5 Apple Rumors: From a Keyless MacBook to New EarPods

Exciting new Apple products like the iPhone 7 and iOS 10 are on their way. And in the meantime, there are going to be plenty of rumors and reports to keep interested Apple fans occupied and speculating about product announcements to come. If you want to catch up on the latest Apple rumors, this week has brought some interesting developments related to the next Apple Watch, Apple’s iCloud operations, the iPhone 7, a MacBook patent, and even the company’s hypothetical electric car. Read on to catch up on the most exciting Apple rumors to surface this week.

1. The next Apple Watch may be an “S” update

Apple CEO Tim Cook

Josh Edelson/AFP/Getty Images

Neil Hughes reports for Apple Insider that according to well-connected KGI analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, Apple’s 2016 Apple Watch will be an “S”-style upgrade, and any major design changes will wait until 2017. Kuo posits that this year’s Apple Watch release will feature “spec improvements with limited changes to form factor design,” suggesting that Apple fans who are waiting for a new look for the Apple Watch will have to wait until 2017.

The claims are consistent with a rumor that dates back to July and claimed that the second-generation Apple Watch would feature a design largely identical to that of the first model, with upgraded internal components like a larger battery and a display with improved outdoor visibility. Apple Insider also reports that according to current rumors, suppliers are beginning to receive component orders for the second Apple Watch, which could mean that Apple will begin mass production within the next few months.

Lance Ulanoff reports for Mashable that incremental changes “should come as no surprise in a market as immature as smartwatches.” Nonetheless, Ulanoff thinks that Apple needs to make big changes sooner, rather than later, in order to expand the Apple Watch’s market beyond the tech reviewers and early adopters who are wearing it so far.

2. Apple is proceeding with plans to bring iCloud in-house

iCloud.com

Source: iCloud.com

Luke Dormehl reports for Cult of Mac that Apple is proceeding with plans to bring its iCloud operations in-house. According to a report from Digitimes, Apple is working with China-based server vendor Inspur as part of an ongoing plan to bring its iCloud services in-house, instead of using services like Amazon Web Services for its cloud server needs.

It was recently reported that Apple is migrating some of its iCloud business from Amazon to Google in a deal reportedly worth between $400 and $600 million. But Dormehl notes that the move from Amazon to Google is likely a stopgap measure, a temporary solution until Apple can achieve independence from third-party cloud service providers. The news about Apple’s collaboration with Inspur seems a confirmation that Apple is serious about handling its own iCloud data services.

3. The iPhone 7 may ditch the headphones for Bluetooth EarPods

Tim Cook during a presentation

Stephen Lam/Getty Images

Neil Hughes reports for Apple Insider that according to Japanese blog Macotakara, a spy shot claiming to show the rear case of the iPhone 7 is the “real thing” and was assembled by Apple manufacturing partner Catcher Technology. Hughes notes that the most interesting, and puzzling, thing about the rear case shown in the photo is the set of three dots at the bottom of the phone, which seems to indicate that Apple could bring the Smart Connector port, which debuted with the iPad Pro and has so far been used just for keyboard accessories, to the next iPhone.

The photo also shows a dual camera module in the upper left, surrounded by a small in the material (which seems to conflict with rumors that Apple is planning to do away with the rear camera bump with the next iPhone). The Macotakara report also reaffirms earlier rumors that the iPhone 7 will jettison the traditional 3.5mm headphone jack, and the site claims that Apple is working on a new pair of Bluetooth-enabled EarPods that will pair and charge through the Lightning port, just like the Apple Pencil does on the iPad Pro.

Past rumors have suggested that Apple will sell truly wireless Bluetooth earbuds, with separate right and left pieces, and the iPhone 7 is rumored to come with a pair of wired, Lightning-connected EarPods in the box. The Macotakara report also indicates that the next iPhone will feature two sensors of unknown purpose at the top of the device, which could mean that Apple will bring its True Tone display technology to the device. Finally, the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus are expected to be identical in size to the iPhone 6s series phones, which indicates that Apple doesn’t intend to reduce the space around the displays.

4. Apple could replace the MacBook’s keyboard with a touchpad

Apple patents a design for a MacBook without a keyboard

Source: Uspto.gov

Stan Schroeder reports for Mashable that according to a recently published patent filing, Apple has developed a way to replace the keyboard on a MacBook with a giant, force-sensitive touchpad. In the patent, Apple proposes a “force-sensitive input structure for an electronic device” which would form a clean, customizable, flat surface. Apple refers to this kind of input structure as “zero-travel,” which means that the surface wouldn’t move noticeably when you press it in the same way that a keyboard does. The surface would return haptic feedback as you type.

Schroeder notes that the biggest advantage of such a setup would be the configurability, since the user would be able to set aside portions of the touchpad for a numeric keypad, multiple trackpads, or even a special set of keys. If that sounds confusing, you might be glad to know that the document describes how a grid of micro-perforations could make individual keys or areas visible depending with lighting from below.

5. Apple’s electric car project is alive and well

Apple

Source: Apple

There wasn’t much news about Apple’s Project Titan electric car initiative after news broke that the project lead left the company and Jony Ive instituted a hiring freeze. So a Motor Trend feature on Apple’s Project Titan has sparked a significant amount of interest, even though it offers what Ben Lovejoy reports for 9to5Mac is pure speculation, “a bunch of people brainstorming ideas for the car and then producing sketches and renders from them.”

Lovejoy notes that the images simply take design cues from the iPhone, and there’s no new information in the report. Little is known so far about Apple’s electric car project, and Motor Trends speculates that an eventual Apple car could be a “really great family chauffeur who knows the family, knows your schedules.”

According to a report from Silicon Valley Business Journal, Apple has been purchasing and leasing a variety of buildings in Sunnyvale, California for the project, naming most of the facilities after Greek mythological figures. The publication reports that Apple and its contractors have been building a network of industrial projects, filling the facilities with heavy-duty equipment “including gear with potential automotive applications.”

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