Welcome back to the beehive of questionable activity and scurrilous gossip that is the Rumor Roundup, the forge in which a good deal of future truth is revealed -- amongst a steaming pile of second-guessing, market manipulation, misfiring guesses, and outright magical thinking. This week's predictions range from the probable (Apple will finally bring Siri to the Mac in the next major OS X upgrade) to the questionable (new iPhones will be bright pink, no wait ...) to the good old-fashioned plain old wrong (mean old Apple will take away iPad Pro Apple Pencil navigation!) and more.
In order of credibility, the latest rumor we've heard is one of the most likely: that Apple will finally bring Siri to the Mac
starting with OS X 10.12, which is expected to be announced in June at the Worldwide Developers Conference, and available to the public sometime in the fall of this year. The report says that Siri will be offered as a permanent icon in the menubar, alongside the battery indicator on notebooks or the Wi-Fi signal indicator, or as a keyboard shortcut. According to the rumor, it can also turned off if users don't want it.
Siri on the Mac should be nearly identical to the current experience on iOS devices, with Siri appearing (when summoned either by pressing the menubar icon, or optionally by simply saying "Hey Siri") in a notification-style semi-transparent black box in the upper right corner of the screen. There is some speculation that Apple will also introduce significant expansion of Siri's abilities, as it has steadily since the technology's introduction in 2011, that would be likewise reflected in the iOS, watchOS, and tvOS versions.
The forthcoming OS X 10.12 (which doesn't yet have an official name, but we are hoping for "Big Sur" or, as an alternate choice, "Knottsberry Farm") is also rumored to sport minor interface tweaks to the style first introduced with OS X 10.10 Yosemite -- a very logical presumption, as Apple has used each and every major OS X release to further refine its UI design (a fact users always seem to forget when Apple first introduces a new look). Don't believe us? Check out the "brushed metal look" in iTunes 1.0, and compare it to the metal look in iTunes 11, below).
First version of iTunes, 2001
iTunes 11.4, the last version before the redesign
As Apple CEO Tim Cook recently pointed out
in an interview with Fortune
that he spent most of debunking the "Apple iCar" rumor, hiring a bunch of people with expertise in a given field doesn't necessarily mean anything more than Apple is investigating some ideas that may or may not pan out, with promotions or pink slips depending on how that goes. Particularly if Apple was
actually interested in making its own car (what with its love of controlling the whole experience and all), a much larger outlay of capital, facilities, and government approval would be required, as Cook noted -- or maybe he's just throwing out a red herring. So now that line of speculation is back to being about Apple working more closely with proper car manufacturers on advanced in-vehicle technology, which makes more sense.
Another area where Apple has
spent gobs of money is on battery and charging technology, and a recent intriguing rumor -- which refreshingly admits it is based on coincidence and circumstance, rather than taking the usual absolutist approach -- postulates that Apple may secretly be working with wireless charging firm Energous
to finally bring wireless power charging to the iPhone. The twist on this is that Energous has been working on wireless charging through RF frequencies
that can be accomplished from up to 15 feet away on multiple devices simultaneously, rather than requiring direct contact with a charging pad as existing solutions use.
The originator of this speculation, Louis Basenese of Disruptive Tech Research
, notes that while Apple has filed very few patents on wireless charging itself, it could be partnering with Energous through their mutual membership in a group devoted to wireless power transfer testing, their shared manufacturing partners (Foxconn and TSMC), and that Energous is the only company with "remote" wireless charging capability that is nearly ready for market, which they call WattUp. The energy firm announced a deal with an unnamed partner early last year, referred to only as "one of the top five companies in the world."
It did not escape our notice that in the 2014 conceptual video demonstrating how the idea works (seen below), only Apple products were being used. You be the judge.
A rumor that came and went too fast for us to even comment on was a claim that the "iPhone 5se" (or "iPhone 6c," nobody seems to know for sure), which is being announced in just three weeks supposedly, was going to take on at least one new color option: bright pink
. The foundation of this belief is not completely outrageous: the iPhone 5c line was noted for its strong primary color range, and had a red option that looked to many as anything from light red to "salmon mousse" -- plus there is always the possibility that Apple would make (assuming they're making this new four-inch iPhone model for real) a "product (RED)" version of it, so again there's some sense to the speculation.
This was quickly walked back, however, as a mistaken report that the iPhone 5se/6c would actually just have the same colors as are currently offered for the iPhone 6 and 6s lines: Gold, Silver, Space Gray, and Rose Gold -- the latter of which presumably was somehow mistaken for "bright pink" by a possibly colorblind factory worker or other leaker. The rumored event that will bring us the new four-inch iPhone model, the delayed "iPad Air 3," and some sort of Apple Watch stuff we can buy (bands, accessories, possible new versions tied to fashion partnerships like the Hermés Apple Watch was) is "set" for Tuesday, March 15.
Finally, we have to mention an embarrassing misstep
by several Mac news sites (but not this one) in putting too much stock into a rumor, both as a cautionary tale about believing speculation, and about the dangers of relying on unnamed sources. The Cortex
podcast recently cited "people in the know" as "confirming" that the navigational abilities of the Apple Pencil on the iPad Pro -- which exists now in the current iOS version, but isn't present in the iOS 9.3 beta -- was being intentionally removed by Apple as a "design decision," even though it is a popular but minor function of the Apple Pencil.
It's not like Apple hasn't pulled stuff like that before -- we wrote an entire series
on this very phenomenon, and probably have enough material for a sequel -- but there was never a good reason given for the removal of the feature, which would be limited (as the Apple Pencil currently is) to the iPad Pro. Explanations provided by the podcast and other sites amounted to "because reasons," and users were already upset by the claims
. In response, Apple did something it almost never does -- it issued a statement flat-out denying
that this was happening, and that the features would be back in the next beta -- with improvements! -- and in the final version of iOS 9.3, which is expected around the time of the alleged "special event," in mid-March.