Rumour Mill

Macworld Australia Staff
21 February, 2014
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Happy Friday Folks! Last week’s Rumour Mill was brought to you by that glorious grande dame of glamour, Dolly Parton, who was in town thrilling the hordes with renditions of ‘Joelene’ ‘Islands in the Stream’ and ’9 to 5′ – those classic hits that everybody knows .

But what a lot of people don’t know is that when she’s finished with those towering wigs she wears so well (sorry, spoiler alert, Dolly Parton’s hair is not her own), she passes them on to another high priestess of pizzazz, who promptly dyes them purple and gives them a whole new lease of life. Yes, Dolly’s dainty doilies become Dame Edna Evarage’s extraordinary egg(head) cosies…

And, coincidentally, this week marks the 80th birthday of the manager of said mother and megastar (or should that now be gran and gigastar?). The one and only Barry Humphries reached that notable milestone on 17 February, as did several other characters in the Humphries talent stable, Sir Les Patterson, Lance Boyle and Sandy Stone (actually the latter has been well over 80 since Adam was a lad…)*

So, in honour of the great man’s birthday, the Rumour Mill this week is brought to you by John Barry Humphries AO, CBE.

“I love that fabric, you were lucky to find so much of it”

First up today, it’s been a while since we’ve had a nice juicy MacBook Air rumour to salivate over. But here’s an intriguing one. MacDailyNews is spreading the story that Apple is currently prepping an A8-powered MacBook Air for a release this year.

Yes, you read that correctly. A8. Forget the tired old A7 chip. The world and his dog may have been whooping in excitement when that whizzy little processor debuted in the iPhone 5s and iPad Air last year, but that was merely the latest in a long line, apparently. There are plenty more A-series chips ready to stun us, and Mark Reschke, writing for T-GAAP, opines that the next one will be revealed to the world shortly.

“Apple heaping praise on its own A7 was not just an iPad Air promotion, it was Apple tipping their hat to the future plans of their Mac lineup,” Reschke writes. “A next generation, all-new, MacBook Air is the most logical starting point for Apple to launch an A8 Mac… Apple’s ARM processors allow for easy heat dissipation, which delivers the MacBook Air a razor thin base, feeling as if it’s not much more than a keyboard with a bit of battery weight. The new A8 MacBook Air will simply be an amazingly thin and lightweight Mac, with battery life no one in the industry will be able to reach.”

“I was born… with a precious gift… the ability to laugh at the misfortunes of others”

Oh say it isn’t so! Here’s a dispiriting story from TUAW.com‘s John-Michael Bond, who writes this week that Apple was party to a deal with other tech companies in Silicon Valley, that saw them conspiring to keep employee salaries low across the board, so they could all rake it in. The website reports that the claims were first made by PandoDaily last month and now make up the core of a class action that is heading to court this May.

“The secret wage-theft agreements between Apple, Google, Intel, Adobe, Intuit and Pixar (now owned by Disney) are described in court papers obtained by PandoDaily as “an overarching conspiracy” in violation of the Sherman Antitrust Act and the Clayton Antitrust Act,” wrote Mark Ames in PandoDaily.

Adding fuel to the fire is a story this week by Josh Harkinson at Mother Jones magazine that names names. Steve Jobs, Google’s Eric Schmidt and Apple board member and senior Google adviser, Bill Campbell are cited as meeting covertly behind closed doors, smoking big fat cigars (probably), gleefully rubbing their hands and working “to artificially keep wages low using a wide range of dirty, and possibly illegal, tricks”.

So much for Silicon Valley being “an example of how the free market can set people free” (TUAW.com).

It’s all a bit depressing really, isn’t it?

“I’m better than Judi Dench, much much better and I’m afraid taller!”

Let’s get to something a little less disheartening. Technology Tell reckons there’s an imminent software release on the horizon. And it’s iOS 7.1. The website is even so bold as to give us a date and a feature. We hope they’re not superstitious though, because the date they’ve picked didn’t turn out so well for Julius Caesar.

Yes, the ides of March, Saturday 15, is when we can expect to see the update of Apple’s mobile operating system. And AppleInsider is among those outlets pointing to better Mobile Device Management (MDM) as being the standout feature.

iOS Volume Services

“MDM improvements would allow Apple to give educational, governmental and corporate entities the opportunity to configure settings for hundreds of iOS devices at once. This would greatly simplify the downloading of apps that are expected to run on all devices, and configuration of general settings on all of the devices,” writes Kaled Ali in Technology Tell.

Five betas of the updated version of iOS 7.1 have already been released to developers and so it seems likely that it is now ready to launch.

Technology Tell also mentions that rumoured Apple TV deal, that is now under a question mark after Comcast did finalise its acquisition of Time Warner, as we indicated might happen in last week’s Rumour Mill. There goes Apple TV, stabbed in the back…

Et tu Brute…

“The best jokes are often only understood by one other person”

A new element to the positive plethora of patter swirling about the cybersphere regarding the ‘iWatch’ is this from AppleInsider, which posits the idea that Apple has shored up its cosy relationship with iPhone and iPad module supplier TPK, asking it to provide some silver nanowire-based touch technology.

“Created from a mesh of silver wires approximately one nanometre in diameter, silver nanowire-based touch films boast several advantages over current indium tin oxide designs. The material is exceptionally clear, and its conductivity means that the displays do not need additional sensors to determine touch location,” explains AppleInsider, helpfully.

We’re sure that’s really important and intricate, but we have no idea what it all actually means. Maybe we need a graphic to elucidate. Can you help, AppleInsider?

Silver nanowire

Ooooookay. Still no wiser. Best left to the experts perhaps?

“I’m trying to think of a word to describe your outfit… affordable”

We’re enjoying this one. iClarified (another site making its debut in the Rumour Mill – make her welcome everyone!) has joined sites like 9to5Mac on picking up on a report in Taiwan’s Economic Daily News (translation at Mac Otakara), which reckons that Apple is due to release two new smartphones – a 4.7in version and a 5.6in version – but, and here’s the fun part, the latter will not be an iPhone. What on earth will it be then? A Why-phone?

Over to you iClarified. “The 5.6in smartphone is said to feature a sapphire glass display made by GT Advanced… however, the device is described as ‘experimental’ and allegedly it will not feature ‘iPhone’ branding… While the report does appear very unlikely, perhaps Apple feels that a 5.6in device is too large to be classified as an ‘iPhone’. The site says the new devices are expected in the third quarter of 2014.”

And that’s it for the Rumour Mill for the week ending 21 February 2014. And if you take nothing else away from it this week, remember this. ”Never be afraid to laugh at yourself, after all, you could be missing out on the joke of the century.” Indeed.

* but not Dame Edna herself of course. We all know she is simply timeless.

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