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As is always the case a month or two prior to a new iDevice release, the next-generation iPhone is currently the talk of the tech world, with analysts, bloggers, fans and insiders speculating what Apple has up its sleeve this time around.

As well as a supposedly longer, slightly thinner form factor, reshuffled headphone jack and a few cosmetic tweaks, one recurring feature of the next Apple smartphone is the smaller dock connector. Continuing the Cupertino’s ethos of shrinking everything down to size, the current 30-pin job was said to be making way for a 19-pin connector, which would have been around half the size. Not only would the smaller port / cable look a great deal better, but it would save a lot of space within the device, making extra room for improved hardware, or just a thinner unit in general.

Now, iLounge has speculated Apple might be able to cut the new port down to just eight pins. Two of iLounge’s sources corroborate the 8-pin notion, as well as hinting the Dock Connector itself could be subject to a name change. The report suggests Apple doesn’t need any more pins than a USB offers, but the fruit company’s dock connectors do have quite a few advantages over USB, the sort of advantages it cannot just do away with in a blasé fashion.

As discussed by John Brownlee over at CultOfMac, there are a couple of reasons why the 19 pins make a whole lot more sense. The current 30-pin connector has 11 pins deemed surplus to requirements, but the 19 left are still used by accessory makers far and wide. By cutting that number down to a mere 8, it would appear the majority of accessories would become useless (even with some kind of adapter), which wouldn’t do Apple any favors from a PR point of view when consumers have spent hundreds on iPeripherals.

Even so, the leaked shots of the new dock do look a lot smaller than 19 pins could squeeze in, so we’ll have to wait and see what the outcome is. Either Apple has packed the pins in tightly, or there’s going to be a pitchfork march from third-party accessory makers / purchasers.

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As well as the dock speculation, iOS 6 is said to pack a new Bluetooth 4.0 bridging feature, opening the door to an iPod nano watch, which is certainly food for thought. The feature could, for example, allow iMessages to be read on an iPod nano, and although the idea of a nano watch isn’t to everybody’s taste, it’s the sort of geeky idea that many consumers would be interested in.

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