This is interesting: Apple has just applied for a patent showing a way that they could allow the iPod nano to sync and charge through pins positioned in the clip. What’s most interesting about this is that it implies that the iPod nano could ditch the 30-Pin Dock Connector, just like the Shuffle.
The patent is titled “Portable User Device with a Clip Having Electrical Thermals,” the patent shows a smaller multitouch iPod with four pins positioned in the clip to allow for syncing and charging.
Why four pins instead of 19 or 30? If you read our feature on the history and future of the Apple dock connector the other day, you’ll know that those four pins equate to the four necessary pins of a USB connection: data in, data out, power and ground.
What Apple’s talking about here, then, is giving the iPod nano a special kind of dock connector that would be more similar to the iPod shuffle’s TRSS jack USB connection method than the way other iPods charge.
In a later illustration in the same patent application, Apple shows ways it could apply its concept beyond the iPod nano: for example, by allowing you to “clip” your nano to the side of your MacBook display through a special USB port. Interesting!
Rumors from a couple of days ago pegged the iPod nano as getting a major redesign this year to look more like a thinner, smaller iPod touch. This patent, on the other hand, suggests that Apple might be going the opposite direction, and looking to make the touchscreen nano even more Shuffle-like than it currently is.