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Apple's next iPhone rumored with 8-pin dock connector, enhanced Bluetooth

A new rumor claims the expected smaller dock connector in Apple's next iPhone will be an 8-pin design, while iOS 6 will have a new Bluetooth 4.0 linking feature that will greatly share functionality between Apple's devices.

The details come from a report published Wednesday by iLounge, which cited two sources for the 8-pin dock connector. That contradicts earlier reports that the new dock on Apple's next iPhone will be a 19-pin design.

With the launch of the next iPhone, Apple is expected to retire the 30-pin dock connector that has been found on its iPod lineup and iOS devices for years. Because of the large number of accessories on the market compatible with the current 30-pin design, Apple is expected to provide an adapter to help ease the transition to the smaller design.

Wednesday's report said the new dock connector will potentially allow devices to be connected to docks and cables in two orientations, similar to the MagSafe charger design found on Apple's MacBook lineup.

Author Jeremy Horwitz was also reportedly told by one source that Apple is working on an unannounced iOS 6 feature that will greatly enhance Bluetooth 4.0 connectivity between devices.

"The feature would enable, say, a future iPod nano to display iMessages received by an iPhone, record voice memos that could be shared via the iPhone, and even initiate phone calls through its own headphones," he wrote. "It could also conceivably let you make iPhone calls from your iPad (or possibly even recent Macs), assuming the iPhone was paired with the computer over Bluetooth."

Apple began adding Bluetooth 4.0 support to its devices in mid-2011 with the MacBook Air and Mac mini, while the launch of the iPhone 4S late last year marked the debut of Bluetooth 4.0 on handset from the company, along with "Bluetooth Smart Ready" support.

Apple joined the Bluetooth Special Interest Group board of directors last year, and now takes part in overseeing the development of standards and licensing for the short-range wireless technology. When Apple joined, the special interest group said the iPhone maker would provide insight on platform development, as the company understands that technology is now driven by "hub devices" that capture data, utilize data at the application layer, and even upload it to the cloud.