5 Apple Rumors: From the Apple Watch 2 to the iPhone 6c

It doesn’t seem that long since Apple unveiled the iPhone 6s and the iPhone 6s Plus, launched the iPad Pro, or announced the latest generation of the Apple TV. In fact, it’s hard to imagine that it’s been a few quarters already since Apple initially launched the Apple Watch, its very first wearable device. But as always, the rumor mill surrounding the plans and patents Apple’s working on continues moving forward. Read on to catch up on five of the most exciting Apple rumors to surface this week.

1. Apple may unveil the Apple Watch 2 and the iPhone 6c in March

Pablo Cuadra/Getty Images

Pablo Cuadra/Getty Images

Mark Gurman reports for 9to5Mac that Apple is planning an Apple Watch 2 event for March. Gurman says that, according to “sources with knowledge of the plans,” the company would then ship the second version of the Apple Watch by April, almost a year after the first-generation Apple Watch originally went on sale. The publication notes that a March event would be the second in a row for Apple; at last year’s March event, the company debuted the 12-inch MacBook, unveiled the ResearchKit framework, and put the finishing touches on the first version of the Apple Watch.

Gurman reports that Apple has been working on a new camera, WiFi capabilities, sleep tracking, and health sensor technology for the new Apple Watch. It’s unclear so far which of those additions are planned for the version that could be launched early in the new year. Apple last updated the Apple Watch in September, adding new colors, new bands, and software features to the Apple Watch lineup.

Gurman’s sources report that Apple could unveil the iPhone 6c, widely expected to be a 4-inch model, at the same event in March. The device would enable Apple to again offer an iPhone in a smaller form factor. Many Apple fans have expressed interest in another model that’s smaller than the 4.7-inch iPhone 6s or the 5.5-inch iPhone 6s Plus. A smaller device is easier for one-handed use. The specifications of the iPhone 6c are expected to fall somewhere between those of the iPhone 5s and the iPhone 6s, and rumors suggest that the device could use an earlier camera system while integrating the new A9 chip.

2. Apple probably won’t unveil a TV service anytime soon

Stephen Lam/ Getty Images

Stephen Lam/ Getty Images

Peter Kafka reports for Re/Code that Apple has, yet again, walked away from negotiations with TV networks over its potential TV streaming service. As Kafka explains, “there’s a dispute between Apple and the TV guys about how much Apple should pay the TV guys.” But he notes that while there are disputes about money in any negotiation, while “Apple’s beef with the TV Industrial Complex is a bit more nuanced.”

Apple has reportedly been pushing for a “skinny” bundle of television channels, perhaps limited to a dozen networks, and delivered over the Internet for a fee of no more than $30 per month. The price of the individual channels that Apple wants to include is at issue, but the composition of the package is just as important both to Apple and to the TV networks.

“If Apple gets its way,” Kafka explains,”the traditional pay TV package, which averages around 100 channels, will get shrunk by nearly 80 percent. And while TV executives will say they understand that consumers don’t want to pay for channels they don’t watch, all of them will argue that their channels are must-haves.” That means that 21st Century Fox, for instance, is reluctant to negotiate over the rights for Fox or Fox News without bundling in its FX channels or its Fox Sports 1 network. “The same goes for Disney (ABC, ESPN, Disney, etc.) and NBCUniversal (NBC, Bravo, USA, SyFy, etc.) and on down the line,” Kafka explains.

Earlier in the year, Apple seemed confident that it could win over an industry that has yet to embrace the idea of the skinny bundle. It had hoped to launch or announce its new web TV service along with the new Apple TV, but it’s unclear when Apple and TV executives will resume negotiations over the service.

3. Patent issues may be at fault for the design of Apple’s battery case

Apple Smart Battery Case for iPhone

Source: Apple.com

Lots of people have questioned the design choices that Apple made when it unveiled its Smart Battery Case, most notably the unsightly rectangular bulge where the battery is housed. A number of people have complained about the product, but The Verge’s Nilay Patel has an interesting theory on why the battery case is one of Apple’s least attractive products: that it was designed around the numerous patents held by Mophie, the “biggest name in battery cases.”

Patel explains, “Mophie has tons of patents on the design and functionality of these things. Reading through a few, it’s hard not to see Apple’s case as being deliberately designed around Mophie’s patents — including that unsightly bulge.” Patel gives an example of a patent that claims the right to cases that include “A lower case that contains a battery and sides that extend along a mobile device, with internal and external power connectors, and an on / off switch” and a ” removable upper case.” Any cases that include those elements — cases where a phone slides into the bottom case with an upper case that’s attached on top — would technically be infringing on Mophie’s patent.

Mophie has a number of patents on cases with two-part designs, and most other companies making battery cases steer away from Mophie’s two-part design. But all those other designs “kinda suck,” Patel notes, so Apple didn’t take the same route as other companies trying not to infringe on Mophie’s patents. That could be why Apple settled on “a single-piece case with a floppy top and a bulging battery that has nothing in common with various patented Mophie designs.”

4. Apple is continuing to work toward a waterproof iPhone

Ken Ishii/Getty Images

Ken Ishii/Getty Images

Mikey Campbell reports for Apple Insider that Apple has filed yet another patent application hinting at its plans for a waterproof iPhone. The most recent document suggests a method of waterproofing that buries sensitive contacts beneath a layer of self-healing elastomer, which enables connectors to penetrate without making lasting visual or structural damage.

When an iPhone is accidentally dunked or submerged for a long period of time, water finds its way into ports like the Lightning port or the headphone socket. But the system that Apple’s patent application outlines would use the elastomer to cover those ports. It would move when you plug in your phone charger or EarPods, but would then heal itself and cover the ports again when the cable is removed.

While Apple files numerous patents that it never implements in real products, a large number of filings related to a waterproof iPhone have surfaced. The company has been researching a variety of ways to make the iPhone more water-resistant, if not fully waterproof, so it seems likely that at least a few of the company’s inventions on that front will make it to a future iOS device.

5. An Apple TV 5 could go into production early in 2016

Source: Apple

Source: Apple

Benjamin Mayo reports for 9to5Mac that a report originating in Apple’s Chinese supply chain indicates that Apple may be increasing the pace of its Apple TV iterations. Apple is allegedly preparing to begin the test production of a fifth-generation Apple TV set-top box early in 2016. The device will reportedly feature upgraded internal components that would “drastically improve the hardware performance” and “add new functions.”

The report is vague on what new functions the next Apple TV could offer, though it does imply that the product would launch within six months of the current generation’s debut. Mayo notes that that could upset owners of the fourth-generation Apple TV, though “Apple has done stuff like this before,” such as with the launch of the iPad 4 just six months after the debut of the iPad 3.

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