updated 11:15 am EST, Fri December 31, 2010
Diagrams depict sixth-gen iPod nano
A newly-disclosed Apple patent application suggests support of touch gestures which can be used while looking away from a screen. A recurring problem with Apple's modern touchscreen devices is the inability to control some functions while glancing away, limiting usefulness during activities like workouts. Under the proposed scheme, people would be able to control media playback through gestures that don't even require a screen to display graphics.
People could for instance tap a screen in a way that mimics or substitutes for the commands possible with Apple's inline earbud remotes. The patent also argues for special gestures, such as using a circular motion to adjust volume.
Diagrams supplied with the filing depict the sixth-generation iPod nano, the first model to switch from a clickwheel interface to one based on multi-touch. The combination suggests that Apple may have had greater ambitions for the Nano's interface, which uses a relatively modest set of gestures, most of which still require people to look at the screen. The patent application was originally submitted in June 2009.