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New iTunes hints at coming cell phone support

Latest release of jukebox software makes several references to long-anticipated iTunes-compatible phone, after earlier plans hit snags.

The latest release of Apple Computer's jukebox software has some hints that a long-anticipated iTunes-compatible cell phone may be coming soon.

Apple's primary focus for the update was to add support for podcasts. However, a library file included with the new iTunes 4.9 software makes several references to mobile phone features. These include messages such as "Automatically choose songs for my mobile phone" and "The name of my mobile phone is." The messages are not viewable from within iTunes, but rather in an add-on file that can be opened using a text editor.

Apple and Motorola announced plans for an iTunes-compatible phone back in July 2004, but the project has been said to have hit some snags, with carriers reluctant to sign on. However, more recently there have been that an announcement should be coming soon.

The messages within iTunes appear to support that. Other messages in the library file include "No phone connected" and "Open iTunes when this mobile phone is attached."

Apple has been known to include features in its software that don't immediately show up but are activated once the needed hardware is released.

On Tuesday, Apple released iTunes 4.9 with support for podcasts, but the company declined to comment on when the Motorola phone might be available. An Apple representative was not immediately available to comment on the phone references.

The existence of the phone references was noted earlier by enthusiast site