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Monday, May 16, 2005, 10:00 am PT (01:00 pm ET)

New AirPort Express to bundle wireless remote control?

The next version of Apple's AirPort Express wireless base station may bundle a wireless remote control, according to hints dropped via an obscure error message in the latest version of the company's iTunes jukebox software.

If a user has configured a firewall, the first time iTunes 4.8 is launched a dialog will read, "Your computer is using a firewall software that prevents you from sharing music or using a remote control for AirTunes," the HypnoticNetwork has discovered.

AirTunes is the name given to Apple's AirPort software that allows AirPort Express owners to wirelessly broadcast iTunes music through their stereo or powered speakers in virtually in any room of their house.

Although several existing third party AirPort remotes exist, the HypnoticNetwork speculates that the warning message may provided the first hints at what's to come in the second generation of Apple's AirPort Express base station.

It was almost a year ago that Apple introduced the AirPort Express at the Wall Street Journal's annual D: All Things Digital conference.

When Apple chief executive Steve Jobs first demonstrated the AirPort Express, the Wall Street Journal's Walt Mossberg told Jobs the biggest problem he saw was that users had to get up and walk to their computers to change play lists and songs

Jobs responded with a joke, saying he thought walking was good. But when pressed further, Jobs just smiled a wry smile. AppleInsider correspondents took this to mean that Apple was developing an AirPort remote, and the Airport Express was just a step along the way.

Meanwhile, a March 2005 AppleInsider article reported that Apple was preparing to unveil new versions of its AirPort wireless base station, with an expected debut in "the coming months."

Next week, the Wall Street Journal will hold the third edition of its D: All Things Digital conference between May 22-24. Interestingly, Apple's current AirPort Express promotion ends May 23rd. Once again, Jobs will present at the conference along with Microsoft's Bill Gates, Intel's Paul Ottelini, and Motorola's Ed Zander.

Will you be attending the D conference? If so, please drop us a line.