With Apple’s much-anticipated iPhone reveal just around the corner, rumors about the company’s future plans and products are flying at record speed. Read on for seven of the most exciting rumors about what’s going on in Cupertino to circulate the Internet this week.
1. Many last-minute iPhone 6s details are emerging.
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With less than two weeks to go before Apple unveils its next-generation iPhones, speculation about the iPhone 6s is at an all-time high. 9to5Mac reports that the iPhone 6s will be capable of shooting 4K video with a new 12MP rear-facing camera. If the rumor proves true, this year will be the first time since 2011 that the iPhone’s megapixel count will be upgraded. The front-facing FaceTime camera will also be upgraded, with an improved sensor and front flash support. The next-generation iPhone is also expected to be offered in a new color option, a “Rose Gold” that 9to5Mac reports is a “copper-like variation on the gold option originally introduced with the iPhone 5s in 2013.”
Apple Insider reports that code discovered in a recent iOS build suggests that Apple is testing implementations of its pressure-sensitive Force Touch technology in the iPhone 6s. The code was discovered by Hamza Sood, a developer with a track record of uncovering unannounced features that are hidden within Apple’s source code. After evaluating a partially-functioning version of the phone, MacRumors reports that the display panel of the iPhone 6s is slightly heavier and thicker than the iPhone 6 version. A new rectangular chip on the rear of the display, plus the added thickness and weight seem consistent with the addition of Force Touch.
9to5Mac also reports that the iPhone 6s will feature a set of animated wallpapers, which seem to come from the same family as the “Motion” watch faces made for the main screen of the Apple Watch. Besides the animated wallpapers, the new iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus are expected to feature a faster A9 processor and more efficient cellular chips from Qualcomm.
2. Rumors conflict on the fate of the iPhone 6c and iPhone 5c.
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Even as Apple fans and analysts prepare for the unveiling of the iPhone 6s, there’s also word going around about the fate of the theoretical four-inch iPhone 6c and the two-year-old iPhone 5c. But in sharp contrast to the consensus that’s formed around the iPhone 6s and its details, everyone has a different opinion on if or when we’ll see a new four-inch iPhone. 9to5Mac reports that there will be no iPhone 6c at Apple’s iPhone event. While Mark Gurman’s sources say that Apple has been working on a new four-inch iPhone, the device is reportedly not yet ready to ship. The company has also allegedly prototyped a phone with a 3.5-inch display, but doesn’t seem to be moving forward to release such a device.
A Chinese report claims that Apple will release the iPhone 6c in November. 9to5Mac reports that while Chinese reports should always be taken with skepticism, this claim isn’t isolated; analyst notes and other reports have made various, conflicting claims about the debut of the iPhone 6c. On the other hand, reliable KGI analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has repeatedly said that a four-inch iPhone isn’t on the agenda this year, but will, in fact, be launched in 2016. The uncertainty hasn’t stopped analysts at IDC from claiming that the iPhone 6c won’t be enough for Apple to compete with the makers of low-cost Android phones — an irrelevant argument without much recognition of Apple’s actual strategy, as pointed out by Cult of Mac.
In addition to renewing the debate on the iPhone 6c, 9to5Mac also reports that Apple plans to discontinue the iPhone 5c, which launched in the fall of 2013 alongside the iPhone 5s. But the company will reportedly keep selling the iPhone 5s and drop the on-contract price to free. Apple is also expected to continue selling the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus after the new iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus begin shipping. Such plans would make the iPhone 5s the entry-level device, place the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus in the middle of the lineup, and put the new iPhone 6S and iPhone 6S Plus at the top.
3. Apple’s iPhone event is definitely happening on September 9.
As Apple Insider reports, Apple sent out invitations to members of the media, officially confirming that its much-anticipated iPhone event is happening on September 9 at San Francisco’s Bill Graham Civic Auditorium. The event is expected to showcase not only the new iPhone 6s, but also a new Apple TV set-top box (more details on the Apple TV refresh below!)
The auditorium has a seating capacity of 7,000, and is a much larger venue than those that Apple usually chooses to host its annual iPhone events. As the Cheat Sheet reported, Apple’s usual venues include the Flint Center, the company’s own offices, and the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. The Yerba Buena Center holds 1,470 people, and the Flint Center hosts 2,400. The Bill Graham Civic Auditorium had been booked for a “trade show” running from September 4 to September 10 by Adams and Associates, a company that did not have any known ties to Apple. If Apple follows its usual release schedule, its new iPhones are likely to be available for purchase on September 18.
As 9to5Mac points out, Apple has also updated its website to announce that it will livestream the event for those not in attendance. To livestream the event, you’ll need an iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch with Safari on iOS 7.0 or later, a Mac with Safari 6.0.5 or later on OS X v10.8.5 or later, or even PC with Microsoft’s new Edge browser on Windows 10. Streaming via Apple TV requires a second- or third-generation Apple TV with software 6.2 or later.
4. A new Apple TV seems just weeks away.
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Speaking of Apple’s upcoming iPhone event, the tagline for this year’s event is “Hey Siri, give us a hint,” and the media invites give plenty of hints that the company will finally unveil an updated Apple TV at the event. The tagline seems to allude to the voice input capability expected with this year’s Apple TV upgrade. The new set-top box is also rumored to feature a redesigned remote control with a touchpad, in addition to a dedicated App Store.
5. Apple Music could add deeper integration with Siri.
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Apple Insider reports that a job opening posted by Apple offers an interesting look at the company’s plans for Apple Music. The listing calls for a Siri software engineer with an interest in music to “help extend Siri’s integration with Apple Music,” by “designing and implementing natural language interactions and work flow.” The company is looking for candidates with a bachelor’s degree or master’s degree in computer science, plus five years of industry experience.
Siri integration is already one of the features that makes Apple Music different from competitors like Spotify or Rdio. A number of voice commands are already built into the service, and cover not only basic playback options, but also ones that require the software to pick up on contextual clues or gather information from several separate databases. For example, Siri can prioritize popular albums when given common search terms, or can play songs that topped charts on a given day, month, or year.
Apple Insider reports that new commands will likely wait until 2016, given the fact that Apple already has its plate full with the improvements iOS 9 is bringing this fall. Upcoming updates include a redesigned graphical interface for Apple Music, and the service is expected to soon make its debut on Android and on Apple TV. (That would coincide perfectly with a new version of Apple TV upgraded to support Siri.)
6. Bands could give the Apple Watch new health-tracking functions.
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Apple Insider reports that a new rumor about the Apple Watch claims that Apple is working on “smart bands” that add capabilities to the wearable without necessitating buying an entire new watch. The bands could launch as soon as 2016, and could add blood oxygen, respiratory rate, blood pressure, and body temperature sensors. The Czech report where the rumor originates alleges that these sensors have to be in the band of a watch in order to give accurate readings. A body temperature sensor, for instance, would be affected by the heat from the components of the watch, and needs to be placed on the opposite side of the wrist to collect accurate data.
Apple is reportedly working on a variety of bands that would be offered in different styles and configurations. The first bands could launch in early 2016. All current models of the Apple Watch include a “hidden” data port within one of the strap attachment grooves. The port is a six-pin connector that can transfer data and power to the device, but it’s covered with a difficult-to-remove cap and isn’t currently intended for use. Apple Insider notes that it’s unclear how Apple would enable users to access the port to install a smart band. They might need to visit an Apple Store to have the band installed on the Apple Watch.
Even though the option of smart bands would enable users to go longer without upgrading to a new Apple Watch, 9to5Mac reports that the potential launch of such bands likely won’t prevent Apple from updating the watch’s hardware annually. The publication reports that Apple is already preparing a second-generation Apple Watch. In the meantime, Apple is preparing to roll out watchOS 2, an updated version of the watch’s software that will enable third-party apps to run natively on the watch. The update is scheduled to be released this fall, and is currently available as a beta to developers.
7. Future EarPods could go wireless, and use bone conduction noise canceling.
Apple Insider reports that a newly-published patent application reveals how Apple’s EarPods could get a major upgrade. The document describes how a wireless headset could use sensors to determine which sound data to pass along to the user. The technology is intended primarily for microphone-enabled headsets, and would enable users to make calls in which they could hear their voice and that of the other person, without enduring the sounds of wind and other background noise that can disrupt a call.
Both earbuds are outfitted with multiple onboard microphones, accelerometers, batteries, communications hardware, and logic for audio signal processing. Each earbud would capture noise, wind levels, and the acoustic signal of the user’s voice, and the accelerometer simultaneously detects vibrations of the user’s vocal chords as they modulate through bone and tissue to decipher speech and pitch. The system would also use acoustic and inertial sensor data to determine if an earbud is actually in a user’s ear, in order to default voice output to the second earbud if it isn’t.
The publication notes that Apple’s work on bone conduction technology has been ongoing, as the company filed a patent for accelerometer-assisted noise cancellation last September. However, Apple has yet to implement the technology, and even its most advanced earphone designs still rely on cables.