The Rumour Mill

Macworld Australia Staff
21 March, 2014
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Good morning Rumour Relishers. Here at Macworld Australia, our cups positively runneth over with rumours these days, so you may have noticed we’ve started bringing you even more regular round-ups of the latest gossip on each (so far mythical) future product in Apple’s line-up (like this one). But, never fear, the Rumour Mill will still be here on a Friday morning to let you know the very latest crazy flights of fantasy drops of wisdom.

And as this year the world will celebrate the 75th anniversary of one of the most glorious family movies of all time, this week the Rumour Mill is brought to you courtesy of Dorothy and friends. Yes, the wonderful Wizard of Oz. But a quick caveat, before you start humming your way through any of the wonderful melodies composed by Harold Arlen and Yip Harburg, just check there’s no one around that may find your musicality insensitive. Or you may find yourself in an unfortunate situation like this one

Right, now that’s out of the way, what’s had the iOSphere all of a twitter this week?

 

My! People come and go so quickly here

First, it’s goodbye to a product that we never actually said hello to. MacRumors spread the sad news that the iPad Pro has been ditched. No, not the iPad 2 – that’s an actual product that really existed and has this week genuinely been sent to that great tablet pasture in the sky by Apple. We’re talking instead about the larger sized tablet, expected to measure around the 12.9in mark, dubbed the iPad Pro by ‘those in the know’ and earmarked for release for a possible launch date early next year.

Now, shock horror, the tablet that had never been mentioned, let alone officially confirmed by Apple, has now apparently been shelved, according to a report from Digitimes.

“Most of the large-size tablet projects face difficulties because of lack of support from related platform developers and ecosystems. Apple has also been said to [have] shelved its large-size tablet project,” writes Digitimes, dabbing away a tear.

Don’t know about you, but we’re gutted. Such a brief acquaintance. Such a candle in the wind…

 

Goodbye iPad Pro, though we never knew you at all...

 

That’s the trouble, I can’t make up my mind. I haven’t got a brain…

Among the veritable torrent of contradictory rumours about the next iteration of Apple’s smartphone (many of which you could trawl through here) comes this from Paul Briden, writing for Know Your Mobile (‘Nice to meet you Phone, how’s it hangin’?). Actually, he’s talking about tablets. Or is it smartphones? Or is it smartphones and tablets? Oh never mind.

Briden asserts that the laws have changed over in Europe, and that means that from now on tablets will be required to use microUSB chargers. This idea has been mooted before, last September in fact when members of the European Parliament’s internal market committee on Thursday voted unanimously for a new law mandating a universal mobile phone charger. But that legislation didn’t cover tablets. Now it does.

According to a report from ALDE Group, EU member states have a couple of years to comply. As Briden says, “Apple has still stuck to its proprietary Lightning connector, although to comply with EU law has supplied EU iPhones with USB adaptors. You can probably expect this practice to extend to the iPad Air and iPad mini now too.”

Meanwhile, in iPhone 6 rumour land, good old John Cox at Network World has a few more meaty morsels to set you masticating – including this from ZDNet‘s Larry Dignan, who reckons the iPhone 6 will have a 5in screen and this “will lead to a big replacement cycle that may poach customers of Samsung.”

MacRumors goes further. It references analyst Brian Marshall of the ISI Group, who released a note to investors reiterating suggestions that Apple will release two new smartphones this year, a 4.7in and a 5.5in one. Marshall’s conclusions regarding this echo Dignan’s. Such phones “could spark a massive upgrade cycle”.

“‘Large-screen envy’ is prevalent among the iPhone installed base and we believe a ~5in form-factor iPhone would spark a massive upgrade cycle as well as many ‘Android switchers’ returning back to the iPhone (we refer to this as the ‘mother lode’ of all Apple upgrade cycles),” writes Marshall.

Yep, a fraction of an inch will be enough to entice the hordes to toss away their old Galaxies, Omnias and Waves like yesterday’s newspapers and descend on Apple stores in their millions. Stand back, or get mown down in the rush. Don’t say you weren’t warned.

 

iphone6-sizes

For the size queens. (Image: MacRumors)

That’s the horse of a different colour!

And before we leave the future of the iPhone for this week, there’s also this little snippet suggested by MacRumors following an announcement from Imagination Technologies (IT). Now, it’s a bit detailed, this one, and probably for the technically minded, so the rest of you pay attention. IT has released a new version of its PowerVR graphics architecture. And it includes ray-tracing capabilities. This is not a Mr Charles tracking device, apparently.

We’ll let IT explain. “For the better part of the last eight years, we have been busy developing unique hardware and software technologies to radically lower the cost and dramatically increase the efficiency and performance of ray tracing.

“This work culminates at GDC 2014 with the official launch of the PowerVR Wizard GPU family, a range of IP processors that offer high-performance ray tracing, graphics and compute in a power envelope suitable for mobile and embedded use cases. This opens up the potential of highly photorealistic, computer generated imagery to a host of new real-time applications and markets not previously possible.”

Further, this will “allow game developers to view lighting changes in near real time, accelerating the development process”.

And what does this all have to do with the iPhone 6, we hear you ask?

Glad you asked. “Apple has not been explicitly mentioned as interested in taking advantage of the new Wizard GPU designs, but the company has used Imagination GPUs in all of its iOS devices and is a minority investor in Imagination, holding an approximately 10 percent stake in the company,” says MacRumors.

But wait, “As for timing, it seems that Wizard GPUs will not be making their way into products until 2015, indicating that they are not candidates for the iPhone 6, which is expected to debut later this year.” Oh, so not the iPhone 6, but ‘future’ iPhones. That’s OK, we can wait.

 

Well, some people without brains do an awful lot of talking don’t they?

There’s been a frightful lot of column inches filled this week with reactions to the latest book about Apple, Haunted Empire by Yukari Iwatani Kane. A lot of them not very positive reactions, it must be said. Time magazine called it simply a “bad book”. Rene Ritchie’s succinct review is, “Skip it.” (Well, there is more, but the first two words say it all.)

And Tim Cook’s response was reported widely. “This nonsense belongs with some of the other books I’ve read about Apple. It fails to capture Apple, Steve, or anyone else in the company. Apple has over 85,000 employees that come to work each day to do their best work, to create the world’s best products, to put their mark in the universe and leave it better than they found it. This has been the heart of Apple from day one and will remain at the heart for decades to come. I am very confident about our future. We’ve always had many doubters in our history. They only make us stronger.” Whoah, you tell her, Tim.

But our favourite so far comes from Benjamin Mayo at 9to5Mac, who emailed Apple’s senior vice president of Internet Software and Services, Eddy Cue regarding a passage in the book that purports to explain how Cue went from worker bee to one of the heads of the hive. The story basically had Cue speaking up in a meeting twice and being shot down by Steve Jobs, who also threw a pen at him. When he had the balls tenacity to try a third time, Jobs capitulated and decided he was the man.

True story? asked Mayo. “No, it’s not,” replied Cue, concisely.

 

Never met, apparently.

 

I’ve been dying to tell you what I thought of you! And now… well, being a Christian woman, I can’t say it!

And finally comes the report today that Jesse Eisenberg is feeling a little huffy and ‘what did I do wrong?’-y. Actually, the rumour to which we refer doesn’t mention young Jesse at all. It’s just that with David Fincher and Aaron Sorkin supposedly ramping up to make the definitive Steve Jobs movie (our italics), the star of their previously hugely successful tech film, The Social Network may have been looking forward to rejoining them in the sandpit*. But no, Christian is their boy. As we reported here in Macworld Australia this very morning, Fincher has told the world that he’ll only agree to helm the film if Oscar winner and Batman star Christian Bale is cast in the lead.

Why are we telling you this again? Well, mostly because a/we love a movie reference and b/ it gives us a chance to share this response to the rumour from CausticPuppy on MacRumors‘ forums.

 

Best. Comment. Ever.**

 

And that’s the Rumour Mill for the week ending 21 March 2014. “A place where there isn’t any trouble. Do you suppose there is such a place, Toto? There must be. It’s not a place you can get to by a boat or a train. It’s far, far away. Behind the moon, beyond the rain…”

* Again, utter conjecture on our part. In all likelihood, he couldn’t give a (flying) monkey’s…

** Well, not ever perhaps. But this morning definitely.

 

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