What's Hiding in Apple's Guitar: Touchscreen iPod Nano, and All Tomorrow's Rumors

Apple iTunes event

Apple's September special event is tomorrow. Traditionally it's iPod refresh time, and iPod-esque rumors are indeed a-swirling. But does Apple have something else hidden inside its PR guitar? 

iPod Touch Refresh

The biggest, but least exciting thing that'll happen tomorrow is that Apple will reveal the latest iPod Touch. We're all expecting it, and if history is any guide then it'll inject some--but not all--of the new thinking incorporated into the iPhone 4 directly into a shiny new iPod Touch.

From the rumors here's what to expect: 

  • Retina display.
  • Apple A4 processor.
  • Possibly the same storage options.
  • Rear-facing camera, either 3-megapixel or 5-megapixel.
  • Possibly a front-facing VGA-res camera for FaceTime video calls.
  • Perhaps an iPhone 4-esque metal frame for the screen.
  • A squarer-looking rounded shell.
  • At the edges of possibility, some rumors indicate the Touch may get a data-only 3G option like the iPad.

And what not to Expect:

  • Not everyone is convinced it'll get a front-facing camera for FaceTime.
  • No glass back.

iPod Nano Touchscreen: The Nano Touch?

ipod-cases

Months ago a weird Apple-branded 1.7-inch square LCD-touchscreen leaked from a Chinese parts manufacturer. It was quite definitely an Apple part (it was too convincing to be an extraordinarily elaborate fake). But nobody could tell if it was part of a new device, or one of many prototype/experimental creations that we know Apple tests on a regular basis.

Then the "leaked" Nano cases began to arrive, and the form factor was eerily similar. The Nano is now pretty certain to get a serious refresh, adopting a form-factor that's reminiscent of the second-gen iPod shuffle--complete with rear-mounted clip to fasten it to clothing. It'll still come with a classic 30-pin connector, to ensure compatibility with the host of iPod peripherals that already exist, and most-likely a bottom-mounted headphone socket which will be compatible with dedicated docks. The top seems to have three buttons: A classic-style iPod "lock" button to disable accidental activation in your pocket, and two close-set round buttons that remind us of the iPhone 4's metal volume controls.

No one has any idea what's inside, but it's plausible Apple's used more of its new ARM cleverness to put a low-power CPU in there to drive the touchscreen and give the diminutive device decent video-playing powers. Will it sport a flavor of iOS, and hence earn its own spot in the App Store? That's unknown.

Still: Here's what we think it'll look like.

If Apple does revamp the iPod Nano into a touchscreen device, and ditches the iPod Classic (which is pretty likely, we think), then it's the de facto death of Apple's famous, much-copied click-wheel interface. Farewell, dear finger oil-magnet!

.99 Cent TV Show Rentals

There are signs that Apple could launch a new version of iTunes that's cleverer at social-media sharing--possibly even backed-up by the long-fabled cloud-based iTunes. But it could also be time to reveal its equally-long-fabled ramp-up of video content. Some analysts suggest $0.99 TV show rentals are on the way, driven by a novel new partnership with Rupert Murdoch's businesses.

iTV Replaces Apple TV

We've heard several rumors about an Apple TV rehash, one that takes the "hobby" project to new levels, bolts-in App Store powers through iOS software, and ditches internal storage for a cloud-based storage option. These rumors do make sense, in a number of ways, and we believe Apple will definitely do it sometime soon. Just not tomorrow. If it does reveal the "iTV" tomorrow, it'll have been an incredibly well-kept secret, with nary a drib nor drab of leaked hardware or software or even gossip about it in the days and weeks beforehand.

7-inch iPad

A few sources suggest Apple's got a smaller, more pocket-friendly iPad on the way. It would appeal to many users who'd prefer a smaller form-factor that's not as small as the iPhone, and the corresponding reduction in its price would place it within affordable reach of many more consumers. It would also be direct and powerful competition for the oncoming tide of 7-inch Android tablets.

It may show up tomorrow. But given the guitar used for Apple's promotion of this event, it's a longshot.

To keep up with this news follow me, Kit Eaton, on Twitter.

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1 Comments

  • Hugh G Johnson

    Sorry, I didn't mean to rant, and I hope you can use this for some good purpose.

    I needed some inspiration and thought I need to get back to my roots! FC is the place! Yeah! Then I get here and FC has just become another Apple Fanboy site. And now that I stop reflex why I haven't visited in years. The reason I stopped reading or visiting FC in the first place is because of these types of shenanigans. Honestly, I could go to a dozen more appropriate sites to get the latest geeky news, but I came here to learn and be inspired about business. And don't get me wrong, as business person I do care about technology and tools, but I really don't need to get down to the motherboard level or browse regurgitated specs, especially on FastCompany.com.

    Again, sorry, didn't come here to rant.