Once again, it’s time to sift through the latest batch of Apple-related rumors. As usual, the majority of these stories are based on information from mysterious “insider sources” cited by various media outlets, as well as leaks from the Cupertino-based company’s own overseas supply chain. This week’s rumors cover everything from the launch date of the long-awaited 12-inch MacBook Air, to a never-before-seen feature that may show up in the next-generation iPhone. Here are five major Apple rumors that have been making the rounds this week.
Apple’s iPhone 6S may include dual-lens camera, Force Touch feature, and more RAM
While the launch of Apple’s next-generation iPhone models is most likely still eight months away, multiple rumors about the so-called “iPhone 6S” have already emerged from the company’s overseas supply chain. The first rumors came courtesy of the Taiwan-based United Daily News (UDN). According to UDN’s supply chain sources, Apple’s iPhone 6S will feature a new dual-lens camera design that will offer an optical zoom function and will improve overall image quality by increasing the amount of light that reaches the image sensor. This rumor appears to be similar to a dual-lens camera rumor reported by Daring Fireball blogger John Gruber last November. According to Gruber, the rumored dual-lens camera module would allow the next-generation iPhone to take “DSLR quality” images.
UDN’s supply chain sources also predicted that the iPhone 6S would incorporate the “3D pressure sensor” technology used in the Apple Watch that enables the device’s Force Touch input feature. As stated by Apple, “Force Touch uses tiny electrodes around the flexible Retina display to distinguish between a light tap and a deep press.”
However, while the Force Touch feature on the Apple Watch simply provides another input method, UDN’s sources believe that the pressure sensors used in the upcoming iPhone model will enable the device to read a user’s pulse and blood pressure. Finally, UDN’s supply chain sources also predicted that Apple would boost the storage capacity of the entry-level iPhone from 16GB to 32GB.
Similar rumors about a dual-lens camera system and the implementation of Force Touch technology in the upcoming iPhone were also reported by the Taiwan-based TechNews. However, TechNews’ sources also claimed that the next-generation iPhone would feature 2GB of RAM. According to researchers at repair firm iFixit, the iPhone 6 and the iPhone 6 Plus each have only 1GB of RAM.
Siri may soon understand several new languages
Siri — Apple’s voice-activated personal digital assistant — may soon be getting a major language upgrade. According to Czech language blog LetemSvetemApplem.eu, a series of iOS 8.1.2 text strings uncovered by Apple researcher Martin Srnec showed that the California-based company is working on implementing new languages for Siri to understand, including “Czech, Slovak, Polish and many other languages.” The LetemSvetemApplem.eu blog post was first highlighted by 9to5Mac.
Siri already offers support for nine different languages, including English, Spanish, French, German, Japanese, Mandarin, Cantonese, Italian, and Korean. Siri also offers support for multiple dialects of certain languages. For example, Siri speaks and understands four different versions of English that have been optimized for users in the United States, the U.K., Australia, and Canada. As noted by 9to5Mac, Apple’s Enhanced Dictation feature for iOS and OS X already includes support for Czech, Slovak, Polish, Arabic, Croatian, Finnish, Hebrew, Portuguese, Russian, and many more.
However, the text strings in iOS 8.1.2 suggest that support for at least three of these languages may soon be added to Siri. Although Apple has yet to officially confirm any language upgrades for iOS 8 this year, it’s quite possible that Czech, Slovak, and Polish speakers could start conversing with Siri in their native tongues before the end of 2015.
Apple’s rumored 12-inch MacBook Air may debut sooner than originally expected
While rumors of an upcoming 12-inch MacBook Air are nothing new, the latest information from Apple’s supply chain suggests that this device may become available sooner than expected. Last week, insider sources cited by 9to5Mac claimed that some Apple employees were already testing a prototype version of a 12-inch MacBook Air that features a trackpad without a “clicking effect,” a fan-less interior, a Retina display, and a tapered casing that is about a quarter inch thinner than the current 11-inch MacBook Air model. The thinner profile of the 12-inch MacBook Air was achieved by eliminating the standard USB ports, SD card slot, and Apple’s proprietary MagSafe connector. Per 9to5Mac’s sources, Apple will instead utilize a USB Type-C port that will handle both connectivity and charging functions.
Many of the previously circulated rumors about the new 12-inch MacBook Air pointed to a release date in mid-2015. However, according to Taiwan-based supply chain sources cited by DigiTimes earlier this week, Quanta Computer – the same company that is supposedly manufacturing the Apple Watch – has already started production on the new 12-inch MacBook Air and is recruiting more workers to increase volume. As noted by DigiTimes’ sources, this suggests that the 12-inch MacBook Air will likely make its debut in the first quarter of 2015, several months earlier than previously expected.
Besides offering a new launch date prediction, DigiTimes’ sources also claimed that the new 12-inch MacBook Air would replace Apple’s 11-inch model. On the other hand, the 13-inch MacBook Air model would continue to be offered.
Sapphire iPhone rumors briefly revived
Last year, one of the biggest rumors to circulate about the latest iPhone models was that Apple was planning on utilizing sapphire-covered screens for the devices. However, those rumors were ultimately proven untrue on September 9, when Apple revealed that the new iPhone models featured “ion-strengthened” glass, rather than sapphire. In the aftermath of that announcement, sapphire manufacturer and Apple partner GT Advanced Technologies declared bankruptcy and it appeared that the Cupertino-based company had abandoned its efforts to use this “unbreakable” material for its iPhones.
However, earlier this week, those rumors were briefly revived when Chinese Apple supplier Desay unveiled its own 5-inch sapphire-covered phone called the Magical Mirror X5, reports The Wall Street Journal. Although there are no indications that Apple is reinvestigating the use of sapphire for its iPhones, the announcement sparked speculation because the company’s Shenzhen Desay Battery Technology division is named on Apple’s supplier list.
Besides being costlier than Corning’s Gorilla Glass, sapphire is also notoriously more difficult to produce on a large scale. GT Advanced Technologies produced many defective sapphire boules when it was working with Apple, as documented by WSJ. For this reason, analysts cited by WSJ believe that Desay’s $160 Magical Mirror X5 phone is likely just a short-term and unsustainable gimmick that the company is using in order to promote its recent entry into the smartphone market. Unfortunately for fans of sapphire-covered iPhones, this also means it is unlikely that Apple will be unveiling a similar device anytime soon.
Apple may introduce Macs featuring A-series processors
A new report from KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo suggests that major changes may soon be coming to the company’s Mac product line, reports 9to5Mac. Although Apple designs its own custom A-series processors for use in its mobile devices, the company still relies on chipmaker Intel for the processors that power its laptops and desktop computers.
However, Kuo believes that the improving performance of Apple’s A-series chips may soon allow the company to debut an ARM-powered Mac. “Apple may launch Mac products that use own AP [Application Processor] in next 1-2 years,” wrote Kuo, according to 9to5Mac. “This prediction is based on the assumption that Apple’s self-developed AP performs at a level between Intel’s Atom and Core i3 and is good enough for Mac. Using self developed AP can help Apple better control the timing of Mac launches and Mac product features.”
As noted by 9to5Mac, Apple would likely start the transition to ARM-based processors by introducing an A-series chip into a lower-end Mac — such as a future model of the MacBook Air — before implementing the chips in other devices. Besides predicting an ARM-powered Mac, Kuo also forecast increased diversification in Apple’s chip supply chain over the next several years, including the use of new supplier Global Foundry. While it remains to be seen if Kuo’s latest predictions come true, it should be noted that the analyst has made accurate predictions about some aspects of Apple’s other products, including the introduction of a gold-colored iPhone 5S in 2013.
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