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Friday, August 25, 2006, 08:00 am PT (11:00 am ET)

Apple plans Bluetooth iPod adapter, report claims

Apple Computer will debut a Bluetooth adapter for its iPods that will allow the music players to communicate wirelessly with a new wave of in-car Bluetooth audio systems, a Pioneer spokesperson said this week.

It's the second time an automobile-related product manager has made such an assertion over years, though Apple has failed to respond by introducing any such device.

The latest rumor

Pioneer recently introduced its DEH car sound system hub that allows anyone with a Bluetooth telephone to turn their car into an integrated, interactive office. The basic DEH head unit includes a built-in microphone and can be installed directly into a standard 5cm DIN car stereo slot, replacing the original equipment.

The DEH hub allows Bluetooth phones to operate through a car's speaker system, and automatically lowers the volume of any music being played when calls are received. All relevant information comes up on the audio unit's bright blue screen.

Speaking to Australia-based CarsGuide, a spokesman for the electronics giant said the device is not limited to high-end luxury cars and can be installed in almost any automobile. The spokesman went on to say the DEH hub requires a separate Pioneer adapter to interface with an iPod, but that Apple will bring out a Bluetooth adapter of its own that will allow iPods to make a wireless connection through the audio system.

Haven't we heard this before?

If the Pioneer spokesman's comments seem like a case of déjà vu, it's for good reason. In February of 2005, an automobile product manager for Motorola told Radio France Apple would soon introduce an iPod with Bluetooth wireless capabilities that could broadcast music wirelessly through car speakers.

The Motorola product manager also described a dock or "pod" that would have allowed both a Bluetooth iPod and a mobile phone device to communicate with car stereos. A Bluetooth-enabled iPod never arrived.

Still, the rumors persist

Rumors of a Bluetooth iPod resurfaced this April when an unnamed UK-based retailer told Stuff Magazine that an iPod with built-in wireless would soon appear in the Apple stores, along with a deluge of accessories. Once again, the rumors failed to pan out.

If there's anything riding on the side of the Bluetooth iPod rumors, it's the time that has elapsed without such a device making its debut. Many insiders see wireless iPods as a natural and eventual evolution of the players.

A series of Apple patent filings over the last several years also hint that the iPod maker has been experimenting with wireless-enabled iPods, including Wi-Fi- and Bluetooth-based models.

In the most recent filing, covered by AppleInsider earlier this month, Apple described a content synchronization system for digital media players that include built-in wireless technology or have access to a docking station that includes such capabilities.