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Apple iPod team seeks Wi-Fi engineer

Portable player as AirPort Express remote control?

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Apple is looking for two iPod hardware engineers both with Bluetooth and Wi-Fi experience, opening the possibility that the portable music player may be upgraded with wireless connectivity.

The job applications - which you can view here and here - were posted on behalf of Apple's iPod division and call for candidates with "a consumer electronics background dealing with high volume, low power, high quality products".

The iPod is certainly a good candidate itself for wireless connectivity. Its PDA-style synchronisation with not only iTunes but Apple's own PIM apps suits it to quick wireless data transfers. Bluetooth is probably not a suitable alternative to Firewire or USB 2.0, but Wi-Fi would be.

But we suspect Apple has its eye on wireless not as an alternative to the cable connecting the iPod to a host Mac or PC, but to equip the device with the tools needed to communicate remotely with said host and Apple's AirPort Express music-routing Wi-Fi access point.

Right now, there's no way of sitting in a living room in which an AirPort Express unit is hooked up to a hi-fi and to control what's being streamed off the Mac up in the spare room. If the computer's portable, you can bring it down, or you can pop into the other room and change iTunes' playlist. What's needed is a remote control.

With its display and smart UI, the iPod is an obvious choice. What it needs next is AirPort support, along with a corresponding Salling Clicker-style remote control facility built into iTunes itself.

Indeed, Apple may even be considering offering such software itself, for the smart phones and PDAs iSync operates with. They would be limited by Bluetooth's range, allowing Apple to offer a Wi-Fi iPod as the superior solution, for range, UI and performance.

Alternatively, the iPod division may be behind the mysterious 'tablet Mac' we reported on recently, which has also been described as a possible iTunes/AirPort Express remote control unit.

At the very least, Apple is keen on increased integration between Wi-Fi and iTunes, and there's a big hole in its product line here: the remote control system. Whether it has in mind something a simple as an 802.11-enabled iPod, a more complex tablet-style computer, or both, remains to be seen. ®

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