The Rumour Mill

Macworld Australia Staff
13 December, 2013
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As it gets ever closer to Christmas, the rumour mongers seem less interested in what might be happening in the New Year, and rather more concerned with what possible goodies Santa may be stuffing in his sack for them.

And who can blame them? So, though the rumours today may be thinner than snow on the ground on an average Australian Christmas Day*, we’re still happy to report that in one little bedroom somewhere in the great big US of A, it looks like Santa came early.

Well, if Santa is really Tony Fadell that is. And he only actually gives presents to himself…

Santa Claus is Back in Town

You know that extraordinary bid at the recent charity auction that snapped up a one-off bright red Mac Pro for the chump change price of  just US$977,000 … (sorry, just had to sit down and have a sip of water for a moment)? Well, there are now loud whispers regarding the purchaser of said trinket. Oh and the US$461,000 rose gold ear buds too. Well, you always need a little something extra in the toe of the stocking, don’t you?

Apparently, the lucky boy who was taking no chances on a third party deciding whether he’d been naughty or nice this year, was none other than Tony Fadell. Young Tony, for those not in the know and according to his Wikipedia page, is an inventor, designer, entrepreneur and ‘angel’ investor. Angel? Ahhhh, then he’s definitely been nice, especially considering all of that money he allegedly handed over is going to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.

Of course, he’s also best known as ‘one of the fathers of the iPod’ (so, come to think of it, you’d think he’d already have some ear buds… perhaps his wore out…?)

'But will it fit in my stocking...?'

Three years ago, he founded the company Nest Labs, which released its first product, the Nest Learning Thermostat, the following year. Judging by the nickels and dimes jiggling around young Tony’s pockets during charity auctions, it would seem a fair bet to say that the Nest Learning Thermostat is selling rather well. We’d invest now, if we were you. And we had any money.

Here comes Santa Claus

Apple patents are always good rumour fodder. And this one provides enough to give even old Rudolph and all his mates plenty to chow down on. The patent was filed with the European Patent Office and, according to MacRumors.com, describes a “system using an in-car accessory with an iOS device to set up geofences to activate various vehicle functions as a user approaches a vehicle”.

geofencingpatent

'Blow up passenger now...' 'Hello, who's that?... ASIO? What? I was just sending instructions to my car...'

So, it’s like the technology in your battery operated car key, but does so much more than just open a door? Oh, yes my friends. The geo-fencing in your smartphone would transmit a signal that, first off, monitors the location of a vehicle. How grand would that function be on a wintry night when the snow is deep and crisp and even? And you can’t for the life of you remember where you left the bloody car. Of course it’s generally only the northern hemisphere that would experience such conditions during the Christmas period. But with recent crazy contradictions in the climate, who knows?

There is also the idea that revellers who may have had one or two tipples too many (and try saying that three times quickly if you have…) could also be a little ‘confused’ as to where they parked. This little gizmo could of course help them return to the car and RETRIEVE their coat before hailing that cab to get home safely.

But that’s just scratching the surface of the potential applications of the new Apple patent. “When the mobile device (and the user) are close enough to the car, the mobile device would transmit a second signal to the accessory within the car, allowing it to trigger functions like door unlocking, defrosting, heating, trunk opening, seat warming and more,” reports MacRumors. No word on whether it could also hit the inflate button on useful little pieces of paraphernalia for ‘lone female drivers‘… but we bet it could if it really wanted to.

Though, of course, there are those times when the reason you’re returning to your car is because you left your phone in it. And when that happens… sorry, you’re on your own.

Silent Night

Now we all know the idea of ordering food and other products and services digitally is no longer the stuff of fantasy. We’ve been gobbling gado gado, pigging out on pizza and munching on Mexican without so much as a phone call between order and ‘dive in everyone’ for a goodly while now.

But another new patent filed this week suggests Apple is looking to take a bite out of that market (sorry). This week, Patently Apple revealed, “The US Patent and Trademark Office published a patent application from Apple that reveals a new ordering and reservation system that could work with various Apple iDevices. Although the system can be modified to be apply to movie theatres, repair services, museums and the like, Apple’s main focus is on a restaurant market application.”

And Apple intends to exercise its ordering system in an exemplary fashion, apparently. Well, we’d expect nothing less. And our thanks to MacDailyNews for alerting us to this tasty morsel.

2. examplary ordering system - apple patent figure 4

Apple's patent FIG. 4 illustrates an exemplary system for managing a wait list.

Blue Christmas

To all those who had ‘Apple TV set’ at the top of their Christmas wish list, on behalf of Apple, we can only say ‘sorry, the wait’s not over yet’.

To TV or not to TV, that is the question. The rumours and whispers of an Apple TV have been whipping around like a snow flurry in an alleyway for many a moon now. Combined with the ever increasing number of channels Apple has signed up, and the speculation about if and when the tech giant will ever actually release its own television set, which may or may not come with a 65in screen, it’s easy for a soul to get perplexed. For a comprehensive round-up of what’s happening with both Apple TV and the still unconfirmed Apple TV set, our good friends at MacRumors have put together this little overview. We still don’t know if 2014 will be the year we’ll finally see the mythical winged beast that is the Apple TV set, but in the meantime we can consider ourselves well and truly informed as to the current state of play.

Well, about as well-informed as anyone else not actually bunkered down in the Cupertino foxhole and working in the cell marked ‘Apple TV set – sssshhh, top secret’.

I Believe

Really, this Elvis Christmas subtitle song could apply to just about any of the items we feature here in the Rumour Mill. No matter how outlandish, unlikely or just plain wacko (this one is still our favourite and yet to be beaten) the rumours are, there is always someone out there who believes them to be true. And when it comes to the next iPhone – or iPhone 6 as it’s generally dubbed – there are a whole passel of folk ready to swear that, sure as Santa is real and Good King W really did look out, they know exactly what the next iteration of Apple’s smartphone will look like and they’re prepared to put those ‘certainties’ down in black and white. And space grey.

iPhone 6 concept

Concept render of what the iPhone 6 might look like. (ADR Studio)

One such is IBTimes UK, which has helpfully put together this little overview of the expected specs, style and release date.

“For the iPhone 6, expected to be announced in the third quarter of 2014, the excitement will be mostly driven by rumours of a larger screen, fitting neatly with Apple’s established strategy of updating the phone’s visual appearance every other year, meaning an all-new iPhone for 2014,” says the site. “Along with the larger screen – or possibly even a choice of screen sizes – expect to see iOS 7 become iOS 8, the phone’s 64-bit processor to get even faster, and the introduction of more features for the iPhone 5s’ TouchID fingerprint scanner.”

The site then proceeds to sum up all the current thinking and gossip about the next iPhone, while linking to a whole lot of other rumour mongers and scuttlebutt sources. Neatly and fairly comprehensively. So, thanks for that IB Times.

And that’s it, the Rumour Mill for the week ending 13 December 2013 and the penultimate one for the year. Oh, if only ‘Every Day Was Like Christmas’…

 

* unless you’re in the Victorian Alps apparently…

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