The Rumour Mill

Macworld Australia Staff
24 January, 2014
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Goodness, is it Friday already? Where does the week go? Don’t answer that. Because all we really need to know is that, yes, it is indeed the end of the week (and beginning of the Australia Day long weekend – huzzah) and that means it’s time for our regular round-up of rumours.

And, as today is the auspicious anniversary of the birth/unveiling of Steve’s beautiful beige baby (and doesn’t it look so cutely archaic now?), this week’s Rumour Mill is brought to you courtesy of the 1984 Apple Macintosh and its daddy, Mr J. Altogether now… “Hello, I am Macintosh. It sure is great to get out of that bag…”

If you really look closely, most overnight successes took a long time.

iWatch rumours turn up with such predictable regularity these days, you can practically, er, set your watch by them. So, in order not to upset the Apple cart, we’ll start with this week’s favourite smartwatch scuttlebutt. The source is the Korean publication, Digital Daily, which asserts that the rumoured iWatch will have its flexible OLED displays supplied by LG. But you’re going to have to take our word for it.

And MacRumors, which has also linked to the report, because the cached Google translate of the original Korean article is pretty much unintelligible. But check it out anyway. If you’re bored and find lines like “LG Display, Apple’s made by the panel of smart clock kids watch (tentative name) will be mounted” diverting, that is. Everyone else may just like to stop by old MacRumors, which kindly breaks it all down for us. “LG is said to be starting mass production of these flexible panels starting in July 2014 with an initial target volume of 2 million units, and Apple chose these panels because they are thin, light, and provide adequate brightness with minimal power consumption, insiders claim,” says the site.


An incredibly detailed and revealing sketch from Apple's bracelet patent...


It goes on to speculate further on the possible launch date (really, it’s a hiding to nothing that one, isn’t it? But still they trudge gamely on with it…), before noting that the Digital Daily‘s report has now been removed, but whether that it means it was unreliable in the first place is hard to determine.


If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking

And just to start as we mean to carry on (no wait a minute, turn that sentence the other way around… that’s better), reports of recruitment drives taking place at its new sapphire glass factory in Mesa, Arizona have led to further speculation about the imminent arrival of a veritable swathe of iGadgets. Principally, of course, the good old iWatch. But UK site, The Register also notes that the glass produced will also be utilised in future iPads, iPods and iPhones. Pretty much all and anything iOS, then?

GT Advanced (sapphire slabs, Pocketnow 001)

The job recruitment ads state Apple is looking for heaps of staff. The Cupertino, California company has already posted vacancies for a facilities manager, technical product manager and manufacturing design engineer. But now the call has gone out for less managerial positions, such as software engineers, optical scientists and safety technicians.

As The Register comments, GT Advanced (Apple’s manufacturing partner in the venture) has sent around a postcard detailing requirements. “Right now we’re looking for people to join the team behind our new state-of-the-art sapphire material manufacturing facility in Mesa, Arizona. If you can bring excellent technical skills and a collaborative approach, we’ll welcome you into a high-performing professional environment where talent and commitment are always well-rewarded.”

If you’re looking for work, fit the bill for any of these positions and, oh yes, have a Green Card, here’s the spot to find out more. You’re welcome and, when you get the job, remember your friends at the Rumour Mill, who’ll be eagerly awaiting news from the horse’s mouth about when we can really see the iWatch (if it exists) for ourselves…


Creativity is just connecting things

Ah! Here’s something a bit different. 9to5Mac and Ars Technica are both talking this week about iOS in the Car – a concept that was first discussed by Apple at the most recent Worldwide Developer Conference in June last year. iOS in the Car is a vehicle integration feature that would enable drivers to text, use Maps and do all sorts of other things without taking their hands off the wheel.

Great news for anyone like The Rumour Mill’s colleague who got whopping with four demerit points and a stonking great fine for picking up his phone and clicking onto hands-free while his vehicle was in motion this week. But not so great if you’re one of those conscious that there are actually three different sorts of distractions stipulated by the US’s Department of Transportation. iOS in the car may have you sorted when it comes to visual and manual distractions, which certainly are the major offenders in this area. But the sneaky one is cognitive – “when an individual’s focus is not directly on the act of driving and her mind wanders”, is how Wikipedia describes it.

Surely, iOS in the car is only going to add to the ever-increasing mountain of clutter in our heads?

Well, we’ll leave you to argue you the ins and outs of that one, while we pass on 9to5Mac‘s revelations. Apple has already published some early suggestions of what iOS in the Car might look like, but now, apparently, some screen shots pulled from the Twitter feed of developer Steve Troughton-Smith seem to show a refined version of the iOS in the car interface.

Screen Shot 2014-01-21 at 1.42.58 PM

Screenshot from Steve Troughton-Smith's Twitter feed.


And from this analysts are suggesting that the feature will be supported by the next update of iOS – iOS 7.1 which is currently in beta testing.

As Ars Technica points out though, it’s all pretty moot, unless you have the fancy new car to go with it. “Though Apple says a number of automakers (including Acura, Chevy, Ferrari, Honda, Hyundai, Infiniti, Jaguar, Kia, Mercedes-Benz, Nissan and Opel) are interested in bringing the feature to some of their 2014 models, replacing a car to use a new feature is a bit more onerous than buying new cables or other accessories,” concludes the site.


Someday not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away

Touch ID? That’s so 2013. As MacRumors notes, the fingerprint sensor technology utilised in the iPhone 5s was just the first sign of Apple dipping its toes into the wonderfully wacky waters of biometrics. The fruity firm bought AuthenTec in 2012 and swiftly implemented its acquisition’s specialist knowledge into its flagship smartphone, but now it’s going further. Much further. MacRumors links to a report on 9to5Mac, which explains how Apple has been making some intriguing hires of late, including people like Nancy Dougherty, who was lured away from Sano Intelligence, and Ravi Narasimhan, erstwhile employee of medical devices company Vital Connect.

One of Sano’s projects was “a small, painless patch that can work on the arm and uses needle-less technologies to read and analyse a user’s blood”. This has huge ramifications for any possible wearable devices, as well as giving Google a kick in the pants.

Why the kick in the pants? Well, Google has been spruiking the development of its contact lens that can inform diabetics as to the current state of their blood sugar levels… while conveniently overlooking the fact that many diabetics are advised to steer clear of contact lenses, due to the increased risk of infection they pose. Hmmm, close Google, but no Havana.

But, for Apple, as the man with the steak knives likes to say, that’s not all.

“Apple is also said to be studying new ways of applying sensors such as compasses and accelerometers to improve facial recognition. These technologies could be instrumental in improving security, photography, and other existing facets of Apple’s mobile devices,” reports 9to5Mac.


Things don’t have to change the world to be important

Could it be that, all evidence to the contrary, it still IS Tom Cruise’s world and we’re just living in it??

And still on how we make things actually work for us… AppleInsider and MacRumors have noted a new patent lodged by Apple this week that could see us using our trackpads in a whole new way. US Patent No. 8,633,916 “describes a touchpad that utilises force sensors and acuator feedback” says MacRumors.

While AppleInsider elaborates “Apple’s MacBooks currently feature an integrated button, or ‘all-in-one’, design. In this layout, a user initiates a button press by pushing down on the trackpad’s surface, at which time a hinged mechanism located at the rear edge of the touch pad allows movement of the front end. The front edge is coupled to a switch that produces a clicking sound when actuated… The patent instead offers a solution that incorporates at least four force sensors deployed at the four corners of a trackpad.”


Simple can be harder than complex

Mavericks, Mac Pro, iOS, iPad Air and mini with Retina display, iPhone 5s and 5c… there’s been a positive plethora of new and updated Apple products and services over the last months or so. But isn’t always the quiet little fellas that get overlooked? Well, Mac mini, don’t you worry about that, because it looks like your turn in the spotlight could be sooner than you think.

As MacRumors notes, the little engine that could hasn’t seen an update since October 2012. But a Belgian retailer reckons we could see new Haswell chip toting minis by the end of February.

Thank you, Belgium.

Woah!!! Hold up a moment there. A Belgian retailer? The country that admittedly gave us chocolate, Hercule Poirot and the second greatest lesbian vampire movie ever made*? But ground breaking tech news, not so much? Well apparently yes. “As noted in our forums, major Belgian retailer has now posted placeholder listings for new Haswell Mac minis in Core i5 and Core i7 variations,” says MacRumors.

But the site also offers a word of caution. “Retailer placeholders are typically unreliable indicators of new product launches, although they have on occasion been accurate. One forum poster did, however, contact the store and was told that the information ‘comes from Apple or reliable sources’.” So, yay, go Belgium.


Details matter, it’s worth waiting to get it right

And finally, it wouldn’t be the Rumour Mill without one of our rumour roundabout regulars. If it’s not the iWatch or Apple TV, it has to be the iPhone 6 really doesn’t it?

And boy have we got news for you! This one is a ‘tried and true, sure as eggs are eggs, take it to the bank’ solid fact.

We’re talking size and connectivity. AppleInsider is quoting a Wall Street analyst who, “claims that the company has already internally ‘locked down’ the design for its next flagship handset, sporting a 4.8in display and speedy 802.11ac Wi-Fi connectivity”.

iPhone Plus

Mock-up of iPhone with 4.94in screen, created by Marco Arment.


Great, but why then does that mock-up picture AppleInsider is featuring show a possible 4.94in display?

On second thoughts, maybe don’t take that to the bank then, just flash it out of the window as you drive past, quickly…

In related news, Fairfax is today reporting that not only will there be a bigger screen for the iPhone 6 (it’s plumping for 4.5in though), but that also the iPhone 5c will be scrapped. Yep, scrapped. You heard it here… second.

And that’s the Rumour Mill for the week ending 24 January 2014.

Happy Birthday 0ld Apple Macintosh, hope it’s a corker. And to the rest of you, remember some more wise words from Steve Jobs (and thank the universe they weren’t addressed to you…), who once said to a NeXT programmer: “You’ve baked a really lovely cake, but then you’ve used dog shit for frosting.”

Harry Kümel’s sublime Daughter of Darkness, starring über goddess Delphine Seyrig, a lass who should have been in ABBA and the chap who grew up to be Harvey in Cagney and Lacey.

What? Number one? Why, The Hunger, of course. Did you really need to ask?


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