Should we be playing ‘Taps’ for Apple’s iPod user interface?

“Back in August, Apple and Creative Technology announced a settlement to the legal battle over the iPod’s acclaimed interface. After a dispute lasting several months, Apple relinquished to Creative’s so-called Zen Patent, which ‘covers the user interface that enables users of portable media players to efficiently and intuitively navigate among and select tracks on the players. Creative applied for the Zen Patent on January 5, 2001 and it was awarded on August 9, 2005,'” Michael Simon writes for Spymac.

“Under the terms of the settlement, Apple paid Creative a handsome sum of $100 million for ‘a paid-up license to use Creative’s recently awarded patent in all Apple products.’ At the time, I wondered why Creative accepted a rather small fee — after all, Research in Motion ended up writing $612.5 million check over its Blackberry wireless e-mail patent dispute — and didn’t demand a licensing fee for the use of its interface,” Simon writes. “Maybe it’s because it won’t be around much longer.”

Simon writes, “Think about it: With a widescreen, touch-enabled screen, the iPod’s current menu is going to seem awfully low-tech; but what if a scaled-down version of Front Row were to find its way onto the iPod?”

More in the full article here.

Related articles:
Creative does Apple’s dirty work by immediately attacking Microsoft’s Zune – September 17, 2006
Creative Tech: we will pursue all MP3 player- and cellphone-makers that infringe on ‘Zen patent’ – August 30, 2006
Apple investors cheer as Jobs wins again by getting Creative – August 24, 2006
Apple and Creative settle – the bigger picture – August 24, 2006
Analyst: Apple’s relatively small settlement with Creative removes threat hanging over iPod – August 23, 2006
Apple & Creative settle: Apple pays $100M for ‘Zen’ patent, Creative plans iPod accessories – August 23, 2006


  1. Georgy Porgy,

    Just being argumentative, what existed before Apple’s “real and functional click wheel design?” Point is, do you think the click wheel is the optimum, never to be improved upon hand-held device interface?

    When Apple has a better interface design, the click wheel will be gone. Without making the device bigger there will be no room for a click wheel – Apple’s new touch interface (around the device’s border) may be the new click wheel… Who knows Nano’s and such may keep the click wheel.

    Either way, I don’t see a touch screen…

  2. I’m always telling my wife about the ‘future’ Apple products, mainly so she won’t feel blindsided when I go out to buy them when they are officially introduced.

    Anyway, I’m bragging up the idea of a ‘virtual clickwheel’ on a widescreen iPod, and she says — “Won’t that really smudge up the screen?”

    I had no answer.

    I’m guessing that even if the technology is there for such a device, nobody is going to want to watch ‘LOST’ through their thumbprints.

    I guess that’s why I married her.

  3. the rumors indicate that you won’t have to TOUCH the screen… simply wave your finger over it.

    also, there are surfaces which don’t show fingerprints as much as others.. for example, my devices with The Invisible Shields on them are far less prone to prints than without.

  4. Look for a Front Row-esque type of interface from the new iPod. It will match with the new “iTV” interface as well.

    Its all about familiarizing the public with Apple. They did it with iTunes, now we will go a step further in the process.

    I’m brilliant.

  5. Ah, yes, SpyMac, that highly accurate rumor site. It’s amazing that once you start a site or a blog, you’re an expert.

    Like too many articles written on the Mac, I can only sigh and say, “whatever”. Much as I love MDN, face it folks, about 95% of the articles that are posted here are noise. Very little of it is real earth shattering news. This article is yet another example of the former: empty calories.

    Enjoy the candy tonight kiddies. Happy All Hallows Eve.

  6. “the rumors indicate that you won’t have to TOUCH the screen… simply wave your finger over it.

    also, there are surfaces which don’t show fingerprints as much as others.. for example, my devices with The Invisible Shields on them are far less prone to prints than without.”

    Does that mean I can wave any part of my body over this interface to make it go?

    Just think of the XXX video games a device like would be capable of . . . Now I’m definitely buying one.

  7. The click wheel or clickless wheel is intuitive. I’m sure there are many other designs that would offer better functionality but “Keep It Simple Stupid’ is a well used and still relevant phrase.

  8. the front row interface is designed for a remote that is even more limited than the clickwheel, a touch screen offers other choices, like a simple row of icons, why would u have to select the icon, if u can directly click one ?

  9. You guys got it all wrong. Thik about it… the new iPod interface is coming out the same time as the new iPhone. You will use your iPhone to call your iPod and make a musical request, just like calling a radio station to request a song. This is gonna be a big leap towards making mp3 players more user ‘friendly’ so to speak.

    The Microtheft zoon will seem very mechanical and old fashioned by comparison making it virtually obsolete before it is even realesed.

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