6 Apple Rumors: From a Foldable iPhone to iTunes Features

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. Though you might think that the Apple rumor mill would have slowed down after the launch of this year’s iPhone 7, that hasn’t been the case so far. So this week, plenty of exciting rumors about next year’iPhone 8, upcoming software features, and other future Apple products made their rounds online. Read on to catch up on the week’s most exciting Apple rumors.

1. Apple’s 2017 iPhone could retain the design of the iPhone 7

A Chinese woman tests the new iPhone 7 during the opening sale launch at an Apple store

The next iPhone may look a whole lot like the iPhone 7 | Johannes Eisele/Getty Images

Mikey Campbell reports for AppleInsider that a recent rumor breaks form with other current predictions about Apple’s 2017 iPhone model. This report, published by Macotakara and citing sources within Apple’s Taiwanese supply chain, indicates that the iPhone Apple releases next year could retain the design of this year’s iPhone 7. The report expects that the 2017 iPhone, so far referred to as either the iPhone 7s or the iPhone 8, would get upgraded internal components, like an updated processor.

The report seems to indicate that Apple will continue to follow its usual hardware refresh pattern, which involves adding upgraded components to the previous year’s chassis in “S” year models. Apple has continued that pattern since the introduction of the iPhone 4s in 2011. However, the report runs counter to predictions from KGI analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who expects Apple’s 10th-anniversary iPhone to feature a glass chassis design and integrated wireless charging.

2. Apple may offer a red color option for the next iPhone

The new iPhone 7 smartphone in its box is on display on the day of its release at Covent Garden

Good news for those who love red — it could be an iPhone color option | Jack Taylor/Getty Images

David Pierini reports for Cult of Mac that red may be a color option for Apple’s next iPhone. According to the Macotakara report on the 2017 iPhone, Apple may be considering red as a new addition to the 2017 iPhone lineup. The publication also claims that a glass chassis and wireless charging, two features that other sources expect for the 2017 iPhone, won’t appear on next year’s phone.

However, Pierini reports that the “red iPhone may be a red herring.” Even Macotakara “referred to it as a rumor.” Pierini notes, on the other hand, that red may be a color that makes sense for Apple. “Apple is a partner with the (RED) organization to help fight the spread of HIV and AIDS. Apple will issue (PRODUCT)RED devices and send a contribution to the Global Fund.”

3. A patent application supports rumors that Apple is working on autonomous driving systems

Apple CEO Tim Cook looks at the new 27-inch iMac with 5K retina display

Autonomous driving systems could be in our future thanks to Apple | Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Apple is widely rumored to be working on systems that could power autonomous vehicles, and Mikey Campbell reports for AppleInsider that we finally have one of the first pieces of documentation proving Apple’s investigation into the area. The patent application describes a collision avoidance system and offers proof that Apple is investigating machine learning and computer vision applications related to autonomous vehicles. Campbell notes that Apple has expressed interest in autonomous vehicle testing in a statement to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

In that statement, Apple proposed a policy update that would give newcomers to the industry the same opportunities that established manufacturers get to test their technology on public roads. Campbell notes that the letter also lists “specific areas of attention and potential regulation modifications that suggest Apple has been investigating the space for some time.” Those areas include the “implications of artificial decision making on safety, mobility, and legality; ensuring privacy and security in automated vehicle design; and the impact driverless vehicles will have on the public good, for example employment.”

4. Apple seems to be getting serious about attracting artificial intelligence experts

Crowds wait in anticipation for the release of the iPhone 7 at Apple Store

Apple is becoming more open about their AI research | Ryan Pierse/Getty Images

Ben Lovejoy reports for 9to5Mac that Apple is changing its notoriously secretive approach to artificial intelligence research, likely in a bid to “attract the best minds” in the area. In what Lovejoy and others have characterized as an apparent reversal of Apple’s traditional position, Apple director of AI research Russ Salakhutdinov announced that Apple machine-learning researchers will be allowed to publish their findings. It had been suggested that Apple’s secrecy was harming its ability to innovate and compete in the area of artificial intelligence research, since disallowing researchers to publish cuts them off from the scientific community. 

Jordan Kahn reports that details about the research areas Apple is exploring are already beginning to emerge. During a machine-learning conference, Salakhutdinov detailed some of the AI areas that Apple is researching. Research on “volumetric detection of LiDAR” and “prediction of structured outputs” related to autonomous vehicles were mentioned. So were applications including recognizing images, predicting user behavior, and modeling language for use in personal assistants.

5. iTunes may offer early access to new movies

Apple employees greet customers as they arrive to buy the new Apple iPhone 7

If you’re anxious to see new movies before all of your friends, look toward iTunes in the future | Kazuhiro Nogi/AFP/Getty Images

Anousha Sakoui and Alex Webb report for Bloomberg that Apple is in talks with Hollywood movie companies over early access to movies on iTunes. According to sources “with knowledge of the matter,” 21st Century Fox, Time Warner’s Warner Brothers, and Comcast’s Universal Pictures “are looking to offer high-priced, home-video rentals of new movies shortly after they open in theaters.” Some studio executives have reportedly been pushing to allow home rentals as early as two weeks after theatrical debuts and are considering a deal with iTunes.

Bloomberg characterizes the current talks as “part of longer-running efforts by Cupertino, California-based Apple to get new movies sooner.” Early access to new movies would help iTunes stand out and offer something unique in the crowded video streaming space. However, Bloomberg notes that the studios could end up choosing a different technology platform, not Apple’s. They are reportedly concerned over whether iTunes will be a secure platform for delivering movies that are still in theaters.

6. Apple seems to be investigating the idea of a foldable iPhone with a wraparound display

Apple Senior Vice President of Worldwide Marketing Phil Schiller speaks

The idea of a foldable phone is being discussed in the Apple community | Stephen Lam/Getty Images

Mikey Campbell reports for AppleInsider that a recent patent application details a folding iPhone with a wraparound display, adding more details to a concept covered by another recent filing. The document describes a device with curved glass sidewalls under which are touch-sensitive displays. The design features a wraparound display, similar to the one described in a previous patent filing. The main display on the phone’s front face extends beyond what Campbell characterizes as the “traditional border regions” and onto the curved sides of the device.

Campbell notes that the designs for the device’s sidewalls “are akin to those implemented by smartphone rival Samsung in the Galaxy Edge series.” Some versions of the device feature touch layers on all surfaces, including the rear wall. That’s an unusual choice, and Campbell explains that “very few OEMs have built rear-facing multitouch controls into their portable hardware for fear of confusing users.” The device could feature an enclosure that would enable the device to bend or fold along one or more axes.