPod (with the same back and guts as the current iPod and top of the line pricing).

Color and non-color iPods (Macs and PowerBooks) have been on sale before, no reason to think that small and big screen models can't coexist (the difference in UI sofware would not bee that big .. just like the difference between B&W and Color .. )

Re:Why do people consider this an OR situation? (1)

Bastian (66383) | more than 7 years ago | (#16632268)

Since they first came out with two models of iPod (Mini and regular) and pretty much continuously since then.

Re:Why do people consider this an OR situation? (0, Troll)

SilentChris (452960) | more than 7 years ago | (#16633140)

ARRRGGGHHH.... you're the third guy who's responded this way.

Read my comment again. SAME VERSION OF THE PRODUCT LINE. The Nano is a different version of the product line than the 5th-generation iPod. The Shuffle is a different product line.

I'm pointing out that once Apple chooses a design, they keep it consistent WITHIN THAT VERSION. You will not see two iPod 6th generations with different designs, just as you don't see two different 5th generation iPods acting differently today.

Btw, I guess what they say is true -- idiots act in groups. That's the only way I could possibly understand 3 different people not reading a comment fully before responding.

Re:Why do people consider this an OR situation? (1)

maeka (518272) | more than 7 years ago | (#16633440)

Read my comment again. SAME VERSION OF THE PRODUCT LINE. The Nano is a different version of the product line than the 5th-generation iPod. The Shuffle is a different product line


So the Nano is a different version of the product line than the 5th-gen iPod, and the Shuffle is a different line altogether?
That is why the design of the current Nano is different than the design of the current iPod?
And again, if you are willing to call the iPod Shuffle a different product line, why aren't you willing to call an iPod Movie a different product line

Btw, I guess what they say is true -- idiots act in groups. That's the only way I could possibly understand 3 different people not reading a comment fully before responding.

Yeah, it has nothing to do with your vague writing style at all.

Re:Why do people consider this an OR situation? (1)

Pink Tinkletini (978889) | more than 7 years ago | (#16634148)

What the fuck, man? You didn't think it through, and you were wrong. That's okay. Smart people are wrong all the time. But it takes a special kind of ass to proclaim the stupidity of others with the self-defensive zeal you've demonstrated here.

Re:Why do people consider this an OR situation? (1)

Random Destruction (866027) | more than 7 years ago | (#16631876)

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 harder to use blindly, as in a pocket.
Yes, but only the buttons actually click. Are we sure the buttons are part of this new screen thing, or is it only the wheel? Even if they are going to ditch the clicky buttons for touch sensitive ones, it worked on the 3g. Though I do think this is the most important point. Easy in-the-dark operation is a must.

*A non-physical-clickwheel would be an abandonment of the most iconic part of the brand.
The brand is starting to get stale. Not very stale, just starting. I think they are trying to be smart enough to change it up before everyone notices.

*A "true video" iPod would involve compromises making it a less ideal music player.
It depends what is meant by 'true video'. While it is basically true, look how happy people are watching videos on their tiny tiny ipods as is. Any improvement will be hailed as a 'true video ipod' by the masses, even if a handheld or other video player would be a much better solution.

Re:Why do people consider this an OR situation? (1)

tverbeek (457094) | more than 7 years ago | (#16633262)

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.

Re:Why do people consider this an OR situation? (1)

Ullteppe (953103) | more than 7 years ago | (#16631898)

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 it would be a good move however. If a movie iPod is to be successful, it has to have at least as good a screen as the PSP, which is kind of the yardstick right now.

Re:Why do people consider this an OR situation? (1)

zlogic (892404) | more than 7 years ago | (#16631972)

*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 consume no more power than a "small" screen (can be 15% less bright), the big screen won't consume more power.

Re:Why do people consider this an OR situation? (1)

maeka (518272) | more than 7 years ago | (#16632062)


        *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 consume no more power than a "small" screen (can be 15% less bright), the big screen won't consume more power.


"all things being equal" means any technique, technology, or trick you use to make a larger screen more battery efficient can also be used to make a small screen more efficient. Larger screens consume more power, period.

As for the hard drive issue, there is a reason the 5th generation 60/80 GB models have a 64 MB RAM buffer.

The backlight might be the largest consumer of screen power, but don't underestimate the drain caused by more pixels to refresh. As Rockbox and ipodlinux have proven w/o a doubt the CPU cycles consumed updating the larger screen of the newer iPods is a significant power drain when compared to the small screens of the Nano and 3rd generation.

Re:Why do people consider this an OR situation? (1)

Gopal.V (532678) | more than 7 years ago | (#16632114)

> 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:Why do people consider this an OR situation? (2, Interesting)

tdemark (512406) | more than 7 years ago | (#16632566)

*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.

- Tony

Re:Why do people consider this an OR situation? (1)

yabos (719499) | more than 7 years ago | (#16632860)

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.

Re:Why do people consider this an OR situation? (1)

at_slashdot (674436) | more than 7 years ago | (#16632964)

"*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 most iconic part of the brand is "iPod" and the apple sign on the back, not the wheel.

"*A "true video" iPod would involve compromises making it a less ideal music player."
You already mentioned the worse battery life, what else? To me it seems it would be just a video iPod with a bigger screen.

Bah (1)

lancejjj (924211) | more than 7 years ago | (#16631796)

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 (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16631802)

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.

Re:I hope not (1)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 7 years ago | (#16633754)

I'm also waiting for a "scrollwheel sensitivity" setting myself.

Probably not as bad as this first sounds for Apple (1)

Sunburnt (890890) | more than 7 years ago | (#16631806)

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 research, that their new interface won't turn people off to the iPod. I expect high demand among the target demographic for a cool new toy, and if there's one thing at which Apple's proved itself with regard to portable electronics, it's the manufacture of cool new toys (the jury's still out on functionality, reliability, and DRM issues, of course).

The question is (-1)

BeeBeard (999187) | more than 7 years ago | (#16631810)

Will it be replaced with a one-button mouse?

*zing!*

Re:The question is (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16632350)

Thats pretty cold. The guy was making a joke and if you don't laugh or something its overrated? I thought it was funny anyway, you stupid mods.

I'm sure i'm the minority, but i for one am glad (1)

jsolan (1014825) | more than 7 years ago | (#16631820)

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 'bumped' it inadvertently. I would've much preferred depressing the buttons to navigate around.
I'm looking forward to the new interface.

Re:I'm sure i'm the minority, but i for one am gla (1)

the_wishbone (1018542) | more than 7 years ago | (#16633126)

I'm sure you're not alone. I don't even own an iPod, but whenever I use a friend's, I always do the same thing. I'm not sure if there's a sensitivity setting, but I find myself having to put WAY too much effort to not scroll too far or not far enough. Frankly, I can't stand the clickwheel. I'd rather click, because I know exactly how far a click takes me. It's enough to make me think twice about buying an iPod when I do end up getting a decent portable DMP.

A picture is worth a thousand words? (5, Informative)

Lord Satri (609291) | more than 7 years ago | (#16631828)

The picture [macrumors.com] .

Re:A picture is worth a thousand words? (1)

MtViewGuy (197597) | more than 7 years ago | (#16631900)

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.

Re:A picture is worth a thousand words? (1)

Zantetsuken (935350) | more than 7 years ago | (#16633514)

so in other words: it looks to basically be the same principal behind the click-wheel, which is a (or a set of) touch-pads setup in a circular manner - this design would just put the touch surfaces on the outside edge of the frame, and would be easier for them to manufacture s (I would think) since the touch surfaces needed could all be a set of 4 stripes, versus however they got the current click-wheel touch surface(s) setup.

on another note, something that came to mind when I was closing my click-wheel part of the post - perhaps Apple is going this route due to the patent crap with Creative, since the same company makes the touch surfaces for Apple iPods and I think the Zen line from Creative. This might get that pest of a legal matter off of Apple's backs, would it not?

Yuk (1)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 7 years ago | (#16631856)

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.

Re:Yuk (1)

Tim C (15259) | more than 7 years ago | (#16632120)

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?

Two words: (1)

gsonic (885510) | more than 7 years ago | (#16631864)

BAD IDEA

Interactivation (2, Informative)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 7 years ago | (#16631902)

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.

patent != product (0)

Zadaz (950521) | more than 7 years ago | (#16631904)

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."

No the first one fits as well. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16633348)

I think you covered all both slashdot responces to an Apple story.
  • It might not happen, but if it does its apple so it will be brilliant
  • They will do it, and it will suck

Sony touch screen cameras (1)

LoudMusic (199347) | more than 7 years ago | (#16631906)

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. (2, Interesting)

HaDAk (913691) | more than 7 years ago | (#16631932)

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 the maximum potential screen real estate for video viewing. After all, they're not just trying to sell iPods, they're trying to sell their iTMS as well - and undoubtedly trying to push their movies.

iRiver? (3, Informative)

dreemernj (859414) | more than 7 years ago | (#16631934)

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.

No, No, No (1)

CWRUisTakingMyMoney (939585) | more than 7 years ago | (#16632006)

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 difficult to use. And as another poster mentioned, it would be damn near impossible to use blind, like if it's in a pocket or something. I just can't imagine that Jobs and Ives would give the go-ahead to this idea. It's too big of a coneptual leap, and it makes the iPod HARDER to use, not easier.

That figures. (3, Funny)

Control Group (105494) | more than 7 years ago | (#16632116)

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?)

Lots of things had this so called tech for years. (1)

insomniac8400 (590226) | more than 7 years ago | (#16632126)

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

Re:Lots of things had this so called tech for year (1)

GeffDE (712146) | more than 7 years ago | (#16634192)

I had the exact same kind. I loved it to death. Well, until something happened so that it would get so hot it would just turn off after 10-15 minutes of use. Then it stopped being so nice.

Hey, a lamp that turns off by itself...It's not a bug, it's a feature.

sex 3ith a 5ponge (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16632188)

this exploitation, 'I have 7o kill BSD's filesystem RIGHT NOW. I TRIED,

Re:sex 3ith a 5ponge (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16632576)

I don't know if I'm tired or what, but this random crap actually managed to amused me.

Patent != Product (1)

necro81 (917438) | more than 7 years ago | (#16632212)

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 speaking) ever amount to anything. Most of the IP is captured solely "just in case" they find a use for it. Oftentimes, they use those filings as leverage or bargaining chips in negotations with other companies, or for attracting customers. Even if they themselves don't commercialize it, they can license it to another company to develop. It is a common thing in the world of business: a good idea from one of your employees is worth capturing, even if its present use is not apparent.

They won't return to touch sensitive buttons... (1)

dekkerdreyer (1007957) | more than 7 years ago | (#16632266)

Anyone who owned a thrid generation ipod knows that Apple won't go back to touch sensitive buttons. The buttons on the third generation ipod were horrible. You'd have to frequently toggle the hold switch to recalibrate the ipod so it would be sensitive to your fingers. Even then, you usually got the best result when you brushed your finger past the button rather than just touching it. Apparently Apple knew this, because all future generations have gone back to tactile feedback buttons with mechanical engagement.

The current generation of ipods seems to be a good balance. I can put my ipod into my jeans and control it through the denum. The buttons are easy to find due to their attraction to one side of the ipod, and the wheel is sensitive enough to pick up the finger through the denim.

With this in mind, and looking at the history of ipod design, it looks like Apple abandoned the capacitive buttons in favor of tactile ones. You may not realize why unless you owned a third generation, but ask anyone who has and you're likely to hear a similar story.

While I can see this being useful, I can also see it being a failure. Maybe Apple is just patenting things that their competition might try.

I never really liked the clickwheel. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16632320)

First of all let me state that I have a Nano, and I don't know if it has the same clickwheel mechanism as the main line. Anyway, I've been using it for a while and I still can't get the hang of it. Using the wheel for scrolling playlists or whatever works fine. The problem is when I want to hit the middle button. I almost always inadvertently scroll up or down a few times while moving my thumb from the wheel to the button and end up going to something I didn't want. Even if I just try to hit the middle button from above I'll still catch the wheel sometimes. I think it's a good idea, but in my mind it just didn't come together.

Re:I never really liked the clickwheel. (1)

mtec (572168) | more than 7 years ago | (#16632952)

Perhaps if you had an opposable thumb...

It's interesting but... (2, Interesting)

Megane (129182) | more than 7 years ago | (#16632394)

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.

Some points (1)

UnknowingFool (672806) | more than 7 years ago | (#16632414)

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.

Re:Some points (1)

Deadguy2322 (761832) | more than 7 years ago | (#16634260)

The shuffle does not have a wheel. It has for crescent-shaped buttons circling a fifth, larger circular button. This is true of both versions of the shuffle, and is obvious from looking at it.

Bang & Olufsen (1)

network23 (802733) | more than 7 years ago | (#16632454)


Incredble that everything about the iPod comes from that Steve Jobs, like me, buys TV and stereo from Bang and Olufsen. And has been marvelled by the excellent design of Bang and Olufsen in the late 80s - mid 90s. Like the scollwheel on their cordless phone 6000 system, for 10 years and still today unrivalled as the worlds best cordless phone system.

BeoCord 6000 [bang-olufsen.com]

Also incredible that Bang and Olufsen had it but lost it. Much of their junk today is overpriced with worse specs than a Panaphonics, Magnetbox or Sorny. Their MP3-player sucks, their new tech is pwned by Microsoft and their cell phone is the worst piece of crap ever produced, overdesigned and useless. The only thing they lack is to smear their shit down with Swarowsky bling-bling. My guess is that Bang & Olufsen today is managed by clueless MBA n00bs that groks nothing.

Steve Jobs is a genius.

Re:Bang & Olufsen (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16633458)

As an owner of BeoCom 6000 (aswell as a TV and Stereo from B&O, iPod and a couple of Macs) I agree with you on most points.
The phone is very good, but when it comes to other than browsing the phone book it sucks big time. I would love if the "GUI" on the phone was more like the iPods. Now, preferences and certain buttons (like the R-button for switching between calls) i hidden behind cryptic key combos with no direct clues. The help symbols for example is almost the same color as the background. The center "scroll wheel" click button default action is displaying how many empty slots there are in the phone book instead of entering a menu. So stupid. BTW, im talking about the Europe version, don't know if there are differences.

please (1)

clackerd (797052) | more than 7 years ago | (#16632494)

so they filed a patent. apple files patents all the time - what ever happened to the one they filed about the touchless click wheel? http://www.redherring.com/Article.aspx?a=17738&hed =Apple+Ponders+a+Touchless+iPod [redherring.com] a filing like this does not mean it is the end of the road for the click wheel. the click wheel has brought apple a ton of revenue and one patent filing will not change all that. nothing to get excited about here.

Another Tool In the Shed (1)

binaryspiral (784263) | more than 7 years ago | (#16632580)

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 next iPod worthy of buying.

Now, lets say you get an iPod video and just 'have' to have a clickwheel. I can agree - having it in a pocket or a screen protecting case would make it difficult to change songs or volume.

Why couldn't this be on a corded or cordless remote? The aftermarket is already in bed with iPods - this wouldn't be a difficult device to market if Apple doesn't beat them too it.

And if nobody thought it up, well - nevermind, there's nothing to see here. (running to the patent office)

It's a patent, not promotional material! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16632792)

I'm tired of uninformed idiots taking Apple's patent filings and trying to use them to predict what the next iteration of the iPod's going to look like. It's not going to be a widescreen touchpanel with a "virtual" scrollwheel. It's certainly not going to be this ugly piece of crap.

Apple, like any tech company files a LOT of patents. Why? Because even if they're not going to USE them, they can still make money off of them if someone else DOES.

You people have to get over your unhealthy obsession with trying to predict what Apple's going to do next. I used to love reading the rumours sites because there was a sense of intregue, some mystery. Now it appears every moron with a newspaper column wants in on the fun. Only it's no fun if half the Apple "news" you read is mindless speculation about future Apple products.

So (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16632846)

Why reinvent the wheel!

Why do things like this get patents? (1)

RalphTheWonderLlama (927434) | more than 7 years ago | (#16632928)

Why do things like this get patents? The touchpad has already been invented. Will this prevent other manufacturers from putting touchpads around their screens? That's ridiculous. It just seems like everything is patented (or pending) today even if it's not an invention of any kind.

Newton or smoke screen ? (1)

Znort (634569) | more than 7 years ago | (#16632954)

This rumor might be :

1- A leak about Apple attempting to create a handheld device
The diagram on MacRumors looks very much like a Newton. Just look at the size of the finger on the button. This thing is huge !!

2- To get competitors to work on a mp3 player that doesn't look like an Ipod.

Znort

Can we ban all stories starting with... (1)

bcronin (187041) | more than 7 years ago | (#16633128)

"If a recent patent filing is any indication, Apple Computer..."

hmm.. (1)

alexultima (850430) | more than 7 years ago | (#16633404)

i have a video ipod, and i love it, but i always thought that it would be really cool if you could put the 2g (4 buttons and a wheel) interface with video. i miss that.
alexultima

Apple = fashion (1)

mapkinase (958129) | more than 7 years ago | (#16633408)

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-traditional orientation) (here are two troll points for you, modders). People of humanitarian disciplines (designers, artists, architects, ...) - using fashionable computers to create fashionable products.

The fact that Apple is gaining points in the PC market speaks volumes of who we, computer users, are becoming, and the maturity of personal computer industry.

With this I conclude my chaotic and not very well organized rant. Oh, I forgot. I abhor, deplore, hate, despise, resent fashion.

Re:Apple = fashion (1)

Vengie (533896) | more than 7 years ago | (#16633710)

take your thinly veiled mysoginist homophobia and shove it.

go back to battle.net forums where you belong. kthxbye.

Clickwheel must stay (1)

Soltys (980516) | more than 7 years ago | (#16633990)

iPod without clickwheel is not iPod

Clickwheel is symbol of iPod

click wheel not so good. (1)

giriz (966704) | more than 7 years ago | (#16634040)

Creative Zen's scroll upside down is more intuitive and you don't have to rotate hands. if you drag your finger upside down, the list will scroll down and vice versa. Also, if you scroll down and hold touching the sensor, the list will scroll faster and you don't have to move your finger except to stop scrolling. I find Zen's scroll more intuitive and easier to use.

you could say.. (1)

kbox (980541) | more than 7 years ago | (#16634134)

.. They are reinventing the clickwheel... Thank you, Thank you.. I'm here all week.

customize (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16634344)

well, a fullscreen touchpad would make the whole thing as skinable as a software-player. maybe that's their intention...
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