Is This the New iPod?

Sep 7th, 2006 | By | Category: iPods & Portable Media Players

The US Patent & Trademark Office has published Apple’s patent application for a Multi-functional hand-held device, originally filed in March 2006.

Apple recently announced a Sept 12th media event, and there has been much speculation about the possibility of Apple introducing a phone and a more powerful video iPod. The Patent combines both phone and media player features, with a multi-function user interface and a relatively large widescreen display.

iPod Patent
The patent image doesn’t look like much – but it’s clear that the device features a full-face screen and mobile functionality.

Apple describes the devices as a “multi-functional hand-held device capable of configuring user inputs based on how the device is to be used. Preferable, the multi-functional hand-held device has at most only a few physical buttons, keys, or switches so that its display size can be substantially increased. In other words, by eliminating physical buttons, keys, or switches from a front surface of an electronic device, additional surface area becomes available for a larger display (our emphasis). Ultimately this strategy would allow a substantially full screen display. As used herein, a full screen display is a display that consumes, or at least dominates, a surface (e.g., front surface) of an electronic device.”

Apple’s patent is very general. Apple defines ‚Äúmulti-functional‚Äù as any device that has the capabilities of two or more traditional devices in a single device. The multi-functional device may, for example, include two or more of the following device functionalities: PDA, cell phone, music player, video player, game player, digital camera, handtop, Internet terminal [and/or] GPS or remote control.Apple also points out the multifunctionality is not limited to two functions, but can be any number of functions. In fact, the patent shows a touch-screen display with PDA, Music, Cell, Video and other functionality.iPod Multifunction device patent
There’s no way to know yet if this patent application has anything to do with upcoming versions of the iPod. Nevertheless, it’s clear that Apple is staking claim to new territory – a multi-function touch screen device that goes beyond being a media player to being a fully-capable mobile multimedia computer.
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