The Rumour Mill

Macworld Australia Staff
6 December, 2013
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Tomorrow is the 33rd anniversary of the fateful day when Mark Chapman tragically took the ‘kill your darlings’ advice to heart and decided the best way to prove his love and admiration for John Lennon was to gun him down outside his home.

The world has been a little less bright ever since. In memoriam, this week’s Rumour Mill has the words of the Beatles turning its sails and grinding its flour. After all, Jobs wasn’t the first to think Apple was a good name for a company…

With a Little Help from My Friends

With the unconfirmed rumour that Apple has finally struck a deal with China Mobile, it looks like the potential market for iPhone users just grew by about three billion trillion. Well, OK not quite that many. But LOTS.

China Mobile is the country’s biggest mobile operator and if reports from The Wall Street Journal are correct, the deal would open up a potential market of 700 million subscribers for the Cupertino California company. But, ever the cautious crew, we’re not quite calling it yet.

While the WSJ has gone out on a limb and proclaimed the deal done and dusted, Reuters was a little more circumspect, claiming that neither Apple nor China Mobile have confirmed as yet. Reuters noted, “China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology issued 4G licenses to China Mobile, China Unicom and China Telecom in another widely expected move. China Mobile’s 4G TD-LTE licence paves the way for it to offer iPhones as Apple’s latest models support the standard… ‘We are still negotiating with Apple, but for now we have nothing new to announce,’ China Mobile spokeswoman Rainie Lei said, declining to elaborate. Apple also declined comment.”

Can’t Buy Me Love

Reports are also surfacing this week that our old friend Carl Icahn, the renowned corporate investor, has stuttered a little in his ongoing campaign to influence Apple policy. Trigger happy tweeter Icahn has been relentless in his efforts to persuade Apple to give more of its formidable stockpiles of cash back to investors. Investors like Icahn, who currently has MacDailyNews published a story which seems to see him softening his approach a little. Perhaps after Andrew Wilkinson revealed that Icahn’s actual share in the company amounted to around 0.5 percent and he sits at the number 23 mark on the list of investors, he’s decided to temper his demands. Icahn’s latest announcement to both Time magazine and his 119,000 Twitter followers referred to his ‘precatory’ proposal that Apple increases in buyback program. MacDailyNews helpfully translates precatory as meaning ‘of, relating to, or expressing a wish or request’.

The subtext being that Icahn is asking really, really nicely and has also lowered his sights from that original US$150 billion amount to a still considerable US$50 billion Christmas present. And, if not under his tree, then at least by the end of the fiscal year; i.e. in the next 10 months.

Awww, Tim, how can you refuse him?

puss in boots shrek gif

Gotta Get You into My Life

The flickering flames of a rumour about a larger iPad have grown and multiplied until now they could probably be classified as a veritable inferno. And Technologytell.com has no interest in dousing the fire. Saleem this week reported that, adding to the suggestion that Apple is working on a (possible) 12.9in tablet, due to be released in 2014, with the following juicy bit of scuttlebut: “Apple’s manufacturing partner, Foxconn, manufactured five prototype iPads featuring 2K and 4K resolution with a screen size of 12.9in” – not just planning, but already putting them out them for trial and testing. The site references PadNews, a Chinese publication, as being the source of these rumours… “which also mentioned Apple will launch the 12.9in iPad with 2K resolution in the first half of 2014, possibly in April, followed by a 4K resolution model a few months later in October during the regular update cycle. The current iPads boast a resolution of 2048 x 1536 pixels resolution, which are, by a few standards, 2K resolution.”

Though really, we have to say, pixels, shmixels – do you really think that kind of detailed information is going to get people clicking through to your site, Technology Tell? Stand back and let the UK’s Daily Mirror show you how it’s done. “Is Apple making GIANT iPad tablet with Retina Display to dwarf competitors?” screeches its headline. Apparently being just over a foot now qualifies you as a giant in Mirror Land. Has anyone told Peter Jackson that? It’s really going to throw a cat among the pigeons in the Shire…

Tell Me What You See

Oh, now this one’s good. The UK’s Daily Mail website is running with the idea that TouchID is so old hat Apple is planning to develop technology that lets you unlock your iPhone with your fizzog. No, not rubbing your nose on it, or going the full pash. Just looking at it. The Mail’s reasoning behind this assertion? Well, simple enough really. With a nod to AppleInsider’s take on the story, the Mail reported that this week Apple was “granted the rights to a ‘personal computing device control using face detection and recognition’,” says the site. US Patent no. 8,600,120 would allow the tech giant to not only unlock their phone just by beaming in its direction, but could also possibly unlock special features, says the Mail online.

iPhone

Yeah, but what happens when she takes her glasses off?

It’s not the first face recognition patent Apple has filed, says the site, which also notes such technology is already in use by some Android phones. Now, here at the Mill we’re sure this is all tickety boo, but some of those text boxes on the below flow chart have us unnerved.

Apple

Image: USPTO

Feature Extraction?? Face Alignment??? We’d like our features right where we left them if that’s OK by you. And unaligned…

The Latin Post, by the way, also took this idea and expanded it. “Apple’s newly acquired patent consists of three distinct features: a facial detection application that allows for actual faces to be identified, disregarding the background images; a facial recognition technology that identifies select and authorised faces; and an input/output application that allows Apple’s devices act on all the facial data it collects to either allow or lock out phone access.”

Then it shuffled a little further… “In addition, it is expected that Apple will port the new technology in iPhone 6, along with other devices such as television, PDAs and personal computers. For instance, the screensaver of a PC will react to a user’s face rather than to a preset period of inactivity.”

Let It Be

Mobile chrome apps

And finally this week, in the ‘file under useful-but-not-terribly-sexy folder’, Technology Tell is also reporting that Google is possibly creating a toolkit that will “allow users to install Chrome apps on iOS and Android devices. It’s not official yet, but a GitHub repository known as Mobile Chrome Apps, created by Google software developer Michal Mocny, was discovered by the folks at The Next Web”.

And that’s the Rumour Mill for the week ending 6 December 2013. You Say Hello and We Say Goodbye… RIP Madiba. x

 

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