I hate to say I told you, but I told you: The Apple iPad is exactly what I said it was going to be except for two things: Multitasking and the touch-sensitive bezel. Guess what Apple just did.
Yes, they registered a method to do the last thing. The US Patent and Trademark Office just published patent 7,656,393, which describes the use of a touch-sensitive bezel to bring hot corners up on the main screen.
An electronic device has a display and has a touch sensitive bezel surrounding the display. Areas on the bezel are designated for controls used to operate the electronic device. Visual guides corresponding to the controls are displayed on the display adjacent the areas of the bezel designated for the controls. Touch data is generated by the bezel when a user touches an area of the bezel. The device determines which of the controls has been selected based on which designated area is associated with the touch data from the bezel. The device then initiates the determined control. The device can have a sensor for determining the orientation of the device. Based on the orientation, the device can alter the areas designated on the bezel for the controls and can alter the location of the visual guides for the display so that they match the altered areas on the bezel.
I've included an explanation of what their invention can do in the gallery:
This is pretty much what I already proposed in my Apple tablet user interface article, both as a solution for the positioning of the home button—which, as Mark points out, is awkward to use in portrait mode—and as a way to invoke different menus and switch between running applications. Whenever the hell they enable multitasking in the iPhone OS, that is.
You can see how hot corners may work using this sensitive bezel here:
We don't know if Apple will finally implement this patent or not, but it certainly makes a lot of sense to make the iPad more powerful, while keeping the user interface as easy to use and intuitive as it is now.