Apple certainly knows how to keep its fans guessing, with followers musing over a fall or summer release date for the next iPhone, as well as its suspected characteristics. The latest rumor to surface about what the next-generation iPhone will feature is compatibility with a wireless headset equipped with a built-in MP3 player.

Apple recently filed a patent for the new product, which is supposedly geared toward the company's music identity. The new headset is said to combine the iPod shuffle's music-playback feature with Bluetooth technology, which should work like a dream with the iPhone 5 according to Computerworld.

But this is more than just an iPod shuffle with a headset. The inclusion of a microphone, combined with the ability to retrieve voice messages, brings Apple's coming product to a whole different level.

Computerworld blogger Jonny Evans wrote that this is particularly significant since there are about 316 million iOS devices in use worldwide.

That's a huge market for an Apple headset, particularly one that integrates strongly with iOS 6, including the ability to cue up tracks using Siri voice controls if the headset were twinned with an iPhone, for example, Evans wrote.

The patent also describes a function allowing users to record phone conversation when connected to a device, further hinting that the headset will be geared toward iPhone connection.

However, this does raise some questions regarding the gadget's necessity. As iPhone 5 News Blog's Michael Nace pointed out, why would an iPhone user need a Bluetooth headset with a built-in media player? The real benefit comes from the ability to preload content via a USB drive, so that owners without an iPhone or iPod can still port music into the device.

This could possibly act as an alternative to an iPad or iPod, Nace said, but isn't a necessary accessory for the iPhone.

I don't see a design like this being bound up in the iPhone 5 launch, Nace wrote.

Apple's next-generation smartphone is expected to launch in either June or October, and will feature 4G LTE technology.