Tech Columnist Ewan Spence published an article on the Apple Loop.
Taking a look back at another week of news from Cupertino, this week’s Apple Loop includes a new look at the rumored iPhone 8 design, facial recognition without Touch ID, Apple’s augmented reality vision, the new iPhones released this week, more product updates, Apple ignoring the MacBook portfolio, research centres opening in China, and Apple’s purchase of Workflow.
APPLE LOOP IS HERE TO REMIND YOU OF A FEW OF THE VERY MANY DISCUSSIONS
Apple Loop is here to remind you of a few of the very many discussions that have happened around Apple over the last seven days (and you can read my weekly digest of Android news here on Forbes).
Is ThIs The Design of The iPhone 8
First up is a look at the potential design of the iPhone 8. Once you take into account the current leaks and rumors, expected hardware, and design cues, there’s enough information to make n educated guess at what the iPhone 8 will look like. CGI artist Oscar Luna Martinez has done just that.
Martinez highlights the significant reduction in the bezel sizes, as well as the edge-to-edge nature of the display and the vivid nature of the OLED screen that increases the brightness and colors available over the current range of LCD screens on the iPhone. And to finish, it’s unlikely that Apple will return to the Clownfish wallpaper, but it is a nice touch to show the ’decade in the making’ nature of 2017’s new iPhone
Oscar Luna Martinez
Is This My Owner I See Before Me?
With Apple expected to significantly reduce the size of the bezels and remove the physical home key, the biometric security functionality present in TouchID may be augmented with new technology. AppleInsider’s Malcolm Owen picks up on a new patent that illustrates one method of doing this with facial recognition:
The core idea of the patent is that an iPhone uses the front-facing camera to detect and recognize the user’s face, unlocking the device if the face it sees belongs to the authorized device owner… if the iPhone has been motionless for a period of time, and the camera cannot see the user, it can automatically lock. The reverse is also possible, namely if the iPhone starts moving and the facial recognition detects the user’s face, it can be unlocked without needing to enter a PIN or use Touch ID.”
More at Apple Insider.
Looking At The World Differently
If you assume that augmented reality is the future of consumer electronics, then the entry of Apple into the space will be seen as a key moment that legitimizes a space looking for a champion. Long time Apple analyst Mark Gurman looks at the evidence that Tim Cook is pivoting towards this new way of looking at the world:
Investors impatient for Apple’s next breakthrough will be happy to know that Cook is very serious about AR. People with knowledge of the company’s plans say Apple has embarked on an ambitious bid to bring the technology to the masses—an effort Cook and his team see as the best way for the company to dominate the next generation of gadgetry and keep people wedded to its ecosystem.
Apple has built a team combining the strengths of its hardware and software veterans with the expertise of talented outsiders, say the people, who requested anonymity to discuss internal strategy. Run by a former Dolby Laboratories executive, the group includes engineers who worked on the Oculus and HoloLens virtual reality headsets sold by Facebook and Microsoft as well as digital-effects wizards from Hollywood.
Naturally “Apple declined to comment.” Read more at Bloomberg.
Brand New iPhones For 2017
Apple has refreshed the iPhone portfolio this week with new color options for the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus, and a bump in storage options for the iPhone SE. While the addition of the Product (Red) colour branding on the flagship smartphones is a first, there are no technical changes. The iPhone SE on the other hand now makes a lot more practical sense.
Where Apple did make a specification change to its iPhones, however, was the introduction of an upgraded iPhone SE. Here Apple ditched the 16GB and 64GB models in favour of 32GB and 128GB options while retaining the same $399 and $499 price points.
While many would have hoped to see further upgrades to what is arguably the best value iPhone the company has ever released (particularly the front facing camera), the good news is it means Apple has finally ditched the awful 16GB storage tier across its entire range.
All The Rest Of Apple’s Updates
As for all the other updates, Daring Fireball’s John Gruber has a smart summary, including the tweaks to the iPad line up and naming conventions:
Looks like the supply chain rumor mill was almost entirely wrong about new iPads. No new iPad Pro hardware at all. Just a no-adjective 9.7-inch “iPad” to replace the iPad Air 2. It’s a nice update for the budget-conscious: the new iPad has a brighter screen and an A9 instead of an A8 chip, and costs $70 less. As predicted, Apple is clearly putting the “Air” brand out to pasture.
No Love For The MacBook Pro?
Unlike the new iPhones, iPads, and Apple Watch straps, Tim Cook and his team failed to update the MacBook line-up this week. The iPhone 7 only saw a new cosmetic option in Product (Red) but at least it had some love and some extra marketing power sprinkled over it. Not the laptops.
The only potential change on the horizon for the MacBook machines would be the updated Kaby Lake processors for Intel – but I suspect this change will be held off until October this year to reinforce the idea that the Mac range is on a yearly update cycle just like the iPads and iPhones of Apple’s World.
The current MacBooks and MacBook Pros have been on the market for less than a year, but the same is true of the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus. Even if a specifications bump couldn’t be found in any of the machines – and how hard would it be to at least offer a model with 2 TB of SSD storage? – the laptops are denied even a cosmetic update to join the almost as old smartphones with some Product (Red) branding. I think that a tweak in the production line to allow a MacBook with a deep red bezel and keys on a single SKU would be a great look.
More of my thoughts on the snub here on Forbes.
More Chinese Knowledge Required
China is seen by many established manufacturers as ‘the next growth market’ while western countries remain saturated. Apple has focused heavily on China in recent years, and has announced two more research centres in the country to boot that effort, joining existing centres in Beijing and Shenzhen.
The announcement comes as Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook undertakes his latest trip to a country that ranks as Apple’s single biggest overseas market. Apple said it plans to build new research facilities in the eastern Chinese cities of Shanghai and Suzhou, on top of centers already slated for Beijing and the southern city of Shenzhen. It also pledged to spend at least 3.5 billion yuan ($507 million) on research institutions.
All four centers will open later this year, the company said in a statement on its Chinese website. They will help Apple cooperate with local partners and attract talent from its local suppliers as well as from top educational institutes, according to its press release.
More on this story at Bloomberg.
When Apple purchases a company, you need to pay attention. So the news that automation tool Workflow is now part of Cupertino’s direct empire is important. The scoop goes to Matthew Panzarino:
Apple has finalized a deal to acquire Workflow today — a tool that lets you hook together apps and functions within apps in strings of commands to automate tasks. We’ve been tracking this one for a while but were able to confirm just now that the ink on the deal is drying as we speak… It shares some similarity with the service IFTTT, in that it allows people to group together a bunch of actions that can allow them to perform complicated tasks with one tap. It had built up a sizeable number of users and downloads over the past few years.
More at TechCrunch, and if you want to pick up Workflow Apple has made its new app a free download on the App Store.
Apple Loop brings you 7 days worth of highlights every weekend here on Forbes. Don’t forget to follow me so you don’t miss any coverage in the future. Last week’s Apple Loop can be read here, or this week’s edition of Loop’s sister column, Android Circuit, is also available on Forbes.