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 8, future iPhone components, and other future Apple products made their rounds online. Read on to catch up on the week’s most exciting Apple rumors.
1. Apple could introduce three models of the iPhone 8
AppleInsider reports that according to a research note from KGI, the premium OLED-equipped iPhone model that Apple is expected to introduce in 2017 could feature a screen that’s sized somewhere between the current iPhone and iPhone Plus. Ming-Chi Kuo posits that Apple’s OLED iPhone 8 will include iPhone models with traditional LCD panels sized at 4.7 and 5.5 inches, along with a premium OLED iPhone that will feature a screen size of either 5.1 or 5.2 inches.
Kuo expects that the OLED iPhone will bring “significant changes in form factor.” He also expects that that model will feature specifications “considerably better” than those of the LCD models. That means that even though it will have a smaller screen than the 5.5-inch iPhone Plus model, the OLED version would be the most high-end model. Kuo expects that Apple will also make form factor modifications for the 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch models, and he thinks that the primary change will be a switch to a glass casing instead of metal.
2. Apple may be thinking about manufacturing iPhones in the United States
AppleInsider reports that Apple’s iPhone manufacturing partners have been tasked with the viability of shifting production to the U.S. Mike Wuerthele reports that according to the Nikkei Asian Review, Apple asked both Foxconn and Pegatron to look into making iPhones in the states. Foxconn reportedly complied, while Pegatron declined to formulate a plan “due to cost concerns.” Terry Gou, Foxconn chief executive, reportedly said that labor and other associated costs would more than double. And Pegatron said that the shift would be impossible due to increased costs.
Wuerthele notes that the study was likely prompted by potential political pressure and taxation promised by President Elect Donald Trump, who promised a 35% tariff levied against products like the iPhone. However, Apple chief executive Tim Cook said in a December 2015 interview that “even if Trump imposes a 45% tariff, it is still possible that manufacturers will decide to continue production overseas as long as the costs together with the tariffs are lower than the amount they need to spend on building and running production lines in the U.S.”
3. Most of Apple’s iPhone 8 line could get optical image stabilization
AppleInsider reports that a recent analyst note predicts that the iPhone will feature optical image stabilization in both camera lenses across most of the line in 2017, and that about 85% of the line will feature a dual-lens camera similar to that in the iPhone 7 Plus by 2018. Mike Wuerthele reports that the note, published by KGI, expects that Apple will add optical image stabilization to both lenses in the 2017 iPhone.
KGI reiterated its belief that there will be three models of the iPhone for 2017: a 4.7inch model with a TFT-LCD display, a 5.5-inch model with a TFT-LCD display, and an OLED version of unspecified size. The 5.5-inch model and the OLED model are expected to have dual-lens cameras with universal optical image stabilization.
Wuerthele notes that Apple “has developed a solid foundation for iPhone photography in the camera shared between the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus.” The camera features a six-element lens and a high-speed 12MP sensor that’s 60% faster and 30% more energy efficient than that of previous iPhone cameras. The iPhone 7 Plus adds a telephoto lens and a dedicated sensor. The telephoto lens, however, doesn’t feature optical image stabilization.
4. The iPhone’s Camera app could get augmented reality capabilities
Business Insider reports that Apple is planning to integrate augmented reality capabilities into the iPhone’s Camera app. Kif Leswing writes that the effort involves teams from several acquired startups. It reportedly reflects Apple’s “near-term desire to put augmented reality technology into consumers’ hands even as it develops special glasses that could eventually change the way people perceive their surroundings.” (More on those glasses on the next page.)
By adding augmented reality technology to the iPhone’s camera software, Apple wants to enable consumers to point the phone at a real-world object “and have it be recognized.” That would require creating (or licensing) a database of 3D objects. Another feature could be to recognize and manipulate people’s faces, a functionality that could be enabled by facial recognition technology Apple gained with its acquisition of FaceShift.
5. Apple could introduce digital glasses as soon as 2018
Bloomberg reports that Apple is considering introducing a pair of digital glasses, perhaps as soon as 2018. Mark Gurman, Alex Webb, and Ian King write that the device would show images and other information in the wearer’s field of vision, and could integrate augmented reality functionality. Apple has reportedly talked about its digital glasses project with potential suppliers.
The company has even ordered small quantities of near-eye displays from one supplier for testing. However, sources added that Apple hasn’t ordered enough components to indicate imminent mass production. Bloomberg notes that if Apple decides to proceed with the device, it would likely be introduced in 2018 at the earliest. However, the publication noted that the company “tests many different products and is known to pivot, pause, or cancel projects without disclosing them.”
6. Apple could integrate Siri into Messages
Mikey Campbell reports for AppleInsider that according to a recent patent application, Apple is investigating the possibility of integrating Siri into Messages. The filing indicates that Siri would be able to decipher incoming requests and complete tasks like scheduling appointments, providing navigation directions, retrieving movie times, and making peer-to-peer payments. Campbell notes that in some embodiments, “the implementation is similar to Google’s incorporation of Google Assistant in the recently released Allo app.” In particular, the filing reveals that users in conversations of two or more people would be able to instantly access Siri by directing a message to the assistant.
The AI module would use semantic analysis to figure out that a user is invoking Siri and not talking to another user. It would figure out which task should be carried out. Though the detected messages wouldn’t be displayed in the public chat feed, Siri would be able to tap into data from other iMessage participants to complete the task at hand. For instance, a user could ask for help scheduling a meeting with other members of a thread. Siri would detect the message, classify it as a task, cross-reference open calendar dates for chat participants, and then suggest an appropriate day and time.
7. A future EarPods model could get gesture controls and biometric tracking abilities
9to5Mac reports that a recently published patent describes “what seems a logical next step for a company increasingly focused on health and fitness: a sports earphone.” The patent describes two types of functionality: one geared toward gathering biometric data for fitness tracking, and the other enabling gesture-based control of a paired iPhone.
Ben Lovejoy notes that “as is usual with patents, the language is broad enough to cover all the bases, describing everything from built-in headphone sensors to a separate monitoring system that can be attached to headphones while exercising and removed afterwards, but an integrated unit would seem the more Apple-like approach.” The headphones could be wired or wireless. The patent explains how head gestures could be used to control functionality like music controls. The same gestures could be used with other applications.
8. Apple is investigating how iPhones can be used to monitor Parkinson’s patients
Christina Farr reports for Fast Company that Apple is researching ways that iPhones can be used to monitor real-time data on the wellbeing of patients with Parkinson’s. Three sources tell the publication that Apple is conducting research into whether the iPhone and the Apple Watch can be used to passively monitor data on such patients. The company is hoping to “build an evidence base to demonstrate the effectiveness of mobile monitoring.” The effort is reportedly being overseen by Stephen Friend, who joined Apple from Sage Bionetworks, a nonprofit that provides tools for biomedical research.
Sage has been a partner for some of Apple’s ResearchKit, HealthKit, and CareKit applications. It developed an app with the University of Rochester to gather real-time data from Parkinson’s patients and to understand how the disease impacts patients’ daily life. The iPhone or Apple Watch could be used to monitor tremors, slowness, stiffness, and balance. Monitoring the severity of patients’ tremors and their walking speed could provide “an important window into their condition between visits” with their doctors.