iPod Touch Offers FaceTime Video Chat, Camera: Rumors

Apple will release an iPod Touch with a camera and video-chatting application, according to rumors originating in Britain. Whether or not the rumor pans out, Apple has a history of releasing refreshed iPods in September.

Now that the iPhone 4 has been released, the blogosphere seems to have shifted its conjecture-making abilities to a new target: the iPod Touch.

A representative for U.K. retailer John Lewis sparked off a flurry of speculation by predicting, during a Christmas sales presentation, that the next version of the iPod Touch will include a 5-megapixel camera, Apple's FaceTime video-chatting application and a three-axis gyroscope. The executive drew his information from suppliers, according to the U.K. blog Pocket Lint.

The addition of FaceTime-which would require a front-facing camera-and a gyroscope would bring the next-generation iPod Touch more closely in line with the iPhone 4, which recently debuted with those features. A gyroscope can potentially be leveraged by developers for games or applications that rely on positioning data.

Of course, every successive Apple product invites rampant speculation; in the months leading up to the unveiling of the iPad, for example, seemingly dozens of pundits and analysts made a cottage industry out of guessing the tablet's features. Many of those guesses turned out to be incorrect, despite the talking heads' supposed connections with Apple suppliers and manufacturers.

Since the summer of 2009, rumors have circulated about Apple's plans to integrate a camera into the iPod Touch. In July 2009, the blog MacRumors.com published spy photos of what was claimed to be an iPod Touch case with a camera hole; TechCrunch solidified that speculation by reporting, via Asian sources, that Apple had ordered a massive quantity of $10 camera modules.

However, Apple's September 2009 event in San Francisco saw the unveiling of only an iPod Nano with a camera aperture. At the same time, Apple executives seemed more determined to position the iPod Touch as a gaming device than a potential killer of portable digital camcorder devices like the Flip HD. Rumors also abounded that Apple was having technical difficulties with the cameras being integrated into the iPods.

Whether or not this September sees the debut of a camera-equipped iPod Touch, Apple certainly has other issues to occupy its attention at the moment: Although its iPhone 4 sold more than 1.7 million units in its initial three days of release, and has been praised by various tech pundits for its new features, reported problems with the antenna are threatening to tarnish the company's image, at least in the short term.

Apple is also focused on selling other products in its mobile stable, including the iPad, which has proven a considerable marketplace hit. A July 7 research note from Barclays Capital predicts that some 20 million iPads will be sold in 2011, giving Apple the prime position in the burgeoning consumer-tablet space.