Everybody loves the iPod clickwheel, but apparently the iPod of the future needs more buttons. Apple has filed a patent for an iPod-like device that has a touch-sensitive bezel around the display and can toggle between several different operating states.
Check out the filing, in all its headache-inducing wordiness, on the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office's site. In short, Apple wants to make an iPod that you can control, in part, through some sort of touch-sensitive input on the sides of the device. For example, if you're one of the 12 people in the world still listening to Jackson Browne, you could turn up the volume by dragging your finger along the side of your iPod, in order to drown out all that good music that's been released since 1983.
This would be a multitalented iPod as well. Apple says in its filing that the device could be a phone, gaming handheld, a navigation device, or a powder-blue ionized death laser. Yeah, we made that part up.
Patent filings aren't products, of course, and companies tend to patent everything they think of just in case they want to make a product with the technology at some point. Or if they want to sue somebody who later figures out how to do it better.