6 Apple Rumors: From MacBook Pros to Amazon Echo Rival

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, this year’s new Macs, and other future Apple products made their rounds online. Read on to catch up on the week’s most exciting Apple rumors.

1. The redesigned MacBook Pro may launch in October

13-inch MacBook Pro is dispalyed after it was unveiled during an Apple special event

13-inch MacBook Pro is dispalyed after it was unveiled during an Apple special event | Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

MacRumors reports that Apple is aiming for an October launch for its redesigned MacBook Pro, which is expected to feature an OLED touch bar above the keyboard. Eric Slivka writes that Apple is “moving rapidly toward a launch of the new MacBook Pro models.” Its current work on macOS 10.12.1 are reportedly focused on preparing the operating system to support the new MacBook Pro’s updated hardware, which are rumored to include Touch ID support and an OLED “touch bar” to replace the current row of function keys at the top of the keyboard. Apple is also rumored to switching its higher-end 15-inch models from AMD to Polaris graphics chips.

In addition to new MacBook Pro models, Apple is also reportedly planning to launch updated MacBook Air models with USB-C ports, and new iMacs with AMD graphics chip before the end of the year. But Slivka notes that it’s unclear whether all three Mac lines will be updated simultaneously, and whether Apple will hold an event to unveil the hardware or simply introduce the new devices via press release. The company is also rumored to be working with LG on a new external 5K display, which would replaced the discontinued Thunderbolt display. But a timeline for that launch, as well as any updates for the outdated MacPro and Mac mini, are also unclear.

2. Apple seems to be moving ahead with an Amazon Echo rival

A woman in the new Brooklyn Apple Store

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

Bloomberg reports that Apple is “stepping up plans” for an Echo-like device powered by Siri. Mark Gurman and Ian King report that “the project has exited the research and development lab and is now in prototype testing.” Like Amazon’s Echo, the device is expected to control smart home appliances and gadgets via voice commands. It would also likely be able to process many of the Siri commands that users currently direct at the iPhone. However, Bloomberg’s sources note that Apple hasn’t finalized its plans for the device, and it’s possible that it could still scrap the project.

However, Gurman and King note that if Apple does go to market with an Amazon Echo rival, the device would be Cupertino’s “most significant piece of new hardware since the company announced the Apple Watch in 2014.” Apple will reportedly try to differentiate its device from Amazon Echo and Google Home with more advanced microphone and speaker technology. Some prototypes being tested are reportedly equipped with facial recognition sensors, and technology acquired with Faceshift and Emotient could enable the device to act based on who is in a room, or the user’s emotional state.

3. Apple will reportedly expand HealthKit from a tracking platform to a diagnostic tool

Customers shop at the new Apple Store at the 350,000 square-foot World Trade Center

Customers shop at the Apple Store | Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Bloomberg reports that Apple has big changes in the works for HealthKit. Alex Webb reports that Apple’s goal is for HealthKit not only to collect fitness data, but to “interpret that information, turning it into advice for users, doctors and others.” Health care experts are helping Apple to build “improved electronic health record software that can better analyze and understand the implications of patient data.” And new apps for the Apple Watch are reportedly in the works. Apple is developing an app that helps users track sleep patterns. It’s also working on an app that gauges fitness levels by measuring the time it takes for the heart rate to fall from its peak to its resting level.

The goal is to turn HealthKit into a tool that improves diagnoses. The software could make it easy for physicians to “extrapolate salient information from mountains of data.” And it could also enable that data to be easily transferred from hospital to hospital across different databases. Apple recently acquired Gliimpse, a startup that developed software to store electronic health records from different databases and in different formats, all in one place. It’s currently unclear how soon Apple plans to introduce improvements for HealthKit.

4. New Macs may get impressive graphics upgrades

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - MARCH 9: Apple CEO Tim Cook announces the new MacBook during an Apple special event at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts on March 9, 2015 in San Francisco, California. Apple Inc. is expected to unveil more details on the much anticipated Apple Watch, the tech giant's entry into the rapidly growing wearable technology segment.

Apple CEO Tim Cook | Stephen Lam/Getty Images

Apple Insider reports that Nvidia seems to be working with Apple on graphics for “revolutionary” new Macs. Neil Hughes points out that Apple’s currently Mac lineup relies on AMD graphics. But it looks like a switch to Nvidia could be in the works for the MacBook Pro. A series of job postings by Nvidia seek software engineers for the company’s Mac graphics drivers team, and applicants are expected to have experience with Apple’s Metal cross-platform API. The postings claim that hires will “help produce the next revolutionary Apple products.”

Hughes notes that Nvidia is hiring now, and new Macs “are likely only a matter of weeks away.” That makes it seem likely that a switch to Nvidia is months, if not years, down the road. Nonetheless, the listings seem to imply that Nvidia and Apple are working together behind the scenes.

5. Apple may be secretly developing the iPhone 8 in Israel

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - SEPTEMBER 07: Apple CEO Tim Cook waves goodbye during a launch event on September 7, 2016 in San Francisco, California. Apple Inc. unveiled the latest iterations of its smart phone, the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus, the Apple Watch Series 2, as well as AirPods, the tech giant's first wireless headphones.

Apple CEO Tim Cook | Stephen Lam/Getty Images

Cult of Mac reports that Apple may be developing the hardware for next year’s iPhone in Israel. Luke Dormehl writes that a “somewhat dubious report” on the topic cites a source in Apple’s office in Herzliya, Israel. The report claims that next iPhone is being developed in Israel. It also claims that the device is being referred to internally as the iPhone 8. There are about 800 employees in Apple’s Herzliya office, which has existed for about four years.

The office was set up after Apple acquired flash memory designer Anobit in 2012 and 3D sensor developer PrimeSense in 2013. Since the establishment of the office, Apple has also acquired Israeli camera firm LinX. Apple reportedly uses the facility to develop hardware including chips, storage, cameras, and wireless technologies. In the past, Tim Cook has stated that Apple’s Herzliya office is Apple’s second-largest R&D facility globally.

6. Future Macs may be controlled by gazes or gestures

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - MAY 19: Apple Store employees look at a display of MacBook laptops during a press preview of the new flagship Apple Store on May 19, 2016 in San Francisco, California. Apple is preparing to open its newest flagship store in San Francisco's Union Square on Saturday May 21. The new store features new design elements as well as community programs including the "genius grove" where where customers can get support under a canopy of local trees and "the plaza" a public space that will be open 24 hour a day. Visitors will enter the store through 42-foot tall sliding glass doors.

Apple Store employees | Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Cult of Mac reports that new Apple patents indicate that you may be able to control your future Mac with gazes or gestures. Luke Dormehl writes that a newly-published patent describes Apple’s explorations of laser-mapping technology. The invention would enable future Apple devices, like Macs, to be controlled with gaze tracking or point gestures. The technology described in the patent builds on the sort of 3D depth-mapping technology used in the new dual-lens iPhone 7. The technology would give users new ways to interface with the iMac or possibly the Apple TV using in-air gestures or eye-tracking to navigate on-screen content and menus.