Hidden Images in iPad's iOS 6.1 May Foreshadow Apple's "iRadio"

Image files hidden in the iPad’s iOS 6.1 firmware may add support to the longstanding rumors that Apple will soon launch a Pandora-like “iRadio” service. As discovered by 9to5Mac Monday, several image files tucked into the device’s firmware display a radio tower icon, a plus button, and the word “buy” in the filename.

The image files have been present in the iPad since at least iOS 6.1 and were discovered Monday as a result of the release of the iOS 6.1 jailbreak “evasi0n,” which, among many other things, allows users to dig in to the system files on a jailbroken device. Surprisingly, the image files are not found on a similarly jailbroken iPhone.

iPad Radio ImagesThe images discovered by 9to5Mac (top) and the iTunes 10 Radio icon (bottom).
Images have been enlarged for legibility.

iPod nano radio

At this point it is unclear if the image files are meant to apply to a rumored premium online music streaming service, standard internet radio streaming (as has long existed in iTunes), or traditional terrestrial radio capabilities. Many of Apple’s iPod nano models have included an FM radio tuner with the ability to “tag” songs to purchase later from iTunes. It’s possible, although not likely, that a similar feature could make its way into a future iPad.

It’s also possible, however, that the image files were unintentionally left in the finished code and that they have no bearing on any of Apple’s plans for the iPad or internet radio. The images’ absence from devices other than the iPad suggests that even if they do foreshadow a future Apple service, it may be long before it is unveiled to the public.