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. This week, there were new rumors and reports about Apple’s plans for WWDC, upcoming MacBooks, the iPhone 7, and new Apple patents. Read on to catch up on this week’s most exciting Apple rumors.
1. Apple may announce a major iTunes overhaul at WWDC
Benjamin Mayo reports for 9to5Mac that according to a recent report, Apple is planning to announce a major iTunes overhaul at its Worldwide Developers Conference. Digital Music News is again reporting that Apple is considering removing iTunes downloads permanently, and instead, focusing on its Apple Music streaming service for music distribution. Mayo notes that, “reading between the lines,” it sounds like Apple is open to a variety of options, among which it will choose based on future market conditions. However, it doesn’t sound like the company has any firm plans to ditch the traditional music download model, especially since Apple has denied reports that allege as much.
More interestingly, the report also claims that at WWDC, Apple will unveil a major iTunes overhaul, simplifying the core functions of the app, better presenting Apple’s music offerings, and clarifying confusion about how Apple Music works alongside the iTunes Store. Such an overhaul would make sense alongside an Apple Music redesign, which is expected to be introduced with iOS 10. Some of the new iTunes changes are likely to incorporate upgraded Apple Music features, like licensed lyrics integration and a black and white interface revamp.
2. WWDC likely won’t bring any product announcements
WWDC is expected to be a software-focused event this year, and some think that Apple won’t make any announcements about updates to its product lines. Instead, Apple is expected to announce the next versions of its software platforms: iOS 10, OS X 10.12 (or MacOS), watchOS 3, and a new tvOS. 9to5Mac reports that WWDC likely won’t bring any new product announcements this year, but will instead bring news about updates and new features for Apple’s operating systems.
iOS is expected to gain a design refresh, with new colors and changes to the notifications system. Apple is also expected to introduce big changes for Photos and a refreshed Apple Music app. Additionally, 9to5Mac reports that Siri “is going to be a big part of the keynote,” since Apple is expected to launch a Siri SDK for developers. “The reason why it is taking so long,” the publication explains, “is privacy concerns.” It’s unclear whether apps will need to be approved to be part of the SDK. Other iOS topics that Apple may address are iMessage financial transfers through Apple Pay and possibly new encryption software.
Jordan Kahn reports that Apple is also expected to make announcements about Siri for Mac, as well as new Touch ID features related to the OLED touchscreen reported to be coming to the MacBook Pro (more on that on the next page). But even if Touch ID doesn’t make its way to Apple’s latest Macs, one report has claimed that OS X 10.12 will feature support for unlocking your Mac using your iPhone’s Touch ID sensor. That would also open new possibilities for using the iPhone’s Touch ID sensor for other purposes on the Mac.
3. Big changes may be coming to the MacBook Pro
Neil Hughes reports for Apple Insider that Apple may announce a drastic change to its MacBook Pro hardware. Reports on the MacBook lineup that Apple intends to unveil in June indicate that the redesigned MacBook Pro will feature USB-C and Thunderbolt 3 ports, plus secure Touch ID login, and a dynamic OLEd display touch bar that will replace the row of function keys placed about the keyboard. However, there’s disagreement over when new MacBook Pros will appear. The current report claims a June announcement and August launch, while reliable KGI analyst Ming-Chi Kuo doesn’t expect a new MacBook Pro to hit the market until the fourth quarter of the year.
As Jeff Benjamin reports for 9to5Mac, various leaks and reports have indicated that the next-generation MacBook Pro will replace the fn-key row with an OLED capacitive touch panel. Proponents are excited about the level of software flexibility that such a setup would offer, while critics have lamented the potential lack of tactile response when touch typing. Nonetheless, the feature would represent a significant change.
Ben Lovejoy reports for 9to5Mac that Apple is also rumored to announce a new MacBook Air this month, but that one will likely be only a minor refresh. However, Apple’s current MacBook Air lineup already received a minor refresh this year, and it’s widely expected that the current MacBook Air design and lineup are on their way out. But given the fact that the current report talks about a 15-inch MacBook Air — a size that hasn’t ever been available for that model — it’s possible that the new “MacBook Air” reportedly in the works is just Apple’s next-generation MacBook Pro. It’s been rumored that the MacBook Pro will be redesigned to be thinner than ever, which could cause some confusion on branding within Apple’s supply chain.
Also on the topic of Macs, Chance Miller reports for 9to5Mac that more hints have emerged that Apple plans to rebrand OS X to to MacOS. Killian Bell reports for Cult of Mac that a rebranding has been rumored for months, but began seeming particularly credible in March, when it was discovered that source code for the OS X 10.11.4 update referred to macOS.
4. The iPhone 7 may finally drop the 16GB storage option
Ben Lovejoy reports for 9to5Mac that the iPhone 7 may feature 32GB, 128GB, and 256GB storage tiers. Supply chain research by TrendForce indicates that most of the specifications of the iPhone 7 have now been finalized, and the specifics provided line up with what’s been reported in the past. The iPhone 7 is expected to be offered in two sizes: 4.7 inches and 5.5 inches. The research indicates that one of the “major hardware highlights” is expanded storage for all models. The firm expects a top storage tier of 256GB, but reports that Apple hasn’t yet decided whether it should retain the 64GB middle tier, or increase it to 128GB. A recent report has suggested that Apple will finally drop the 16GB entry-level tier in favor of a 32GB model.
TrendForce also agrees with a KGI report that there’s a specific reason for a much-rumored decision to include 3GB of RAM in the larger iPhone 7 model: a dual camera system to be included only in the larger iPhone 7 Plus. The report explains, “The 5.5-inch iPhone 7 will be the first in series to have 3GB of memory in the form of four stacked 6Gb mono-die modules. The additional memory is used to process the images taken from the dual-camera.” The company also agrees that Apple won’t use OLED screens in this year’s iPhones, and will instead make that switch in 2017 or 2018.
Benjamin Mayo reports for the publication that 16GB iPhones have stuck around far too long in Apple’s product range. Many users find it difficult to make do with a 16GB iPhone, a storage tier that was added to the iPhone lineup in 2008 and has remained the base model ever since. Just a few apps, photos, and videos easily fill the available storage on 16GB iPhones, especially on the latest iPhones, which are capable of 4K video recording. The suggestion that Apple could increase the base model to 32GB is interesting, since that’s a storage tier that doesn’t appear in the current iPhone lineup (which features 16GB, 64GB, and 128GB configurations).
5. Apple patents hint at a more water-resistant iPhone, and noise-cancelling EarPods
Mikey Campbell reports for Apple Insider that Apple has been granted patents for water-resistant iPhone speakers and bone conduction technology that could lead to EarPods with advanced noise cancellation. Apple’s intentions for these inventions are unknown, and it’s unclear whether the company plans to incorporate the detailed technology into shipping products.
Campbell reports that the first patent, for a “Liquid resistant acoustic devices,” details a protected audio port similar to a water-resistant component that was first introduced with the Apple Watch. The invention calls for a mesh “umbrella” to be placed between an acoustic port like a speaker and the aperture in a device housing. When liquid passes through the housing apertures, it makes contact with the umbrella and is directed away. A hydrophobic coating could be applied to the outer umbrella and a hydrophilic coating to the inner surface to help draw liquid out in the vent that the barrier is breached.
The second patent that Apple was awarded, for a “System and method of mixing accelerometer and microphone signals to improve voice quality in a mobile device,” describes a headset that uses bone conduction technology to filter out noise. The device would be outfitted with accelerometers that could detect vocal chord vibrations. With the help of an onboard microphone, the system would measure output signal and distinguish speech from ambient vibrations. Along with the activity detector, the device would also be equipped with a microphone array to monitor acoustic signals for the user’s voice. Output data from both systems are compared, contrasted, and run through noise cancellation processing.