As Apple’s next-generation iOS devices and software come closer to release, new details continue to flow in from our sources, and a previously reliable one has chimed in with two really interesting things we hadn’t heard before. Since the first directly conflicts with rumors that have made the rounds for months, we waited to publish it until we had additional confirmation, which we received this morning.
1. New 8-Pin Dock Connector. According to two sources, Apple’s new Dock Connector features only 8 pins, seemingly contradicting claims of “16-pin” and “19-pin” connectors. Although the original Dock Connector contained 30 pins, reports of 16- or 19-pin connectors seemed hard to square with the port’s small size and Apple’s actual need for additional pins beyond what USB/Micro-USB offer. No images or parts for the connector have leaked out, either. Both of our sources concur that there are eight pins in a line within the new Dock Connector, which may well receive a different name going forward.
It’s worth noting that Apple recently received a patent on what appeared to be a 16- or 19-pin Dock Connector. It’s possible that this is for the seemingly inevitable “old Dock Connector to new Dock Connector” adapter, specifically the female side that connects to and adapts the prior 30 pins, and obviously the other side will look entirely different.
One source claims that the new connector will feature other design innovations, potentially including the ability to be connected to docks and cables in either orientation (like MagSafe),* but the other source could not confirm this or additional changes we’ve heard about; consequently, we consider other changes “quite possible” but uncertain. Given the possibility of grumbling from users regarding accessory incompatibility, it’s safe to say that Apple will attempt to pitch the new connector as superior to its predecessor in a variety of ways, and the smaller size will only be one of them.
Update: A source chimes in to confirm and explain the second detail: the male connector has 8 pins on each side, while the female connector has only 8 pins on one side. This enables the iPhone/iPod/iPad (with female port) to connect to either side of a male cable or docking plug.
2. iOS 6 + Bluetooth 4 Link. Our source also claimed that Apple is working on an as-yet-undisclosed iOS 6 feature that will act as a bridge between its Bluetooth 4-capable devices. The feature would enable, say, a future iPod nano to display iMessages received by an iPhone, record voice memos that could be shared via the iPhone, and even initiate phone calls through its own headphones. It could also conceivably let you make iPhone calls from your iPad (or possibly even recent Macs), assuming the iPhone was paired with the computer over Bluetooth. The core concept here might sound familiar to fans of HP’s ill-fated TouchPad, but our source claims that it’ll be more broadly and deeply executed by Apple.