Next-generation iPhones likely to focus on internal improvements.
Gestures, Apple Tablet and iPod Images and Mockups
Apple Gesture User Interface patent applications revealed last week showed a number of images demonstrating the use of virtual iPod-like click-wheel on a tablet interface. The patent images show examples of use with iTunes, iPhoto, Word Processing and iPod interfaces. This has led to a number of mockup images of what a full-screen Video iPod would look like.
The same patent demonstres the use of gestures to perform basic operations, including panning over images as well as zooming in (zoom). A video demonstrating "Multi-Touch Interaction Experiments has been circulating that gives live demonstrations of such technology in the use of photo and map manipuation. The video has no association with Apple, but provides an impressive demonstration of the concepts behind the patent application.
Initial user reactions to the possibility of such a touch-intensive interface has drawn concerns about scratch problems which has been a point of contention with the iPod nano. Wired, however, discusses a new coating technology designed to protect such surfaces:
The wonder coatings also might make small video screens on electronic devices such as iPods and mobile phones more durable.
No real timeframe or even potential use by Apple is mentioned in the article, but does provide some interesting progress in a relevant technology.