An Apple patent application that describes multitouch gestures indicates the forthcoming launch of a new mouse or keyboard rather than the predicted Apple iTablet, industry watchers now believe.

The patent, unearthed by AppleInsider, describes a touchscreen typing and pointing device, combining both so your hands never have to leave. Palms would be differentiated from fingers, and the device would know when you're typing and when you're pointing.

The language of the patent application suggests that Apple is referring to a new kind of keyboard and mouse combo, rather than an oversized iPod Touch.

"Many attempts have been made to embed pointing devices in a keyboard so the hands do not have to leave typing position to access the pointing device," the application reads. "The limited movement range and resolution of these devices leads to poorer pointing speed and accuracy than a mouse, and they add mechanical complexity to keyboard construction."

The patent application says there's a need for higher-resolution pointing methods that are still accessible from the typing position. This device would know when the user wants cursor motion, and ignores other gestures when the user is simply decelerating with the pointer.

Experts reason that users of a tablet computer would have no need of a cursor, since everything is right there on the screen already. The capability to tap directly on icons and buttons eliminates the need for mouselike functionality. And with a virtual keyboard taking up most of the screen, that pointer would be largely useless unless the output is coming from a different screen.

Rumours suggest that Apple planning a new kind of keyboard, designed to kill the traditional mouse and keys combo.

See also:

Hey Apple: don't mess with the Mighty Mouse

Reports: Apple tablet to launch early 2010

Patents point to Apple tablet PC in 2010

PC World: Apple patent is probably for a mouse, not the tablet