You might not want to get your hopes up for a new 2017 iPod Touch after all

Apple could launch a brand new 7th-gen iPod music player at its iPhone 8 launch event later today, rumours suggest – though the waters just got a bit muddier.

The latest surprise revelation comes via an iOS 11 final build leak, and hints at the possibility of a brand new Apple iPod. We’ve seen all manner of titbits uncovered from the Gold Master iOS 11 leak – that’s the official general release version, coming to users shortly – but nothing has surprised us as much as this.

Prolific tipster Benjamin Geskin has spent some time digging in the iOS 11 code, and discovered a line that reads “Unlock your iPod with your face”, in a string for the setup.app file.

Related: iPhone X

However, another respected Apple soothsayer, Steve S-T, says there’ll be no such thing – despite a new 2017 iPod cropping up in the recently leaked Discover listing.

It’s still currently possible to buy an iPod Touch from Apple, although there’s no current face-unlocking feature. The new iPhone 8 is tipped to get a 3D facial recognition system on the front to allow face-based user authentication, but existing iPod models aren’t equipped with the technology.

This could be an early sign that Apple may be working on a brand new iPod, which touts similar facial recognition systems to the upcoming iPhone, but the doubters shouldn’t be discounted either, as Cupertino has started to retire a number of its most iconic iPod models.

It’s heavily rumoured that the new iPhone will feature facial recognition as a way to eschew fingerprint scanning, which makes it possible to fill more of the front of the phone with screen. If Apple is adopting this design for the iPhone, it’s only a small leap to apply it to an iPod Touch too.

Apple typically follows a 2-3 year release cycle for iPod models, with the iPod Touch arriving in the following years:

  • 2007
  • 2008
  • 2009
  • 2010
  • 2012
  • 2015

With that in mind, it’s not a huge stretch of the imagination to assume Apple will debut a 7th-generation version of the device in 2017. It’s not clear if there’s still a massive market for devices that store audio, given the popularity of streaming services like Spotify and the proliferation of smartphones, but cheap storage components could make it possible to provide huge-capacity iPod Touch models relatively cheaply.

In any case, Apple hasn’t confirmed such an announcements, so we’ll have to wait and see what CEO Tim Cook debuts during the iPhone launch event on Tuesday, September 12.

Related: iPhone 7S

What would you like to see from a new iPod Touch? Let us know via Facebook or Twitter.