Is this the iPhone Nano? I hope not

Rumors that Apple is working on an iPhone Nano are spreading -- again. The latest batch of rumors began when an Apple patent was rediscovered.

Rumors that Apple is working on an iPhone Nano are spreading -- again. The latest batch of rumors began when an Apple patent was rediscovered.

The patent, which depicts a device with all the iPhone features you'd expect, including audio and video play, Wi-Fi, phone, SMS, and a still-image camera, has been seen before. Apple Insider uncovered the same filing just over two years ago. The patent was originally owned by John G. Elias, but is now owned by Apple, according to MacNN.

Elias is best known as the founder of FingerWorks, the company behind the technology that made the iPhone touch screen possible. FingerWorks was sold to Apple in 2005. In addition to his FingerWorks technology, Elias is reportedly working with Apple on other touch sensitive devices.

While the idea that Apple may be working on an iPhone Nano is admittedly exciting, there's only word I can think of to sum up the device described in this patent: crazy. If you take a look at the designs, the supposed iPhone Nano would have a simple front-facing display with no touch capacity, while the back of the device would have an iPod-style click wheel and possibly a numeric keypad.

That means you would have to keep your eyes on the front display, while your fingers worked madly to control the device from the backside. If you were working the iPod functions that may not be so bad, because you can use the click wheel without looking at it.

But imagine trying to make a phone call with this thing. If you have a regular phone, turn it around and see if you can dial your own phone number that way. It's a terrible way to work, isn't it? MacNN agrees with my assessment, but is willing to give Apple the benefit of the doubt.

In the post, writer Jack Purcher says "knowing Apple, I may just laugh at just how easy it really is with a little bit of practice. Time will tell on that one." We don't need time, Jack, I can tell you right now: This design is nuts. There's just no way that a company like Apple would ever come out with a device like this. It's simply an impractical and counter intuitive solution (if you can even call it a solution).

It may be that Apple is working on an iPhone Nano, but I think the company would be better off just shrinking the standard iPhone the world is already lusting after. My guess is this iPhone Nano patent is just a safeguard to keep any competitors from coming out with a similar device. As we've seen before, Apple--and many technology companies for that matter--are patent happy. If you ask me, a device like this will never see the light of day, at least not with an Apple logo on it.

The real question this patent brings up is whether we'll see an iPhone Nano in the future. It's possible, I suppose. But given the fact this iPhone Nano patent has made the blog rounds before, and the many past rumors about a smaller, more compact iPhone that have never come to fruition, I wouldn't bet on it.

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Ian Paul

PC World (US online)
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