6 Apple Rumors: From the iPhone 8 to the Next MacBook Pro

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’s iPhone and other future Apple products made their rounds online. Read on to catch up on the week’s most exciting Apple rumors.

1. The 2017 iPhone may have a virtual button built into its screen

An Apple iPhone 7 is seen during a launch event

An Apple iPhone 7 is seen during a launch event | Stephen Lam/Getty Images

According to an aside in Brian X. Chen’s review of the iPhone 7 for The New York Times, next year’s iPhone “will have a full-screen face with the virtual button built directly into the screen, according to two people at the company who spoke on condition of anonymity because the product details are private.” Roger Fingas reports for Apple Insider that a “virtual button” would have to combine the iPhone 7’s pressure-sensitive technology with “some sort of onscreen representation, possibly even when the phone is otherwise sleeping. It’s also unclear how Apple would handle Touch ID, one option in theory being turning to iris scanning as a replacement.”

Even though the iPhone 7 has only just been released, rumors have already begun to circulate about its 2017 successor. The so-called iPhone 7s or iPhone 8 is expected to bring a major redesign that would mark the iPhone’s 10th anniversary. The device’s major feature is expected to be an edge-to-edge OLED display, which reportedly could be curved like Samsung’s Edge phones on one of three different models. It’s also been rumored that the device could feature iris scanning as a new method of biometric authentication.

2. Apple could make a ceramic iPhone 8

iPhone covers are displayed during a press preview of the new flagship Apple Store

iPhone covers are displayed during a press preview of the new flagship Apple Store | Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Killian Bell reports for Cult of Mac that “Apple’s switch to ceramic for Apple Watch Edition could mean big things for iPhone 8.” Bell proposes that ceramic, which is four times harder than steel, “would be an ideal material for the next generation of iPhone unibodies.” Bell speculates that a new material would be in keeping with the major redesign expected for the iPhone’s 10th anniversary. Aluminum, which Apple has used for the iPhone’s unibody design for the last four years, is lightweight, strong, and scratch-resistant.

But ceramic is “almost impervious” to scuffs and scratches, and zirconia ceramic — the type that Apple uses for the new Apple Watch Edition — is rated at 8.5 on the Mohs scale of mineral hardness, as compared to steel’s 4.5 rating and aluminum’s rating of 2.5 to 3. Additionally, zirconia ceramic can be pigmented to any color without the use of exterior paints, in comparison to the limited color options of anodized aluminum. And a zirconia ceramic iPhone would be far more efficient at carrying heat away from the processor and other internal components than aluminum. Other benefits include the fact that radio signals aren’t blocked by ceramic (so antenna bands would be unnecessary), ceramic is easier to manufacture quickly and precisely than metal, and thanks to lithium ceramic battery technology, the entire case could become the battery.

3. In 2017, the dual-camera system could remain exclusive to larger iPhones

Apple Senior Vice President of Worldwide Marketing Phil Schiller speaks

Apple Senior Vice President of Worldwide Marketing Phil Schiller speaks | Stephen Lam/Getty Images

Eric Slivka reports for MacRumors that according to a research note issued by KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, the dual-camera system introduced on the iPhone 7 Plus could remain exclusive to the larger iPhone model in 2017. According to Kuo, the cost of the system and the niche appeal of the dual camera could lead Apple to keep the system as an exclusive for “high-end” iPhone models in 2017. That means that the camera would appear only on the iPhone 8 Plus model, if Apple continues to offer the same standard and Plus lineup.

Kuo also has some projections about how Apple is likely to improve the dual camera system in 2017. He expects that optical image stabilization could be added to the telephoto camera, since in the iPhone 7 Plus, only the wide angle camera has optical image stabilization. Even though 2017 would normally bring an “S cycle” for the iPhone, and would traditionally focus on internal improvements rather than make big changes to the exterior of the device, rumors have repeatedly indicated that Apple will introduce a major iPhone 8 upgrade to celebrate the iPhone’s 10th anniversary. A glass body, a flexible edge-to-edge OLED display, the removal of the home button, and features like wireless charging or an iris scanner have all been suggested as potential updates for the 2017 iPhone.

4. Apple may remove the 3.5mm headphone jack from the next MacBook Pro

Phil Schiller introduces Lightning headphones during a launch event

Phil Schiller introduces Lightning headphones during a launch event | Stephen Lam/Getty Images

Mikey Campbell reports for Apple Insider that Apple has been polling MacBook Pro users about whether they use the device’s headphone jack, which seems to suggest that the company is considering whether to remove the port from future versions of the MacBook Pro. The poll’s phrasing seems to indicate that Apple is at least considering removing the headphone jack from an upcoming MacBook Pro with Retina. And a separate survey asked users how often they use specific ports, which may be a clue that future MacBook Pro models could save internal space by combining interoperable ports like Thunderbolt 3 and USB-C.

Additionally, surveys asked customers how they import photos to their Mac or about their experiences with battery life and portability. The company is expected to update its MacBook Pro line in the near future, and while we don’t yet have a clear picture of the device’s final design and specifications, Ming-Chi Kuo predicts that the next Retina MacBook Pro will bring a complete redesign with a thinner unibody architecture, an OLED touch bar, and Touch ID. If Apple does remove the headphone jack from an upcoming MacBook Pro, that choice would be in line with its decision to do the same with the iPhone 7. Removing the legacy technology enabled Apple to incorporate better cameras, an advanced Taptic Engine, and larger battery capacity, plus eliminate a point of liquid ingress to design the first water-resistant iPhone.

5. Apple may get some help in rebooting its TV package efforts

man visits the Apple Store

Man visits the Apple Store | Kena Betancur/Getty Images

Mikey Campbell reports for Apple Insider that Apple has hired former Time Warner Cable executive Peter Stern to work on subscription-based products like iTunes, iCloud, and Apple Music, and possibly including the company’s version of an over-the-top TV package. Stern’s hire could help Apple to disrupt the cable television industry, and Campbell points out that while at Time Warner Cable, Stern often argued that companies “should shift from leasing proprietary set-top boxes to offering their content through apps on a variety of platforms.”

Apple has also tried to “dislodge cable providers” from traditional subscription services in order to offer an on-demand, app-based platform powered by Apple TV. But reportedly, the company has so far failed to make much progress in the direction of those goals. Stern’s participation in the Time Warner group that talked with Apple about a potential Apple TV service, plus his experience with cable industry economics and his relationships with major media companies, could help Apple to finally get its subscription service off the ground.

6. Augmented reality may be a future focus for Apple

A woman in the new Brooklyn Apple Store

A woman in the Brooklyn Apple Store | Kena Betancur/Getty Images

In an interview with ABC News, Tim Cook said that he favors augmented reality over virtual reality, which could indicate that AR will be a future focus for Apple. “There’s virtual reality and there’s augmented reality — both of these are incredibly interesting,” Cook said. “But my own view is that augmented reality is the larger of the two, probably by far.” Apple has yet to introduce its own AR and VR products — and the absence of any such announcements regarding the iPhone 7 surprised some — and little is known about Apple’s research into AR or VR technologies. Nonetheless, it’s reported that Apple’s focus on the area has “ramped up,” and Cook’s comments about augmented reality may mean that an AR or VR product could launch.

Mike Wuerthele reports for Apple Insider that Cook has made a few comments about augmented and virtual reality in the past. During a question and answer session on January’s quarterly report, Cook said that VR was “cool” and noted that he didn’t think it was a niche. In a question and answer session on July’s report, Cook said, “AR can be really great,” Cook said. “We have been and continue to invest a lot in this. We are high on AR for the long run, we think there’s great things for customers and a great commercial opportunity. So we’re investing.” And in an interview with The Washington Post in August, Cook said that “I think AR is extremely interesting and sort of a core technology,” adding that “it’s something we’re doing a lot of things on behind that curtain.”