More Apple rumors than ever are circulating each week as Apple fans, industry watchers, and tech bloggers look eagerly toward what Apple will unveil this fall. But beyond the constant, and often questionable, leaks of components, specifications, and speculation, some interesting rumors and reports about Apple’s future plans have surfaced this week. Read on for five of the most interesting Apple rumors this week.
1. Siri could answer your calls and transcribe your voicemails
James Cook reports for Business Insider that Apple is testing a voicemail service that would use Siri to answer your calls and transcribe your voicemail messages. Apple’s iCloud would then send you the transcribed text of the voicemail, therefore negating the need for you to ever spend time listening to your voicemails again. The service is reportedly being prepared for a 2016 launch.
Cook notes that the service would offer a neat solution to the problem with voicemail: people like leaving voicemail messages, since doing so is often faster than typing out a text message, but they don’t really like to receive voicemails, since it’s a lot faster to read a text message than to listen to a spoken message.
Cook reports that when someone using iCloud Voicemail isn’t able to take a call, Siri would answer instead of letting the call go to to a standard digital audio recorder. iCloud Voicemail could relay information about where you are and why you can’t pick up the phone to certain contacts, and Siri would be able to transcribe any incoming voicemails. Siri will be upgraded with iOS 9, and the voicemail service is reportedly scheduled to be released in 2016, presumably with the iOS 10 mobile operating system.
2. Apple could — but probably won’t — launch a cellular service
This rumor got its start with a report from Business Insider’s James Cook, who wrote that Apple is in talks to establish a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) service in the United States and Europe. Cook said that sources “close to Apple” is privately trialling the MVNO service in the U.S., and wrote that “Apple has been in talks with telecoms companies for years over its MVNO plans, those sources say, adding that it’s an “open secret” among carriers that a virtual Apple network is on the way.”
But Roger Fingas reports for Apple Insider that, in a pretty rare move for the tech giant, Apple issued a statement denying the rumor that it’s planning on becoming a mobile virtual network operator. It says it has no plans to do so. Fingas notes that iPhone users are among the most profitable subscribers for wireless carriers, and points out that for companies like AT&T and Verizon to sell excess capacity to Apple would constitute a forfeiture of those valuable customers.
Apple Insider sources indicated earlier this year that Apple is considering shipping the iPhone 6s with its own Apple SIM card, which would make it easier for users to select and switch wireless plans. That move, as well, would likely concern wireless carriers from around the world. Before the launch of the first iPhone, Steve Jobs reportedly considered creating a proprietary wireless network based on unlicensed WiFi spectrum, and patent filings show that around the same time, the company also explored the idea of a phone that could jump between multiple carriers’ networks on a unique roaming network.
3. Apple might be looking to bring the mixtape back
Luke Dormehl reports for Cult of Mac that Apple Music is all about playlists curated by Apple’s growing list of experts, but a patent application published this week reveals a potential iTunes feature that could enable users to create “digital mixtapes” for their friends. The application explains that users would be able to name their albums, select their songs and the order they play in, augment them with extra audio files, images, movies, and even personalized messages.
Dormehl explains, “Just like the kinds of playlists people made back in the cassette era, it would be possible to hide the name of whatever track was coming up next — leaving it as a surprise.” The patent application describes a creation tool for users to assemble their mixtapes. Once a mixtape has been made for a specific user, iTunes would send the recipient a push notification. If the recipient accepts the mixtape, then the sender would be charged for the iTunes tracks that they’ve used, while if the mixtape is rejected, he or she won’t be charged.
The feature would fit in well with Apple’s curated approach to music. Cult of Mac notes that Spotify and other music services already offer playlist sharing. But if Apple is able to create a good user interface for the feature, it could certainly take off.
4. Apple Pay’s adoption seems to be suffering
Apple Insider’s Mikey Campbell reports that an ongoing InfoScout survey shows that the number of potential Apple Pay users who tried the service dropped from 15.1% in March to 13.1% in June. Additionally, the number of survey respondents who answered yes to the question, “Did you use Apple Pay on this transaction?” dropped from 39.3% to 23% over the same period. “As more and more people buy iPhone 6’s we are seeing a lower percentage of them adopting or trying Apple Pay,” InfoScout chief executive Jared Schrieber told Apple Insider. “That shouldn’t necessarily be a surprise as we move from people who are early adopters and more likely to try things, to later adopters who are not.”
Security concerns and poor user experiences have also had a detrimental effect on Apple Pay adoption, and Campbell also notes that Apple’s customer outreach leaves plenty of room for improvement. The survey revealed that the portion of iPhone owners who haven’t yet to tried the payments system because they don’t know how it works rose slightly, but significantly, from 31% in March to 34% in June.
Despite what seem to be the negative trends highlighted by the survey, it bears keeping in mind that Apple Pay is one of the most popular contactless payments solutions, thanks in no small part to the iPhone’s large user base. Additionally, the survey covers only American users, who are more familiar with swiping a card than using a tap-to-pay system. Apple is slowly rolling out Apple Pay to international markets, where adoption rates may follow a different trajectory.
5. An iMac with a 4K display could be on its way
Apple Insider reports that a new set of configuration files discovered in the latest beta of Apple’s OS X El Capitan operating system point to an unreleased Apple product with a new-to-Apple 4K resolution. The files, as spotted by the French website Consomac, reference a display with a standard 4K 4,096-pixel-by-2,304-pixel default resolution. The speculation over which of Apple’s products may get a 4K upgrade has zeroed in on Apple’s 21.5-inch iMac, which hasn’t seen significant upgrades for the past two years.
That speculation has been backed up icons in related files that identify the unreleased product as an iMac, but Apple Insider notes that the association is unclear, and the publication wasn’t able to confirm it independently. Upgrading the 21.5-inch display to a 4K resolution would yield a desktop with about 218 pixels per inch, approximately the same as Apple’s 27-inch 5K version. The files indicate that users of the hypothetical screen would be able to choose scaled resolutions up to 5K.
Apple Insider notes that this is the second time in the past three months that an El Capitan beta has hinted at an upcoming 4K desktop computer. KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said that he expects new iMacs to debut in the coming months, but didn’t share any word on a 4K-resolution 21.5-inch iMac.