"No-Look" Interface for iPod nano Patented
A patent applied for over a year before the new iPod nano came to light - but released last week - shows Apple is considering a simplified multi-touch interface
for its smallest media player that allow a user to control it without looking at the touchscreen. Addressing issues some users have had operating the device when it's worn on a clip, the interface includes different combinations of taps and holds for playback and volume controls.
The patent application notes that having physical buttons on a device increases the size of the device, but that smaller devices with fewer buttons are difficult to operate when looking away from the device, such as during a workout. The inventor describes different ways that users could control their devices, such as a single tap to play and pause media playback, a double-tap to go to the next track and a double-tap-and-hold to fast forward.
While the iPod nano is not specifically mentioned in the patent, drawings submitted with the application clearly show the nano's small touchscreen, but without any physical button. It's not clear if this was a design that was simply rejected, or if Apple has been holding off on implementing it in future generations of the nano until the patent was firmly in hand. The patent application was submitted on June 25, 2009, and the sixth-generation iPod nano was announced on September 1, 2010.