The Rumour Mill

Madeleine Swain
30 May, 2014
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Good morning restless rumour wranglers. It is now just three days, 17 hours and 22 minutes (well, it was when I started typing) until the start of one of the most anticipated events of the year for Apple lovers and observers – the 2014 Worldwide Developers Conference.

Apple will be streaming it live and we here at Macworld Australia will be covering it from 3am on Tuesday morning our time (yes, we’ll be up and at work to bring you all the latest as and when it’s announced. That’s OK, you’re welcome).

Accordingly, and unsurprisingly, most of the rumours gaining any sort of traction at all this week are regarding what we may or may not learn once Tim, Eddy, Craig and co take to the Moscone West Center stage.

Let’s go through our favourite real and fabled products one by one, shall we?

The iWatch – it’s still not time

The latest thinking is that whether it gets mentioned or not at WWDC, a smartwatch will not be forthcoming from Apple until later in the year – possibly in September alongside the next iPhone launch, says Technology Tell. When (and, of course if, it does though, Technology Tell and MacRumors both suggest it will come with wireless charging capabilities. The origin of the rumour stems from various Chinese media reports, which point to sources at Apple supplier Luxshare.

Hurrah! One less thing monopolising our increasingly beleaguered power points. I mean, seriously. We have a modest household of four and currently have at least four iPads, three phones, a couple of iPods, a DS or two, a brace of netbooks and a couple of desktops currently battling each other for their share of the powerboard. Wireless charging would be a dream, Apple. Make it so.

Balogh-iwatch

Traditional watch-style iWatch concept by Gábor Balogh. (Source: MacRumors)

 

The $64,000 question though is, of course, what will it look like? We’ve had rectangular clunky mock-ups. We’ve had the super sleek bangle-shape bands. We’ve even had the ‘cool with the kids’ slap band concept. But this week we seem to be leaning towards a round face, similar to traditional watches. Aha, the return of skeuomorphism. Er, or something…

Analyst Brian Blair has been talking to Taiwanese supply chain sources and this is what he’s come up with. He also reckons that production could begin in late July, with the aim of making 21 million of the little critters in the second half of the year – and he’s said as much in a note to investors.

As MacRumors concludes the smartwatch would feature health monitoring features, including the much rumoured Healthbook app, which is likely to be revealed next week. “Though an iWatch announcement is not expected for WWDC, Apple will likely unveil some of the early details on iOS 8 at the developer conference next week,” says the site.

iOS 8 – haven’t you heard, multitasking is actually counterproductive?

While the world and his wife expects iOS 8 to be explained in detail at WWDC and tech writers everywhere have been chewing through column inches creating their wish lists for the latest version of the mobile operating system, we’re sorry to hear of one update that apparently will not appear. And that’s the split-screen, multitasking feature that would be a boon to iPad users everywhere. The New York Times’ Brian Chen is the source of this suggestion, who tweeted that the feature is still in development and simply won’t be ready in time for next week’s event.


MacRumors also notes that when the feature does arrive, it will probably only be for the iPad Air, rather than the iPhone or Retina iPad mini.

Smart home integration – clever, but not that clever

We have heard talk of a smart home integration system being one of the big reveals of next week’s event. But now everyone seems to be back pedalling a bit on this one. A report fro Gigaom claims “the new initiative is less of a platform than it is an extension of the ‘Made for iPhone’ certification program,” reports AppleInsider.

While the initiative is likely to incorporate some standard home automation features such as remote control over Bluetooth and the connection of smart devices to a home’s Wi-Fi network, hooks to Siri for voice control operations are likely to be constricted to just minor commands.

Put the washing on, Siri...

 

So no, “Turn on the heating in the living room, Siri, put a load of washing on and feed the guinea pigs” just yet? On the upside, that means we’re still a little way off the old “Open the pod bay doors, HAL” “I’m sorry Dave, I’m afraid I can’t do that,” scenario. Frankly, that’s a bit of a relief.

Cheaper iMac and 8GB iPhone – ‘Oh yes they will.’ ‘Oh no they won’t!’

So a smart home, that’s not quite so clever. Anything else? How about more traditional hardware? Any love for the iMac or the idea of a 8GB iPhone. Well, this is a fun one, because we have a straightforward Yes/No response from two of our most regular commentators this week. Who are you going to back – KGI Securities’ Mighty Ming-Chi Kuo, who earlier this week predicted that WWDC 2014 would feature cheaper versions of the iMac and iPhone 5s, the latter appearing in an 8GB version?

Or, would you rather put your money on the famously taciturn leviathan of The Loop, Jaunty Jim Dalrymple, who was presented with this rumour, took a deep breath and pronounced his verdict: “Nope.”

Love it. And on that oh-so concise note we’ll leave you.

That’s the Rumour Mill for the week ending 30 May 2014. And remember, whatever is revealed at next week’s WWDC you heard it hear first… or second… or…

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