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Speculation swells as Apple event draws near

What Steve Jobs is expected to unveil

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Apple's media event draws close - it kicks off it 6pm this evening - but the rumours regarding just what CEO Steve Jobs - with halo or horns, it's your choice - will announce.

The Wall Street Journal has it on good authority - it says - that Apple will announce 99c (64p) rentals of TV shows from US stations Fox and ABC. UK TV partners are unlikely to be announced, we'd say.

The TV show rental claim lends weight to speculation that a new version of the Apple TV, this time with limited local storage and an emphasis on picking up streamed content, will also be announced today.

It's also being said - by Bloomberg, for one - that said box will support US content service Netflix. That said, since the box is expected to be based on iOS 4 - rather than Mac OS X, as is the case with the current Apple TV - it will undoubtedly run apps. Since Netflix has a subscription streaming app out, it's support for the new Apple TV would seem inevitable.

And if the various pictures - iLounge has a good selection - of rubbery cases coming out of China are to be believed, so is the announcement of an new iPod Nano with an inch-or-so-square touchscreen and no clickwheel.

Other cases point to a new, camera-equipped iPod Touch that also sports an LED flash. If the cases are genuine, it looks like the Touch will be retaining its curvy chassis rather than adopt the iPhone 4's flat-sided design.

A 960 x 640 "retina display" too? That seems likely, but the case photos don't give any indication either way. Ditto the rumour that it will have a front-facing camera, though Apple's keenness to push its FaceTime video conferencing system suggests such an addition is very likely indeed.

It has even been claimed that, like the iPad, the new Touch will include a line member with a built-in 3G data modem. Perhaps even a larger version too, though with a 7in iPad also rumoured that seems to blur the lines between the products more than Apple generally cares to do.

Or will the iPod Touch become the iPad Nano?

The iPad's promised iOS 4 update is, by Apple's own announcements, close at hand. Expect an update on the timetable for its release, if not the release itself. A more general announcement on the status of iOS 4.1 - thought to fix the OS' woes on old iPhone 3Gs - is possible too.

Oddly, there has been no speculation about the fate of the iPod Shuffle, but it's good enough not to warrant an update. New colours, perhaps?

To all this speculation, we have to add the ongoing suggestion that the iTunes Store will become a web-only offering, that Apple might offer a music subscription service, that song previews will rise from 30 seconds to a minute, that users' music archives might be stored online, allowing tracks to be streamed to other devices, and that Apple will offer HD movie purchases as well as the HD rentals it already offers.

Whatever happens, if you have a Mac running Mac OS X 10.6 and Safari, or an iOS 3 iDevice, you'll be able to watch Apple's stream of the event from the link on Apple's website. ®

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