The Ultimate iPod

flickr iPod RumourI remember when the first iPod came out (I ordered one the day it was announced. What I liked about it was the severe lack of physical interface coupled with a simple, intuitive software interface.

This image is a rumoured representation of Apple’s next generation iPod, which will focus on video capabilities. (I posted it here directly, but the original is available on flickr) Of course, the image could be a hoax, as well. There’s tons of discussion over on MacRumors. Rumour has it that this new iPod will be announced next Tuesday (February 28) at Apple HQ.

I’d like to believe this is the next iPod. There’s been talk for ages about how Apple is completely removing all physical interface and using the entire surface of the device for HD video display. Interface will be presented contextually via software when requested by finger gestures on or over the screen.

I love the concept of zero static interface in a device, especially a media player, where you really only need to engage the unit for moments at a time. It mainly just sits there, playing stuff.

There’s been a lot more of a dynamic interface feel to Apple’s software products lately (iPhoto 6 has a fair amount of it), seemingly based on “just what you need, when you need it”. This would be the opposite approach to, say, Microsoft Word, which offers you a zillion little pictographic buttons all at once, when you really only use 2 or 3 of them. (Personally, I never used any; I just shut all the menu bars down, they were so annoying, and learned the keyboard equivalents.)

But I wonder about the roll that tactility plays in a physical device. After all, the iPod’s main control is a “click” wheel. I’m sure it could have been a “touch” wheel, but there’s something reassuring from a usability perspective about receiving physical feedback from a device. (In fact, there was a model with a wheel that didn’t click, I now recall, and Apple learned that it presented usability problems and went back to the clickwheel.)

I’m no Mac rumour monger (okay, I am) but I just had to post my thoughts on this one here.

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