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Thursday, August 19, 2010, 10:40 am PT (01:40 pm ET)

Apple testing iOS 4.1 alongside next-gen iPod touch, iPad and 'unknown' product

Apple is internally testing the first material update to its iOS 4.0 mobile operating system against a handful of new devices, including next-generation iPod touches, an iPad revision, and an "unknown" product, AppleInsider has discovered.

According to people familiar with the matter, the latest beta of iOS 4.1, due to ship in the coming weeks, includes three new "Configuration Descriptors" within its USB configuration files — all of which pertain to devices that list "Apple, Inc." as their "manufacturer" — as can be seen in the screenshot below.

The first product, a fourth-generation iPod touch, is referenced within the code as "iPod 4,1." That particular identifier indicates the device will be the first iteration of a fourth-generation device, rather than a revision to the touch's existing design, which would have been denoted as an "iPod 3,2."

For Apple, this represents the fourth consecutive year in which the company will deliver a significant internal or external design change to its flagship iPod, preserving a tradition that has seen the media player's adopt the architecture of iPhones that hit the market a few months earlier.

As such, this year's iPod touch family calls for models akin to a slimmer iPhone 4, equipped with dual cameras, FaceTime support, Apple's custom A4 processor, and high resolution Retina Display. For reference, the first three generations of the iPod touch were identified as "iPod 1,1," "iPod 2,1" and "iPod 3,1," respectively.

The second unreleased product referenced in the USB configuration files is "iProd 2,1." All indications are that this device represents a material update to the company's iPad, as the inaugural version of the device released this past April was similarly listed in configuration files as "iProd 1,1" prior to its announcement.

Finally, and most intriguing, is a previously undiscovered mention of a mysterious device listed only as "unknownHardware." Although the configuration files tag this device with a unique Apple product ID of 20547, it's textual descriptor is similarly listed as "Unknown- Add device descriptor info for this device."

iOS 4.1 descriptors


While purely speculative at this time, it's possible that those place holders are related to an Apple TV reincarnation — rumored to be dubbed iTV — that will reportedly jettison its existing Mac OS X-based software platform for one built around iOS 4.0 and capable of running applications found on the App Store.

Apple is widely expected to hold its annual music and media event next month, as it has done for the past several years, ushering in the fourth-generation iPod touches and potentially the much rumored Apple TV makeover.