Any time Apple releases beta software a cadre of curious developers comb through the code searching for signs of new hardware. The iOS 4.1 beta is no exception and appears to have exposed some potentially juicy new rumor-bait.
iOS 4.1b3 includes three new "Configuration Descriptors" within its USB configuration files that list "Apple, Inc." as their "manufacturer."
The fourth-generation iPod touch is referenced within the code as "iPod 4,1" meaning that it will be the first iteration of a fourth-generation device -- rather than a revision to the iPod touch's existing design (which would have a configuration descriptor of "iPod 3,2.") AppleInsider thinks that the 2010 iPod touch will look like a slimmer iPhone 4 with dual cameras, FaceTime support, Apple's A4 processor and Retina display.
The second reference is to "iProd 2,1" -- a second-generation iPad. The original iPad (released in April 2010) had a configuration descriptor of "iProd 1,1" prior to its announcement. The third reference is to "unknownHardware" with a unique Apple product ID of 20547. This is presumed to be the new iOS-powered iTV that is rumored to succeed the current Apple TV.
While it's likely that Apple will announced the new iPod touch and iTV at Apple's annual music and media event next month, it's highly unlikely that we'll see the second-generation iPad referenced in the strings until the Spring of 2011. It's simply too soon.
We could however finally see iOS 4 for the iPad as soon as next month. Although AI said that iOS 4 for iPad won't arrive until November, Apple promised it in "Fall" -- which officially begins on September 21, 2010.