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iPod Touch 4 spotted in the wild

It's a fact of life that, whenever a company is preparing to release a new product, it is forced to send engineering prototypes to third-party manufacturers in order to allow them to design accessories which will be available on or around the device's launch date.

And despite Apple's legendary secrecy, these outside manufacturers are more often than not the weak link in the curtain of security surrounding these new gadgets.

A case in point is the emergence of pictures of what appears to be a new iPod Touch design posted today by French Apple fan site Hard Mac.

If they do turn out to be genuine, the pictures reveal that the next generation iPod Touch won't follow the iPhone 4's design queues, instead retaining the current iPod iterations curvy backside. In line with many predictions, including our own, the engineering prototype appears to have a rear facing camera, but there is no sign of the front-facing camera which would be required for Face Time video calls.

Then again, if the clear polycarbonate (as far as we can tell) case doesn't include a screen protector, there would be no need to include such a thing in order for the case to be designed.

Then again it could just be an elaborate hoax, or a case of mistaken identity.