Looking to catch up on the latest rumors about Apple’s plans and products in your holiday downtime? Along with the New Year come all kinds of predictions about what Apple will be working on in 2016. Read on for some of the most exciting Apple rumors to surface this week.
1. The iPhone 6c may be more powerful than we thought, and the iPhone 7 could be waterproof
As Raymond Wang reports for Mashable, a pair of reports originating in Apple’s Chinese supply chain suggest that the rumored 4-inch iPhone 6c could be more than an updated iPhone 5c with faster specs and a metal body. One report indicates that the iPhone 6c will have a display the same size and resolution as that of the iPhone 5s, and will include the iPhone 6s’s A9 processor, 2GB of RAM, and 16GB of internal storage (which would keep prices low but disappoint users of storage-hungry apps and functions). It will also reportedly integrate the TouchID fingerprint sensor and a 1,642mAh battery, which is larger than the iPhone 5c’s 1,507mAh battery or even the iPhone 5S’s 1,570mAh battery.
The other report — which doesn’t clarify whether it’s talking about the new, smaller iPhone or the next-generation iPhone 7 — claims that Apple’s next iPhones could be waterproof and “use new compound materials to hide the antenna,” which is exposed on the back of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6s and has attracted significant criticism. Additionally, the iPhone is one of only a few flagship smartphones that isn’t water-resistant or waterproof, and reports on Apple’s intellectual property has led to much speculation about whether the next iPhone will be more resistant to everyday accidents.
2. HomeKit, Apple Pay, and Maps could get substantial upgrades
Daniel Eran Dilger reports for Apple Insider that while Apple had a lot of successes in 2015, the company has “several weaknesses related to the core strength of its existing ecosystems that it needs to address over the coming year if it wants to retain and enhance its brand of excellence that drives sales of its premium, profitable hardware.” So how will it do that?
While HomeKit isn’t Apple’s most important ecosystem at the moment, Dilger thinks that Apple needs to make 2016 “the year of HomeKit” to rapidly advance its support for HomeKit and drive down the prices of compatible devices. If Apple can use strict management to cultivate a vast ecosystem of affordable but excellent devices, more users will adopt HomeKit.
Further, Apple could improve the Apple Pay ecosystem by enabling users to pay each other directly, and by marketing its own payment terminals to retailers. It also needs to make it easier for users to find Apple Pay merchants in the real world. Additionally, the company needs to improve Maps by adding a more reliable and more sophisticated search functionality, which would go a long way toward making the app more usable for iPhone owners annoyed by the current dysfunctional search.
3. Apple TV may get new apps and features in 2016
Reporting for Apple Insider, Daniel Eran Dilger outlines the history of the Apple TV (well worth a read), and looks at what Apple is likely do in 2016 as it builds on the tvOS platform. It took three years of incremental updates to the iOS-based Apple TV for Apple to launch the current, fourth-generation Apple TV, which is powered by the faster A8 chip and integrates an App Store for third-party software, including games, shopping sites, and other apps. But many of the initial titles for the Apple TV are essentially iPad apps adapted to the new touchpad interface, which Dilger reports has required the development of a new “targeting” user interface, which combines the touch controls of iOS with the highlighting associated with mouse-driven PCs.
Dilger predicts that in 2016, Apple will make a number of changes to improve the tvOS platform and its Apple TV apps. Siri could be improved to support dictation, eliminating the need for awkward text entry. Apple could also automate app authentication, so that users don’t have to enter their cable provider account credentials, by providing a “central mechanism” to register your subscription and profile data without jumping through hoops. Apple is also likely to continue negotiating its cable-alternative streaming service, but in the meantime could develop and enhance additional content with apps of its own.
New apps for the Apple TV could make it easier to share Photos and iMovies with other users, and Apple could launch some of its most popular iOS apps for the Apple TV, perhaps paired with touch navigation on an iPhone or iPad. Maps, Safari, iTunes U, Podcasts, Apple News, and iBooks could all make appearances on Apple TV in 2016, and Apple could introduce an app that makes it easier to manage the Apple TV itself.
4. Apple seems to have OLED suppliers lined up
According to a Reuters report (via VentureBeat), LG and Samsung are going to supply organic light emitting diode (OLED) screens for future iPhones. The report comes after years of speculation that Apple will start using the screen technology in its iPhones. OLED screens are thinner and offer better picture quality than traditional liquid crystal display (LCD) screens.
A recent report in a Japanese newspaper alleged that Apple plans to begin using OLED screens for its iPhones beginning in 2018. LG and Samsung are reportedly close to making a final agreement with Apple to supply the screens, and the two Korean companies reportedly plan to spend a combined 15 trillion won, or about $12.8 billion, in capital expenditure to ramp up their OLED production capacity in the next to to three years. Apple is likely to provide some funding to help the companies with the investment.
5. Apple could put a new focus on augmented and virtual reality
Neil Hughes reports for Apple Insider that as hype builds around augmented reality and virtual reality technology, Apple isn’t expected to sit idly by on the sidelines. Analyst Daniel Ives of FBR & Co. told investors that he expects Apple to be “very aggressive” in developing its own version of the technology in the next year and in acquiring other companies that have made strides in the area.
Apple hasn’t publicly signaled that it’s working on virtual reality products, and no rumors about specific products have yet made an appearance. But the company has acquired a number of virtual reality-related companies in recent years, like motion capture firm Faceshift, augmented reality firm Metaio, and Kinect collaborator PrimeSense. It also holds a number of patents on augmented reality solutions, including filings on transparent displays, mobile mapping solutions, and virtual displays.