Carbon Fiber iPods Will Bring Wi-Fi Syncing [Exclusive]

Carbon Fiber iPods Will Bring Wi-Fi Syncing [Exclusive]

Apple is prototyping iPods with carbon-fiber cases, like this wrap from Carbon:Era. www.carbon-era.co.uk

Steve Jobs is keen to bring wireless syncing to iPods this year, and carbon fiber may be the key.

Following the news that Apple has just hired a leading carbon fiber expert, we can reveal that the company has been testing Wi-Fi syncing in iPods for the past two years.

Getting large libraries of music and movies to synchronize wirelessly over WiFi hasn’t been easy, according to a source close to the company who asked to remain anonymous. But Steve Jobs himself sees it as key to updating the aging devices, which are becoming increasingly obsolete in the iPhone/iPad era.

“Jobs is pushing hard to get WiFi syncing into the next-generation of iPods,” says our source.


There are lots of issues, however, with syncing over the air rather than the current method: a USB cable. Apple’s engineers have been having trouble with reliability, signal strength, case design and battery life, our source says.

“They’ve tried multiple different body designs and materials to get it to work well but it’s been slow going,” says our source. “They have however found many improvements using a carbon fiber design.”

According to our source, Apple has prototyped the iPod classic and the previous version of the iPod nano (not the current iPod nano, which is smaller than its predecessor). The carbon fiber cases greatly improve WiFi issues but isn’t yet perfect, our source says.

“They’re still not ideal or to the engineer’s satisfaction,” says our source. “They are however making a lot of headway.”

Apple has just hired a Senior Composites Engineer. Kevin Kenny began work at the Cupertino campus this month after spending 14 years building carbon fiber bicycles for Kestral Bicycles, where he was the President and CEO.

This isn’t the first time Kenny has worked with Apple; a patent called “Reinforced Device Housing” filed by the company in 2009 had Kenny’s name on it, and depicted an outer casing for electronic devices made from ultra-strong carbon fiber. The patent reveals Kenny was clearly working with Apple for a long time before he became a full-time employee.

The current generation of iPods, which range from the tiny iPod shuffle to the high-capacity iPod classic, don’t have wireless hardware. If Apple is prototyping Wi-Fi-equipped iPod classic and nano, and adds Wi-Fi syncing to the iPod touch through software, that leaves only the iPod shuffle.

The iPod classic is getting long in the tooth, and hasn’t been updated since September 2009. This has led many to speculate that the device may soon be discontinued. However, Steve Jobs recently assured a customer that the iPod Classic isn’t going away.

Our source had no information about Wi-Fi syncing with iPhone, iPad and iPod touch. But it’s likely that the system could be easily added to these devices, which already have WiFi radios built-in.

  • Vlad Grodzinskiy

    As far as I know, carbon fiber greatly reduces radio reception. Try a real carbon fiber case on your iPhone and let me know if you can so much as browse the web. Maybe I’m wrong, but I don’t understand how carbon fiber is helping wireless iPod synchronization.

  • Aseem is Stupid
  • Davegan

    … or could they just be looking to make cases for their aluminum and liquidmetal iDevices!

  • jnjnjn2

    Rambling story. Click bait.
    Carbon isn’t linked to WiFi as implied.
    As I mentioned in previous posts carbon is higly unsuitable as casing material.

    J.

  • TylerHoj

    Thats funny. I just bought a Carbon Fibre skin for my iPad 2 and was thinking, wow…I hope Apple never exclusively uses this stuff in a product, the aluminum is so much easier to hold and feels stronger and more durable. I hope Apple re imagines they’re entire iPod line. Ever since the Nano with video, iPods have been stale and old feeling.

  • TylerHoj

    …maybe Apple isn’t even thinking using carbon fibre as a housing material for the outside of the iPods…instead perhaps we’ll see it used more practically in a smart cover next year, or some sort of Apple exclusive launch accessory. Think about it, they probably had to hire some polyurethane specialist for the current smart covers. Anythings possible.

  • Mackintosh.0

    Not sure why a new case design is needed to sync via WiFi…a jailbroken iPhone/iPod Touch can use WiFi Sync for iPhone and do this now, with the current case designs.

  • Horse Feces

    Carbon fiber has literally nothing to do with Wi-Fi syncing, it’s an absurd connection that was manufactured to draw clicks. Cult of Mac just makes shit up to get pageviews and land on TechMeme or whatever other site will link to them because it’s a slow news day. Have they ever been correct about a rumor? Nope, not once. This site is like Fox News, there’s an ounce of truth to every 15lbs of bullshit.

  • Interconnect Partner

    Yes the new Boeing 787 Dreamliner is a product of Carbon Fiber to answer the WTO allegation for subsidising the plane. Is iPod a flying machine for the frequencies/air waves to travel faster, better. There could be smarter options for a revision of product not revival of the iPod for the carbonisation in fiber. Cheers

About the author

Leander KahneyLeander Kahney is the editor and publisher of Cult of Mac. He is the NYT bestselling author of Jony Ive: The Genius Behind Apple's Greatest Products; Inside Steve’s Brain; Cult of Mac; and Cult of iPod. Leander has written for Wired, MacWeek, Scientific American, and The Guardian in London. Follow Leander on Twitter @lkahney and Facebook.

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