4 Recent Apple Rumors to Wrap Up 2014

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While the Apple rumor mill may have slowed down a bit for the holidays, there were still plenty of stories that emerged over the past week. From supply chain rumors about unreleased products to the most recent gossip on the upcoming Steve Jobs biopic, here is the latest batch of Apple-related rumors and speculation currently making the rounds on the Internet.

1. New 12-inch MacBook Air on the way

According to the usual unnamed supply chain sources cited by DigiTimes, a rumored 12-inch MacBook Air model is expected to enter mass production sometime in the first quarter of 2015. The 12-inch MacBook Air is supposedly being manufactured by Quanta, the same company that is rumored to be working on the Apple Watch. Both products will reportedly enter production around the same time.

While Apple currently offers the MacBook Air in 11-inch and 13-inch screen sizes, it’s not clear if the new model would replace one of the existing models or simply provide a third option for customers. However, DigiTimes’ sources noted that the 12-inch MacBook Air would be aimed at the high-end segment of the market.

“Apple’s new MacBook Air features Intel’s Broadwell processors and a new chassis design to reduce the device’s overall thickness and weight, but the start of mass production has been hampered by low yield rates,” according to DigiTimes’ sources. “As the yield issue is gradually being resolved, mass production is expected to come in the first quarter of 2015.”

Rumors of a redesigned MacBook Air model first emerged last year, when KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo predicted that Apple would release an “ultra-slim clamshell form factor” 12-inch MacBook Air, reports AppleInsider. In March 2014, an anonymous leaker cited by MacRumors claimed the ultra-slim design of the device would be made possible due to the lack of a cooling fan assembly.

The leaker also said the 12-inch MacBook Air would feature a new type of buttonless trackpad. Finally, well-connected Apple blogger Jack March said in September 2014 that the 12-inch MacBook Air would arrive in mid-2015 and be offered in the same grey, gold, and silver colors that are used for the iPhone lineup.

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2. Apple may launch 4-inch “iPhone 6S mini” in 2015

Apple’s MacBook Air may not be the only product being released in a smaller size in 2015. In a note to investors obtained by AppleInsider, Cowen and Co. analyst Timothy Arcuri predicted that Apple might release a new 4-inch “iPhone 6s mini” model in order to provide a new option for customers who prefer the smaller smartphone screen size.

Arcuri’s prediction aligns with supply chain rumors reported by GforGames earlier this month that claimed the new model would be aimed at “female users” who may find it difficult to operate the iPhone 6 or the iPhone 6 Plus with one hand.

Apple has always stressed the importance of being able to operate its smartphones with one hand and even included a special “Reachability” feature in iOS 8 that helps iPhone users more easily interact with displayed content. While the 4-inch iPhone 5S and iPhone 5C models are still available for customers who prefer a smaller smartphone, those older models will presumably become less appealing as newer hardware hits the market.

Despite years of touting the advantages of having a smaller smartphone screen size, Apple recently boosted the screen sizes used for its latest iPhone models to 4.7 inches and 5.5 inches. Although the record launch weekend sales of more than 10 million units suggest that many consumers were ready for a larger-size iPhone, others have expressed reservations about the bigger models.

According to Arcuri, the 4-inch iPhone 6S mini will feature a curved screen edge design similar to the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. He also believes that the smaller iPhone model may use “purpose-built low cost components,” reports AppleInsider. Assuming this rumor is true, the iPhone 6S mini may be marketed as a slightly more advanced version of the the iPhone 5C.

Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images

3. Sony sought White House’s help to show The Interview through Apple’s iTunes

The Interview, a comedy film about the assassination of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, had its theatrical release canceled by Sony Pictures this month due to concerns over threats of terrorist attacks on theaters that showed the movie. However, after President Barack Obama said Sony “made a mistake” and that he wished “they had spoken to me first,” the company decided to release the film in time for Christmas Day through various on-demand platforms, including Google Play, YouTube, and Xbox Live. The film was also shown in a limited number of independent theaters.

According to unnamed sources cited by The New York Times, Sony also apparently took Obama’s advice and asked for the government’s help in securing a deal to distribute the film through Apple’s iTunes. However, despite the appeal by the White House, Apple declined to release The Interview on Christmas Day due to the “speedy time table,” reports The New York Times.

Apple later reversed course and began offering the film through iTunes on December 28, reports Reuters. “We’re pleased to offer ‘The Interview’ for rental or purchase on the iTunes Store,” said Apple spokesman Tom Neumayr in a statement provided to Reuters. The film is available to rent for $5.99 or can be purchased for $14.99.

While Apple was ultimately able to make the film available to its users, it’s debatable whether the company would have been missing much. The Interview has received a groundswell of public support from Americans who are concerned about censorship, but the film has been widely panned by critics. The Interview currently has a 52% approval rating from the critics at Rotten Tomatoes, who noted that the film only offers “middling laughs.”

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

4. Shooting preparations for Steve Jobs biopic underway

Although Apple may have declined to stream The Interview, chances are it will pick up the highly anticipated biopic about Apple co-founder Steve Jobs. According to leaked Sony emails seen by The Verge, the Aaron Sorkin-penned script for the film has been highly praised by people who have read it. While it remains to be seen if director Danny Boyle can turn Sorkin’s script into an equally impressive film, it appears that shooting preparations are already underway.

Variety reports that Universal recently sent out a casting call for male and female extras who have a vintage tech nerd look from the 1980s and 1990s. The shooting preparations are good news for a production that had a rocky start as a Sony Pictures project before being sold to Universal.

While various stars such as Christian Bale, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Natalie Portman were rumored to have been offered roles, the latest report from Variety stated that Michael Fassbender will play the title role, Seth Rogen will play Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, and Katherine Waterston will play Jobs’s first wife. Per Variety, Kate Winslet is also currently in negotiations for an unspecified lead role in the film.

That’s all for last week’s Apple rumors! Be sure to check back regularly with the Tech Cheat Sheet to get all the latest Apple news.

Follow Nathanael on Twitter @ArnoldEtan_WSCS

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