The US Patent & Trademark Office has published a patent application from Apple that could shed light on what the company has planned for the next round of its portable music and video players.

The patent covers the ability of a portable device to watch and record live television on the go, just like the radio functionality introduced in the 5th gen iPod Nano. It'll grab content from over-the-air radio and TV, satellite radio and TV, cable TV and internet music and video services.

It'll be controlled using the scroll wheel on the classic iPods, and devices with a touchscreen will get a virtual dial. According to the patent, "a content stream may be a serialization or sequence of content. The content stream may be distributed in real time, such as a broadcast, or in non-real time, such as a network stream or podcast".

Apple has patented concepts in the past without them arriving in the market, so there's no guarantee that this will arrive in 2010, but it's an interesting look at what the company is thinking about, if nothing else. More when we get it.