If there's one chameleon in Apple's iPod lineup, it's a close race between the iPod Nano and the Shuffle. Both have changed dramatically over the course of their respective product life spans, and a new rumor says it could happen all over again to the next Nano.
According to Japanese Apple-focused blog Macotakara, Apple's next iPod Nano will return to an earlier form of sorts, reverting back to the tried-and-true "oblong style" form factor. As a frame of reference, the current Nano is more like an iPod Shuffle, just with a touch screen on the front instead of click controls.
One curious thing about this rumor is what this means to the cottage industry that's been built up around using the iPod Nano as a watch. There have been numerous third-party accessories that use the iPod Nano as a digital time piece, so much so that Apple made it a point in one of its last major iPod Nano software updates to add additional faces.
The benefit in all this, Macotakara offers, is that the device will sport a dedicated home button, and run an iTunes app, presumably meaning it will have a fully working version of iOS. However, that would also put into question where such a device would fit in with Apple's iPod line, considering its proximity to the iPod Touch.
Apple's last major update to the iPod Nano was the move to a square, touch-screen form factor in September, 2010. Apple then quietly reduced the price of the 8GB model at its iPhone 4S event last year from $149 down to $129. The company typically updates its iPod lineup in the fall, just when school is beginning and just ahead of the holidays.
Macotakara's report, which was spotted by 9to5mac, contradicts a series of leaked photos that began in April of last year, depicting a sixth-generation style iPod Nano with a built-in camera. The camera was a feature included in an earlier generation of the Nano, which was nixed when the device was shrunk down.