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Apple's [NASDAQ: AAPL] iPod Classic has retained its venerable click-wheel, but according to some patent applications floating around the rumor mill, it might be brought into the touchscreen family very soon. A new patent indicates Apple is developing a low-cost touchscreen for the original-style iPod, which will be smaller than that of the iPod Touch and will be positioned just above the click-wheel (which will remain). Instead of using glass panels as a touch surface, the new design calls for PET plastic, which is already at use in the current crop of Apple touchscreen devices.

At present, Apple has eschewed the dual-input design philosophy in its devices; the iPhone lacks a stylus, for example, and there is no sign of touchscreen Macs or MacBooks on the horizon. The additon of touch input to the old-style iPods might seem like an overdue update, but considering Apple's aforementioned skepticism around dual-input, the company could be testing the waters for bigger dual-input implementation by trialing it in the iPod Classic. Of course, like many patents, the application in question might just be preemptive action against copycat designs, but only time will tell.