6 Apple Rumors: From the Apple Watch 2 to 2017 iPhones

An exciting assortment of Apple rumors surfaces each week and offers a glimpse into the current state of speculation about upcoming iPhones, new iPads, and the next updates for Apple’s operating systems. The Apple rumor mill is kicking into high gear as we get closer and closer to the launch of this year’s iPhone 7. So this week, plenty of exciting rumors about the next iPhone, future iPhones, and other Apple inventions made their rounds online. Read on to catch up on the week’s most exciting Apple rumors.

1. Apple may introduce a new video sharing and editing app

Apple iPhones

Apple iPhones | S. Alemdar/Getty Images

Mark Gurman and Alex Webb report for Bloomberg that Apple is developing a video sharing and editing app that would enable it to “capitalize on the popularity of social networks.” Cupertino’s plans for the app are reportedly “part of a newly directed focus to integrate social networking applications within Apple’s mobile products and are a response to the success of social media-focused companies” like Facebook and Snapchat. Bloomberg notes that iOS 10 will introduce overhauled iMessage functionality “aimed squarely” at Facebook Messenger and WeChat with animated effects, an App Store with plug-ins for sending images and stickers, and tools to draw on top of photos and videos.

Apple’s video sharing app would reportedly enable users to record video, apply filters and drawings to clips, and send the resulting media to contacts or share it to social networks. Gurman and Webb report that the app is being designed for one-handed use and “with the intention that video could be shot, edited, and uploaded in less than 1 minute.” The app, which is still in the preliminary development stages, may be offered as a download via the App Store or packaged into the iPhone’s existing camera app and is reportedly slated for a 2017 release.

Also of interest is Bloomberg’s assertion that Apple is currently testing “multiple social-related features,” including a revamped version of the proactive assistant functionality (which currently recommends points of interest, apps, and contacts based on the location and time of day). The proposed changes would “more effectively connect users with their contacts” by making sharing a system-wide feature and consolidating communications between users into a single interface.

2. Siri’s voice may sound more natural when iOS 10 arrives

Phil Schiller discusses Siri, the new personal assistant for the iPhone 4s

Questions for Siri | Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Steven Levy reports for Backchannel that when iOS 10 arrives, Siri’s voice is going to sound more natural thanks to machine learning technology. Levy reports that though Apple has stayed silent on its use of artificial intelligence — including its implementation of machine learning techniques like deep neural networks (DNN), convolutional neural networks, long short-term memory units, gated recurrent units, and n-grams — it has already implemented that technology in many of its products and services.

Apple has figured out ways around the problems that the “AI establishment” cites with regards to Apple’s ecosystem: its lack of a search engine and its insistence on protecting user information. To enable machine learning on the iPhone, Apple uses a “brain” comprised of about 200MB of data on “app usage, interactions with other people, neural net processing, a speech modeler, and ‘natural language event modeling,'” plus data used for the neural nets that power object recognition, face recognition, and scene classification.

Apple has been replacing technology licensed from third parties with solutions that it’s built in-house. Levy reports that with iOS 10, Siri’s voice will become the last of the components of the service to be “transformed by machine learning” as a deep neural network replaces a previously-licensed implementation. While Siri’s remarks come from a database of recordings, and each sentence is “a stitched-together patchwork of those chunks,” machine learning will smooth them out and make Siri sound more like a real person.

3. Future iPhones could collect fingerprints and take photos of thieves

NEW YORK, NY - JULY 27: The Apple Store, Upper West Side is shown July 27, 2016 in New York City. On Tuesday, Apple reported a steep slump in revenue and profit, but beat analyst projections. The maker of the iPhone and iPad reported third-quarter profit sliding 27 percent to $1.42 per share, according to published reports. Analysts had expected $1.39 per share, according to the reports. Apple's share price today jumped on forward guidance from the company.

Apple store | Kena Betancur/Getty Images

Mikey Campbell reports for Apple Insider that according to a recently-filed patent application, Apple is considering a system that would enable an iPhone to use its Touch ID module, camera, and other sensors to collect information about a potential thief. This proactive security system — which Campbell reports is “simple but brilliant” as well as “legally fuzzy” — works in much the same way as the existing Touch ID system.

That system gives the user five attempts to unlock the iPhone or iPad with Touch ID before it requires a six-digit passcode or alphanumeric code. Ten failed passcode attempts results in either a “cool down” period of a data wipe, and passcodes are required after restarting the device, after more than 48 hours have elapsed between unlocks, or when the owner wants to manage Touch ID and Passcode settings.

Similarly, the system described in Apple’s patent application uses device triggers. In one embodiment, one failed authentication could trigger the immediate capture of fingerprint data and a photo of the user, while in other cases, the device could evaluate the factors that trigger biometric capture based on a variety of security protocols set by Apple or the user. Additionally, the system could use machine learning to decide when to capture data. In addition to capturing fingerprint data, the device could also record time stamps, device location, speed, air pressure, and audio data.

Campbell notes that the invention “moves away from industry standard countermeasures and into the gray area of proactive digital forensics,” which makes it unlikely that Apple will implement the technology on any consumer devices in the near future.

4. The Apple Watch 2 probably won’t include cellular connectivity

Apple Watch display

Apple Watch display | Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Mark Gurman, Alex Webb, and Scott Moritz report for Bloomberg that Apple has run into roadblocks that will prevent it from implementing cellular connectivity on the second-generation Apple Watch. Nonetheless, Bloomberg reports that the company still plans to introduce new watch models this fall, and will focus on improvements to health tracking. The updated versions of the Apple Watch will also integrate GPS-based location tracking, which would enable devices to track running and walking distances more precisely, and would also improve the accuracy of the data submitted to health tracking apps.

Apple has reportedly been in talks with mobile phone carriers in the United States and in Europe to add cellular connectivity to the Apple Watch. A cellular chip would enable the device to download information while out of the reach of a paired iPhone. But current cellular chips reportedly consume too much battery life, and Apple is eyeing lower-power chips for future Apple Watch generations.

5. Apple may launch three new iPhones in 2017

Apple logo | Timothy A. Clary/AFP/Getty Images

Roger Fingas reports for Apple Insider that Apple is preparing not two but three iPhone models for 2017, the third of which will have a curved OLED screen similar to the Edge versions of Samsung’s Galaxy phones. A source told Japanese publication Nikkei that Apple will launch a 4.7-inch model, a 5.5-inch model, and a premium model that will either measure 5.5 inches or larger, with a screen that’s curved on both sides. The first two models, on the other hand, would retain the flat screens seen in Apple’s current iPhone lineup.

While the report didn’t specifically mention OLED technology, Fingas notes that a curved screen “effectively requires it.” It’s unclear whether the other two iPhone models would also feature OLED screens. Although they’ve been largely dismissed, early rumors indicated that the iPhone 7 might come in three versions: the standard, Plus, and a new Pro model. Apple’s 2017 iPhone models are rumored to feature edge-to-edge displays and a major redesign.

6. Future iPhones could gain augmented reality capabilities

Apple store

Apple store | Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Mikey Campbell reports for Apple Insider that a patent reassigned from Apple’s acquisition of augmented reality startup Flyby Media details augmented reality mapping that uses computer vision and inertial measurement sensors. The technology described in the patent would enable an iPhone to figure out its place and orientation in three-dimensional space with camera imagery and sensor data.

Because the technology can be used to label points on a digital map, it could act as a visual aid in locating items at a store. It could also store the last known position of an object, and could even help users find things like a misplaced set of keys. Additionally, the technology could create a 3D map of any environment, or mark wireless signal strength as a user walks through a building. And the technology could power other augmented reality navigation solutions.

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