Another patent has come to light in the US that may reveal some of Apple’s plans for its next-generation iPod that would be the first to do away with the critically-praised and much-copied click wheel design.

The patent shows a device with controls positioned in the bezel, or frame, around a large screen that spans across the entire front. Sensors automatically detect the orientation of the screen, and adjust so that users can hold it horizontally for video-watching, or vertically for audio and photo playback.

Until this patent came to light, it was widely rumoured that the next iPod would feature a virtual clickwheel that appeared when the screen was touched, and disappeared to allow for unobstructed viewing. Apple notes in the latest patent that the issues with virtual controls is that they overlay and therefore obscure the content being displayed.

However, this latest patent doesn’t necessarily mean that Apple is working on a player with this bezel navigation, as the company has, in the past, filed patents for devices that have never materialised.