Rumors have been flying recently that Apple, Inc. is gearing up to introduce its first smartphone, and now there’s some fresh evidence to back these up.
Last month, Apple released an operating system update for its iPod music players, and a careful examination of this turned up some very strong clues that this company is indeed getting ready for some kind of iPod/phone combination.
According to AppleInsider, he firmware update contains references to t_feature_app_PHONE_APP, kPhoneSignalStrength, clPhoneCallHistoryModel, prPhoneSettingsMenu, prPhoneSettingsMenuView, prPhoneEnableSetting, prPhoneMenuItem, and several others.
While Motorola offers the ROKR, a phone that supports Apple’s iTunes service, this runs a completely different operating system than iPods do, and so there’s no way the references in this OS update can be for it.
Will It Be a Smartphone… or Even a Phone?
Not surprisingly, Apple isn’t saying anything about this device, leaving the public with many unanswered questions.
One of the most important of these is, “What features will the iPhone offer?” At this point there’s no way to tell whether it will be a true smartphone or a more basic feature phone with music playback capabilities.
There can be little doubt that this device, if it ever stops being just a rumor, will offer support for Apple’s iTunes music service, but it isn’t known if this will allow people to buy and download songs directly over the Internet, or if users will have to buy them on a PC then transfer them to the iPhone.
There have even been some rumors and speculation that this device won’t really be a phone at all, as it won’t include support for voice calls. Instead, it will only let users wirelessly transfer songs from iTunes.
More Evidence of the iPhone
The phone-related references in the iPod update are hardly the first evidence that Apple is putting together some kind of music playing phone.
A week or so ago, an Apple senior executive said his company is definitely doing something about expanding its involvement in the music-oriented phone market, though he declined to give any specifics.
Also, Apple has registered with a European trademark and design office several possible new interface designs for its iPod line. One of these is unmistakably for a phone/iPod hybrid.
Plus, in March of this year, it was revealed that people working for smartphone-maker BenQ have said that Apple is indeed putting together an iPhone. BenQ won’t be producing this device, but its part suppliers have supposedly told BenQ employees about it.