Unlike the week before, this past week hasn’t seen an epic B.S.-storm of rumors.
A few of the ones that came out got huge piles of attention, however, not the least because rumors of a 16:9 screen iPhone sound so delicious to so many that we all want to believe… even though we’ve all been “burned” on this one once before.
But before we can get to those slightly plausible rumors, we have to get the utterly ridiculous ones out of the way first.
Stop me if you’ve heard this one: Apple’s HDTV will have a feature where you can control playback and other functions using Siri on your i*BZZT*
B.S. detector reading: 8/10. We’ve been hearing this one since Siri debuted, yet the latest Apple TV shows zero integration with the “intelligent” voice assistant. In fact, it’s been seven months since Siri went public, and aside from a very modest expansion of language support, the software hasn’t seemed to improve much. It’s still restricted to a single device, the iPhone 4S, and it still doesn’t handle driving directions or local business searches in most countries.
Then, there’s this week’s gossip that Siri has been a disappointment to Apple so far, and Steve Jobs would have “lost his mind” if the voice-activated software was launched during his tenure. I have no problem with Siri personally; it does everything I ask it. I just wish I were able to ask it more things. But I’m not holding my breath for Siri integration with a product that has about as much evidence in its favor as Sasquatch.
Apple’s Coming Plan To Take Over The TV Business (Forrester Research)
Forrester Research, famous for predicting Apple’s unparalleled ascendancy and imminent doom in the same week, now predicts the Apple HDTV will be a non-TV TV. In other words, picture hanging a 32-inch iPad on your wall. Think about how “easy” it is to get media from various sources on an iPad. Then picture that replacing your current TV. Now picture that someone got paid to say that with a straight face.
B.S. detector reading: 10/10. What Forrester has proposed is effectively no different from the existing Apple TV, except it comes with a 32-inch screen and a much higher price tag. It sounds like the kind of product Apple would have been ecstatic to launch in 1996, back when the company had no idea how to make products that actually earned it money. The Apple of 2012 knows better.
GigaOM reaches the Singularity of stupid Apple rumors by combining the Apple HDTV and iPad mini into one epically mythical, misguided product. The iPad mini will be the TV that goes wherever you go! And it’ll provide zero advantages over any of Apple’s existing products!
B.S. detector reading: 10/10. Bad enough that GigaOM has divided by zero as far as Apple rumors go, the site has also conveniently neglected close to 65 years of TV viewing habits. Even if our 9.7-inch iPads now offer nearly double the resolution of the best HDTV out there, I’d be willing to bet 99.9 percent of you still watch most of your TV on a much bigger screen that’s much farther away.
Even assuming the iPad mini existed, it’d have to be just as multifunctional as the iPad Grande it’s supposed to complement. Otherwise, why would anyone buy it?
A “reliable source” tells BGR Microsoft Office is heading to iOS devices in six months. No really, this time for sure, guys.
B.S. detector reading: 6/10. I fully expect Office to debut on at least the iPad, eventually. But “reliable source” and BGR go together about as well as pickles and caramel. The site’s BREAKING EXCLUSIVE RUMORS have been so consistently wrong (remember the “Sprint-only iPhone 5?”) that virtually anything the site says has to be taken with enough salt to induce cardiac arrest.
Facebook Tries, Tries Again on a Smartphone (New York Times)
Facebook, world famous for this week’s terrible IPO and one of the buggiest household-name iOS apps in existence, is supposedly working on its own smartphone. Again. Just like in 2011, and 2010, both of which were indisputably the Year of the Facebook Phone (that never launched).
B.S. detector reading: 7/10. A software company building its very own smartphone wouldn’t be a new development. Google did it with the Nexus lineup… sort of. And the Microsoft-Nokia pairing is almost certain to see some Windows 8 devices coming out sometime between now and 2099.
But here’s the problem: most of the people accessing Facebook from a smartphone already have an iPhone. Facebook’s going to have to make a phone that’s more compelling than the most successful smartphone in the world, and I’m not convinced that a company with no hardware sales experience is going to manage well in that regard.
Plus, if the phone’s OS is anything like Facebook itself, the user interface is going to change so often (and almost never for the better) that people are never going to get used to how the damned phone works.
Apple May Make A Splash…With The Mac (Wall Street Journal)
A bunch of analysts agree that Apple’s getting ready to launch new Macs with Retina displays.
B.S. detector reading: 5/10. Here’s the problem: I want to believe that new Macs with Retina Displays are on the way. But because a bunch of clueless “analysts” predicted them, it kind of feels like the products vanished from existence the second the WSJ’s story went live.
These analysts don’t have any more information than the rest of us. They’re going off the same information we have, which is the usual slurry of rumors and made-up nonsense. Since that’s all they’ve got to go on, take their predictions as seriously as they deserve to be taken.
Some analyst claims the iPhone 3GS is going to be reduced in price and offered as a prepaid handset. As evidence, he says- hahaha, no, he didn’t offer any evidence whatsoever.
B.S. detector reading: 6/10. Apple has shown no intention of entering the prepaid market in spite of years worth of analysis claiming otherwise. About the closest the company has come to addressing the prepaid market is offering its handsets contract-free at an unsubsidised price.
The iPhone 3GS may seem like an ideal prepaid iPhone, but the question is whether Apple wants to “water down” the iPhone brand by offering such a super-cheap alternative. And given that the iPhone 3GS shares almost no components with later iPhones and iPod touches, at some point it’s simply going to be more trouble to continue building the device than it’s worth.
9to5 Mac makes a bold claim with initially plausible sounding numbers backing it up: the next iPhone will have a 16:9 ratio, 4-inch display at a resolution of 1136 x 640. The site throws in some official-sounding codenames and some typically cloak-and-dagger tales of phones being carried around Apple’s campuses in fake cases to disguise them.
B.S. detector reading: 5/10. Even if 9to5 Mac’s story sounds mostly plausible, there’s a small problem: none of it is new. Not one iota. Not the Photoshopped mockups, not the calculated pixel resolution, not the 16:9 screen. We’ve been hearing the same thing since at least February of 2011.
An iPhone with a 16:9 screen, running apps designed for the current 3:2 screen, would run those apps “letterboxed” like a widescreen movie on a standard TV, with 88 blank pixels on either side. Some apps, including TUAW’s own app, could in theory be easily updated for that resolution. Other types of apps, particularly games, are going to take a lot more work to port to yet another resolution.
I would love it if the iPhone’s screen switched to 16:9 — that was by far my favorite of the mockups I did in February of last year — but I won’t be at all surprised if the next iPhone has exactly the same screen. But then again…
Yet another parts leak, but at least this one is more interesting than a Home button or headphone cable. MacRumors got its hands on images of an iPod touch front faceplate that seemingly matches the 16:9 aspect ratio rumored elsewhere.
B.S. detector reading: 5/10. It’d be one thing if MacRumors actually handled these parts, but all it has to go on is images from a parts supplier — images that are relatively easy to fake. That said, past parts leaks to MacRumors have panned out before, and I’m willing to give them a few bonus points just for relying on someone other than DigiTimes for a change.
As WWDC gets closer, we’re sure to hear yet more rumors surrounding the upgrades to the Mac lineup. Depending on how slow of a news week we have ahead, we’ll probably hear more about the iPad mini and Apple HDTV, too. More’s the pity.