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More photos of iPod Nano with a camera emerge

Will the next iPod Nano once again sport a camera? Newly-released spy shots once again suggest Apple's experimenting with the idea.

A purported shot of an iPod Nano with a camera built-in.
A purported shot of an iPod Nano with a camera built-in.

Those hoping Apple will bring a camera back to the iPod Nano may have a new glimmer of hope today.

Purported spy shots of the gadget were posted this morning by Japanese Apple-centric blog Apple.pro (via 9to5Mac), and depict an iPod Nano much like the current model, but with a camera on the backside where the built-in clip is.

This is not the first time we've seen a shot of such a device, of course. Apple.pro is the same outlet that leaked a shot of a camera-enabled model last April, however, that photo depicted what was merely the backside of some hollowed-out aluminum casing. The new photos that were published this morning also show what appears to be just the exterior shell of a unit, but offer what looks to be a more finished model.

Apple briefly offered a camera in the iPod Nano that would let users shoot video, later removing the feature once the company moved its touch-screen model--presumably because there was not enough room to fit one. Interestingly enough though, the company filed for a patent near the end of 2009 depicting what appeared to be a touch-screen iPod Nano with a built-in camera, much like the one in these photos.

The addition of a camera that shoots both video and stills could bring a few other hardware goodies, presumably wireless connectivity like Wi-Fi and/or Bluetooth to tap into Apple's iCloud. Last year the company introduced Photo Stream as part of that service, giving users a way to sync the most recent 1,000 photos with other devices, making an iPod Nano with a camera a likely candidate.

It's unclear when Apple plans to debut its next round of iPod updates. Last year came and went without a hardware update to the iPod Nano. At its "Let's Talk iPhone" event in October the company debuted the iPhone 4S, while announcing minor price cuts to the iPod Nano and Touch. The Nano in particular got a new software update that added more virtual watch faces and other UI tweaks.

Prior to last year, the company had kept a tight schedule of bringing out new models every September, but there's little ignoring the fact that the product line has been on a sales decline since 2008, with the iPhone and iPad pulling in more sales and attention.