Apple is updating its mouse technology, if an Apple patent application discovered by MacObserver is anything to go by.

The application, which was filed on February 2 2002, describes an iPod-like scroll-dial on the face of the mouse in place of the usual scroll-wheel. The dial lets users scroll up, down and sideways, and is more intuitive than scroll-wheel technologies currently employed in mice.

The application describes one benefit of this enhancement: "Users don't need to remove their finger from the disk when scrolling, as it can be rotated 360-degrees of rotation without stopping."

MacObserver speculates that the move may presage the introduction of a three-buttoned Apple mouse, which would provide optimum navigation through Mac OS X's contextual menus.