TIME Rumors

There Are 2 Huge Rumors About New Apple Products

Apple Watch Launch Rumors
View of the Apple watch displayed in a shop on the Saint-Honore street, a day after after the unveiling of the new and highly anticipated product in Paris on Sept. 30, 2014. Loic Venance—AFP/Getty Images

Speculation about Apple Watch launch date and new MacBook Air

Rumors are flying about the Apple Watch release date and a brand new MacBook Air.

The Apple Watch is expected to launch in March, with retail training of Apple employees scheduled for mid-February, 9to5Mac reported Tuesday, citing unnamed sources familiar with the smartwatch’s development.

Apple SVP Angela Ahrendts previously said the Apple Watch was scheduled to launch “in the spring,” following Chinese New Year.

There’s also a new, thinner MacBook Air rumored to be on sale around mid-2015, 9to5Mac reported Tuesday, citing unnamed sources from within Apple. The new laptop is speculated to be 12-in. across, and so thin that there won’t even be normal-sized USB ports. Apple reportedly refers to it as the “MacBook Stealth” internally because of its slimness.

[9to5Mac]

TIME Rumors

A Bigger iPad Might Be Coming Next Spring

An attendee inspects new iPad Air 2 during an Apple special event on Oct. 16, 2014 in Cupertino, Calif.
An attendee inspects new iPad Air 2 during an Apple special event on Oct. 16, 2014 in Cupertino, Calif. Justin Sullivan—Getty Images

A 12.2-inch iPad might arrive next year

A month and a half after the latest iPad release, rumors of a bigger iPad are already taking form.

A 12.2 inch iPad might arrive next year between April and June, according to a report by Mac Fan, a Japanese magazine that’s had a solid record of leaking supply-chain details.

The purported “iPad Plus,” rumored to be powered by an A9 processor with four speakers, would be three inches larger than the 9.7 inch iPad Air models, which are currently the biggest tablets Apple has in stock. The speculated 7mm thickness would place it in the middle of the existing iPad’s depths, which range from 6.1mm to 7.5mm.

Rumors of a larger iPad were abundant even before Apple unveiled its latest iPads, the iPad 2 and iPad Mini, in October. The Wall Street Journal reported in early October that a bigger iPad had been delayed to 2015 while Apple focused on supplying enough iPhone 6 devices to meet high demand.

 

 

 

TIME celebrities

Katherine Heigl Doesn’t Think That She Is Rude or Difficult to Work With

unite4:good And Variety Host 1st Annual unite4:humanity Event
Actress Katherine Heigl arrives at an event hosted by unite4:good and Variety in Los Angeles on Feb. 27, 2014 Axelle/Bauer-Griffin—FilmMagic/Getty Images

She was responding to a fan's question during a Facebook Q&A

Actress Katherine Heigl refuted allegations on Saturday that she is rude and difficult to work with, saying she hates confrontation but does not hesitate to stand up for herself.

“Nothing makes me more uncomfortable than confrontation or hurting someone’s feelings and I would never, ever actively do so on purpose.” Heigl said in response to a question from a fan during a Facebook Q&A on Saturday, People magazine reported.

“That doesn’t mean I won’t stand up for myself by drawing boundaries and asking to be treated kindly and respectfully,” the Grey’s Anatomy star added, “but I don’t do that with any rude or unkind intentions.”

The allegations were fueled in a recent Hollywood Reporter interview with Grey’s Anatomy creator Shonda Rhimes, who said: “There are no Heigls in this situation.” Rhimes was referring to the cast of her new show Scandal, saying she doesn’t put up with “nasty people.”

[People]

TIME Rumors

3 Things to Know About Apple Pay Ahead of Rumored Launch Date

Apple Pay iPhone 6
Apple

It might be coming Saturday

Apple Pay, the smartphone service that aims to replace those fussy old wallets with a one-tap payment system, may launch on Saturday, according to a leaked memo that appears to prep Walgreens store managers for the launch date.

A screenshot of the internal memo was posted to the website MacRumors on Saturday, raising a few questions:

Is this just a rumor?

For now, definitely. But there are a number of reasons to take this bit of information seriously. First, the memo is reportedly addressed to Walgreens “store managers,” which makes sense given that Walgreens is one of several major retail chains set to participate in the system’s launch.

Apple has already acknowledged the system will launch in October. While it has not specified the exact release date, the company does have an event scheduled for Thursday, an opportune time to make an announcement. If Thursday passes with no mention of Apple Pay, better to take this report with a few grains of salt.

Can I trash my wallet on Oct. 18?

Hang onto it, because the revolution will take time to catch on. Some 220,000 participating stores will be equipped to accept Apple Pay’s smartphone payments on the launch date, including Walgreens, McDonald’s, Duane Reade, Macy’s and Whole Foods. On the other hand there are upwards of nine million merchants in the U.S. that accept credit cards, or roughly 97% of stores that are still only able to accept payments in paper or plastic.

How will it work again?

Anyone who has an iPhone 6 or Apple Watch will be able to make a purchase by swiping the phone past any checkout counter equipped with Near Field Communication, or an NFC chip. A fingerprint will confirm the user’s identity and clear the purchase on a credit card that was preloaded into the system. The Verge created a demo video to show just how frictionless shopping could get.

TIME FindTheBest

3 Reasons Apple Needs to Make a Bigger iPad (and 3 Reasons It Doesn’t)

Compared to the iPhone 6 and Apple Watch speculation, the buzz surrounding Apple’s October 16 event has been as subdued as Tim Cook’s southern drawl. Yes, we’ll probably see new iPads, and rumor has it, they’ll be a bit thinner. They’ll likely have TouchID built in. And there’s a good chance they’ll have faster, A8 processors. In other words, set your iPhone 6’s alarm to wake you up once this sleepy, predictable announcement is over. You probably won’t miss anything.

Unless, of course, Apple announces a bigger iPad.

Here, the rumors are anything but mundane. Could we see a hybrid tablet-laptop like the Microsoft Surface? Would we we get a big, bright 4K display? And would a big iPad get a massive performance upgrade, more like a MacBook Pro than an iPad Mini?

With the rumors swirling, we set out to determine the pros and cons of such a launch. Is it the right move for Apple?

Here are three reasons for Apple to release a bigger iPad, and a corresponding counterpoint for each.

#1: People like big devices. Just look at the iPhone 6 Plus…

Apple may have waited seven years to do it, but in 2014, a big-screen iPhone was an obvious choice. At FindTheBest, we charted the mix of small- (under 4.5”), medium- (between 4.5” and 5.2”), and large-screen (over 5.2”) phones released each year since 2010:

At this rate, phones over 5.2” will make up half the market by 2015. It was time for Apple to jump in. Consider also that bigger phones tend to have better specs and higher scores from the experts. In the chart below, we plotted our Smart Ratings (which combine specs, features, benchmarks and expert review scores) against screen size:

As the screen size gets bigger, the phone gets better. This isn’t just a coincidence. Larger phones have more room under the hood for bigger, better components. So why not apply the same logic and make a bigger iPad?

…but the tablet market is a lot different than the smartphone market.

Plot the same data for tablets, however, and things quickly get muddy. Here’s the mix of tablets released each year since 2010 (small: under 9”, medium: 9” to 11”, large: over 11”):

While large tablets have seen a small resurgence in 2014, there’s no clear trend. Will giant tablets stay a niche item or mount a big comeback? It’s too early to say. Small tablets have certainly gotten more popular since 2010, but outside of that, the market remains murky.

And are bigger tablets better, by the numbers? Not really:

Add it all up, and a large tablet is simply a bigger risk than a giant phone. There’s no obvious market precedent, and the best tablets come in all sizes — not just big ones.

#2: You can charge a premium for big tablets…

If there’s one thing Apple loves more than promotional U2 events and aluminum unibodies, it’s profit margins. At FindTheBest, we looked at the average price, by size category, for over 1,600 phones and 750 tablets. We found one surprising standout:

Average base-model MSRP (no contract) for phones and tablets:

Small phones: $343
Medium phones: $368
Large phones: $397

Small tablets: $304
Medium tablets: $533
Large tablets: $899

Tablets over 11” tend to cost nearly three times as much as their mini-tablet counterparts, and more than any smartphone, even out of contract. Granted, a bigger, faster tablet will be more expensive to make, but Apple probably wouldn’t mind adding another option at the high-end. As Android and Amazon race to the bottom with sub-$200 tablets, Apple would be more than happy to win the $899 to $1,299 range. In tech, no one does luxury better (or more readily) than Apple.

…but there just aren’t that many big tablets, and they don’t seem to be selling particularly well.

Of the 750+ tablets we used to calculate the above averages, only 25 were over 11 inches, so we’re already working with a small sample size. And then look at sales. It’s tough to get an accurate breakdown from manufacturers, but consider that (as of this writing) you have to page through 50 different tablets on Amazon’s best seller list before you get to your first 12” tablet (the Microsoft Surface 3). iPads, small Amazon Kindles and 7-inch Android tablets are selling well. Big tablets are not.

So while that $899 base price point might look attractive at a glance, it’s based on a handful of niche products with (likely) mediocre sales.

#3: It’s the obvious (and only) place for Apple to go next…

In 2010, Apple made mobile devices in just two sizes (not counting iPods): a 3.5-inch iPhone and a 9.7-inch iPad. Jump ahead to 2014, however, and Apple has quietly created a run of six distinct size options, with a tidy increase of about 15%-20% in screen size per model.

FindTheBest

As long as these things keep selling, why not try the next size up?

…but how do we know the tablet isn’t just a fad?

Tablet sales are still growing, but they’re decelerating, according to research firm IDC. “The market is still being impacted by the rise of large-screen smartphones and longer than anticipated ownership cycles,” says IDC’s Research Director Jean Philippe Bouchard. IDC has been forced to revise its previous tablet growth estimates, while Best Buy CEO Hubert Joly told Re/code that tablet sales are “crashing” at the company’s brick-and-mortar stores.

Some commenters suggest that a deluxe, jumbo-sized iPad might be the solution to this problem—a tablet that can actually compete with PCs, task for task.

But what if the tablet’s slowing growth is just the beginning? What if the world is satisfied with a 6-inch smartphone, rather than a 12-inch tablet? And finally, what if Apple suspects all of this already, and that’s why its newest device isn’t a 12-inch tablet, but a 42-mm wristwatch? Only time will tell.

This article was written for TIME by Ben Taylor of FindTheBest.

TIME Social Networking

Facebook Reportedly Building a New App Where Everyone’s Anonymous

The plan marks a departure from company policy to have users disclose their identities or risk being booted from the network

Facebook plans to launch a standalone app that will allow users to mask their online identity, according to two anonymous company insiders speaking to the New York Times.

The two insiders, who divulged the plans to the Times on the condition of anonymity, said that the yet-unnamed app will allow users to sign up under a pseudonym, letting them engage in more candid discussions than they might otherwise have in public.

The report comes amid fallout from Facebook’s decision to boot several drag queens from the network for violating its naming policies by identifying themselves by their alter-egos rather than their birth names. Facebook quickly apologized for that move following intense backlash from several LGBT groups and other advocates.

Facebook’s anonymous app project is reportedly being spearheaded by Josh Miller, who heads the company’s “Conversations” group. Miller’s previous startup, Branch, attempted to foster intimate online discussions around shared interests. Facebook acquired Branch in January.

[NYT]

 

TIME ebola

Watch How Word of Ebola Exploded in America

Exclusive Twitter data shows how conversation about the virus has escalated dramatically

As Ebola has taken more lives and crept into more countries, the virus has come to dominate both news headlines and social media conversation. On Twitter, a whopping 10.5 million tweets mentioning the word “Ebola” were sent between Sept. 16 and Oct. 6 from 170 countries around the world. The map below, based on data TIME obtained exclusively from Twitter, shows how the conversation blew up in early October.

The country where Ebola dominates conversation most is Liberia, where the virus has already claimed more than 2,000 lives. In terms of sheer volume, though, most Ebola tweets are sent from the United States. Global conversation about the disease exploded after a Liberian man was diagnosed with the disease at a Dallas hospital on Sept. 30. On the night of Oct. 1, Twitter users were firing off missives about Ebola at the rate of more than 6,000 per minute, up from about 100 per minute before Sept. 30. Check out the heat map of Ebola tweets below to see how quickly talk of the virus spread following its arrival in the U.S.

Here’s a breakdown of the tweets per minute about Ebola over the last several weeks:

Research scientists who study the way we communicate on social networks borrow much of the terminology that’s used by health officials who are trying to control an epidemic. Internet users who pick up misinformation and false rumors are known as the “infected,” and they can infect others with every errant tweet or Facebook post. Much of what has been posted on social media about Ebola has been helpful—the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s illustrated tweet explaining how the virus spreads has been retweeted more than 4,000 times—but there have also been bogus rumors about Ebola reaching Idaho and an unwarranted panic after a passenger became sick on a flight in Newark, N.J.

TIME Innovation

Google Reportedly Working on Giant TV Screens

Visitors stand in front of a screen showing the most popular Google searches in Germany at that moment in the company's offices on Aug. 21, 2014 in Berlin.
Visitors stand in front of a screen showing the most popular Google searches in Germany at that moment in the company's offices on Aug. 21, 2014 in Berlin. Adam Berry—Getty Images

The idea is to be able to seamlessly connect smaller screens

Google is developing technology to allow users to integrate multiple screens to create giant television-like screens of variable shapes and sizes, sources familiar with the matter told the Wall Street Journal.

Former Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor Mary Lou Jepsen is leading the project, which is being developed in secret and has not been disclosed to the public. Jepsen previously led the project to create a cheap laptop that could be distributed widely in the developing world, an effort that failed to meet the high hopes surrounding it.

The ability to combine small screens to create larger ones would disrupt a market where prices increase dramatically with size. A 32-inch screen can retail for less than $1,000. A 110-inch screen, the largest manufactured, requires a custom order and can reportedly cost more than $100,000.

[WSJ]

TIME Gadgets

Last-Minute iPhone 6, iWatch and iPad Rumor Roundup

Michael Nagle -- Bloomberg / Getty Images

The rumors have been floating around for months and the big day is almost here.

Just as Apple’s made its bones by simplifying technology, let’s boil down the nearly endless supply of rumors to paint a general picture of what we might expect to see from the company’s September 9 media event.

The Event Will Be Streamed Live Online

This one is most definitely not a rumor, and it’ll result in the rest of these rumors either being proven true or laid to rest starting at 1pm Eastern on Tuesday, September 9 when Apple CEO Tim Cook takes the stage at the Flint Center in Cupertino, CA. Fun fact: Steve Jobs launched the Mac from the Flint Center 30 years ago.

You’ll be able to watch the event live online, broadcast directly from Apple’s site at Apple.com/Live. There will also be roughly 1.2 bajillion liveblogs of the event going on at the same time. Visit just about any tech site to follow along.

New iPhones

All signs point to two new iPhone models, a 4.7-inch version and a 5.5-inch version (current iPhone models sport 4-inch screens).

For those of you with small hands, there will reportedly be a one-handed mode that rejiggers the interface slightly so you can reach everything (Samsung has a similar feature on some of its larger phones). The 5.5-inch iPhone’s more expansive display may take advantage of apps in an iPad-like fashion by leveraging iOS 8’s upcoming dual-pane feature.

The phones will apparently sport slightly curvier designs than past offerings and support tap-to-pay features, up to 128 gigabytes of storage (current models max out at 64 gigabytes) and a built-in barometer that ties into health and location apps.

There’s no great consensus on launch dates for either phone, though it’s believed the 4.7-inch version might launch first, with the 5.5-inch version to come along later this year. For recent launches, new iPhones have typically been available within a couple weeks of being announced, so perhaps the 4.7-inch version would roll out sometime in September.

There have also been some rumblings about the phones packing nearly unbreakable displays made of sapphire crystal, but well-connected Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo believes the screens aren’t ready for such large displays. He thinks they’ll be present in Apple’s rumored iWatch line, though (more on that next).

The iWatch

Apple will reportedly be showcasing its long-rumored smartwatch, though it’s believed the device won’t be available for purchase until next year. Features apparently include a curved, rectangular screen made of impact-resistant sapphire crystal, tap-to-pay functionality, eight gigabytes of storage, health-tracking sensors and two screen sizes. It’s been reported that battery life might not be anything to write home about.

No word on firm pricing, though $400 has apparently been bandied about, with murmurs that pricing might not even be discussed at Apple’s media event.

New iPad Air

Alongside the new iPhones, Apple will reportedly be rolling out its followup to the iPad Air. It’s believed to be similar in design to the previous model, with the addition of a faster processor, the iPhone 5s’ fingerprint sensor and a gold color option. Apparently the iPad Mini line might not get a whole lot of attention but some models may get the fingerprint sensor as well.

Sources: 9to5Mac.com (here, here, here, here, here and here), New York Times, Re/code (here and here), Wall Street Journal, The Information, AppleInsider

TIME Rumors

Don’t Count the iPhone 6’s September 9 Debut Out Yet

The new iPhone line reportedly had a backlight engineering problem that goofed up the assembly process earlier this summer.

Reuters is reporting that Apple may be having difficulty prepping a sufficient number of screens for the next iPhone. Apple is expected to unveil the new line at media event on September 9. The problem, says Reuters, involves a “key” component that’s disrupting the production of the line’s new screens, rumored to be larger than the iPhone 5’s current four inches, and possibly come in two sizes.

More specifically, Reuters’s supply chain sources say the problem is with the backlight configuration in the new phones. Apple wanted to reduce the material used for the backlight from two layers to one in hopes of thinning the phones, says Reuters. But without that second layer, the phones apparently weren’t bright enough, which forced the parts back to engineering and held up the assembly process earlier this summer. That’s now impacting the number of screens Apple’s been able to produce in the ramp up to the unveiling, according to Reuters’ sources.

How many phones amounts to a sufficient number at launch anyway? I have no idea, nor does Reuters, but the news site defangs the issue somewhat by pointing out that its sources indicated the “hiccup” may or may not make it harder for you to get one of the new phones at launch or delay the phones outright. Thus we’re left to mull the possibility that there could be a launch availability problem, but with absolutely no idea of its magnitude, on a scale that runs from “catastrophic” to “irrelevant.”

Short of actually delaying the debut, which seems unlikely at this point–rumors of a September 9 event bubbled up just a few weeks ago, well after the June/July timeframe referred to in the Reuters piece–it’s unlikely we’ll know whether this story impacted the phones’ arrival. Availability issues have been a major part of every new iPhone launch, and a certain amount of scarcity–so long as Apple’s able to ramp up production to meet or surpass its fiscal projections in the long run–isn’t the worst problem to have. Sony’s PlayStation 4, for instance, which Sony claims was plagued by supply issues from launch, has gone on to sell 10 million units worldwide, a record-breaking figure even Sony can’t explain.

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