Think Secret just recently published an article outlining the belief that Apple may be ready to start manufacturing a touch screen video iPod where the screen is the size of an entire normal video iPod. For some reason this just doesn’t sit right with me. While Apple just recently filed patents related to touch screen technology, the concept of a full screen video iPod seems almost impossible.
For starters, what would the video look like? Assuming Apple keeps with their current trend of tall, skinny players video would have to be extremely distorted to fill that entire screen. Along this thought, video will either be cropped along the sides, stretched out to fill in the player, or Apple will start contacting producers to put out widescreen versions of their current offerings. This seems like a lot of work just to get an enlarged screen.
And what about usability issues? The best part of the clickwheel scroller is that you could adjust the song you were listening to or skip to something else without even having to take the iPod out of your pocket. With a touch screen interface we lose the ability to adjust our music on the fly. A touch screen requires users to actually pull the iPod out and look over the screen before making a move. This also brings up something else. How is apple going to handle scratches and smudges. We all heard about the complaints a few months back about scratched screens and Nano plating, wouldn’t the same problem come up with a full screen player where the only interface option requires that you touch the screen? I know I’d find watching LOST kind of hard with my fingerprints blocking out half of the show. And a stylus is out of the question. That just adds to the hassle of having to carry around extra components. Sure Apple could include a free glove and cleaning solution, but how ridiculous would you look walking down the street wearing a white glove pressing invisible buttons on your full screen iPod? There would be one upside to distributing gloves with this new iPod; Michael Jackson may be willing to do a commercial or two for them.
Now let’s look at the few positive aspects of a new touch screen iPod. A touch screen would allow for content input and might even be able to be hacked to replace your palm pilot or other portable advice. Going with the hacking scheme, the iPod could even be turned into a mini tablet for illustrators on the go. When Apple first filed its new patents readers originally thought they were going to delve into the Tablet Computer market, producing their own version of the Tablet PC, but that market has virtually fallen off the face of the earth.
Okay, now for some neutral discussion. When Apple first announced the video iPod back in October, many Mac Addicts speculated that this was not the video iPod, but rather a souped up 4GB iPod with minor video capabilities. Now many are saying that this could be the true video iPod Apple has since promised. One thing is for sure, this incarnation of the iPod will most likely be extremely pricey. Some even expect a product like this to run in the $500 to $750 range.
While not much solid information has been gathered a press release is suspected by Spring, maybe as early as March or April. At the Macworld Expo in San Francisco earlier this year Steve Jobs alluded to a major announcement on April 1st, Apple’s 30 year anniversary as a company. Though it is unknown at this time it is also suspected that this iPod will also lack any wireless connectivity support. Inside sources say that this new iPod does indeed exist and sports a 3.5 inch diagonal display. The sources also report that the iPod features a digital click wheel, one that overlays the touch sensitive screen.
So what do you think of all this? Is it just nonsense? Is Apple working on a touch screen iPod, or maybe their own version of the Tablet PC? Do you think a touch screen iPod is a good idea, and would you shell out the big bucks for it? What features would you like to see, and what improvements would you like to see to the design of the iPod itself? Do you think Apple has already come up with solutions to all of the outlined products? Anything else you can think of, add that to your comment as well.
Update 1: Another user over at Think Secret posted a page with his own view of what the new touch screen iPod will look at. Check it out here
Update 2: Now there’s even a blog dedicated to the full screen iPod with some nice concepts. Check it out over at http://ipod-fullscreen.blogspot.com/
Update 3: This blog has some great details on the new iPod, and they were even kind enough to send me some traffic. Thanks guys, and good job with all the mockups you found.