So AppleInsider found a patent that shows a multi-touch clickwheel. You pinch in to turn the music down and pinch out to turn it up. Blah-blah.
More specifically, the 38-page filing made just this past September describes a “multi-dimensional scroll wheel” that “can sense a moving object, such as a finger, as it is moved not only in a rotational manner but also in a linear manner across the center of the scroll wheel.” This new breed of scroll wheel would also be capable of sensing more than one object at a time, such as multi-finger touch or motion.
Look: anything in an Apple patent won’t go into production. If it does it will appear in such an obtuse way that it won’t even be recognizable as a patent. These patents are to protect the possibility of maybe getting licensing cash from some putz in Taiwan who suddenly decides to add multi-touch scrollwheels to their MP3 players. This is a defensive maneuver, not an offensive one. Sorry. But it sure is pretty to look at.