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iPod touch: Always a bridesmaid ...

With all the fanfare this week surrounding the iPhone, let's not forget the famed handset's red-headed stepchild: the iPod touch.

Hardware updates to the line weren't exactly expected just now. Apple tends to save their iPod updates for special music events held every year since 2003. After Apple's education promo is done and dusted, we can probably expect a special event in September where we see updates for our favorite media device. What's in store for the new iPod touch? Setting aside for the moment rumors about a tablet-sized device, there are sure to be plenty of updates for the handheld iPod touch we've come to know and love.

As far as the operating system update is concerned, we'll gain all the features compatible with the iPod touch's hardware, like copy and paste, upgrades to the iTunes store, and the landscape keyboard. These updates, like those in the past, will come at a price: In an effort to adhere to strict accounting regulations, Apple charges iPod touch users about $10 to upgrade to the new operating system. iPhone users aren't charged similarly, because revenue from the handsets is accounted on a subscription basis, which has different rules about giving updates away for free. Like the iPhone, the update for iPod touch will be available June 17.

Compared to the iPhone, planned updates to the iPod touch's hardware remain largely unknown. iPod touch models have been generally close in specification to the iPhone, but each model is slightly different. In theory, if applications require the greater horsepower the iPhone 3G S provides, some high-performance games may be incompatible with existing iPod touch models, in addition to apps that take advantage of the iPhone's built-in GPS and camera.

Cameras, however, might be on the way: Mike noted rumors last month about iPod nanos with cameras built-in. If those are true, it stands to reason that iPod touch models could get the same functionality. I've opined before about a whispernet service for the iPod touch, but I don't see that happening anytime soon, especially with AT&T's lackluster feature delivery schedule revealed during the iPhone keynote.

What do you think the next iPod touch will be? Will it become "just like the iPhone but without the phone part?" Let us know by leaving a comment.

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