Apple Rumor Patrol: iPhone Plus, HBO Go On Apple TV, And... New Interfaces?

Hope you like your morning news with a heaping side of Apple—because there's plenty of it.

HBO Go On Apple TV

Bloomberg has stirred up excitement about Apple's TV plans again by saying that Apple is in deep discussions with HBO to bring its streaming service HBO Go to the Apple TV. The Go service is already available to owners of other Apple device like the iPad, who also subscribe to HBO, so the move to include an Apple TV portal for HBO Go would seem technologically simple and comes with a good business precedent.

Rumors about Apple's push into television tech just won't go away. Most recently there's been confirmation that an updated version of the "hockey puck" Apple TV set top box is on the way, with updated internal specs and possibly a smaller size. But while speculation remains rife that Apple's en route to releasing a full-fledged TV set, there's no hardware evidence leaking yet.

Next-Gen iPad's Screen

Sources inside Apple's supply chain are already talking about the next edition of the full-sized iPad. Specifically there's a rumor that Apple will switch to supporting the same sort of thin-film touch screen system as used in the iPad mini. The panels will come from LG and Sharp and the move will enable a shallower profile for the iPad, thanks to the thinner screen sandwich than the iPad currently uses.

It's a very plausible argument, and we think there's a grain of truth inside this rumor—at least in terms of the thinner display. However it's always possible Apple would go for an alternative touch tech, such as the in-display circuitry it uses in the iPhone 5.

The iPhone Plus, The Plastic iPhone

Bigger, smaller, cheaper...the rumors about the next iPhone iteration are all over the scale. Now esteemed Apple developer and blogger Marco Arment has weighed in to support the idea of a new iPhone with a bigger screen—he calls it the iPhone Plus. The idea is that a bigger iPhone could use the same screen resolution as a standard iPhone, but offer bigger visual area and thus compete against the giant-screened Android units, and even against Android "phablets" (yes, we hate that word too). Arment makes a compelling point. But will Apple go for it? That's a complete mystery.

Meanwhile there's another rumor that Apple's going to be making a plastic-shelled iPhone this year in an attempt to appeal to cheaper markets. The idea is that a plastic iPhone is cheaper to make and build than a glass and metal one, and Apple could capitalize on the same production-line efficiencies it uses to sell the iPhone 4S at a low rate alongside the iPhone 5 to sell the iPhone at really low prices. Considering how smartphone growth is exploding in emerging markets, there's a great opportunity here.

And since new reports suggest Apple's now the number one phone vendor in the U.S. for the first time (perhaps), maybe Apple feels the time is ripe to tap other markets' potential.

A New User Interface?

New information says that right at the end of 2012 a Canadian company called Maya-Systems Inc. sold some of its patents to Apple. The 18 patents in question cover Maya's "axis-based user interface," which is said to be far ahead of rival UIs from competitors.

These sorts of "axis" file navigation systems are different to the traditional folders/files structure we've become used to because they let you line up an array of files by subject rather than a notional location on a folder tree. This means you can list files by type, or by age or by the app they're linked to, and quickly zoom along the axis to find the one you're looking for. Exactly what Apple has in mind for this IP is unknown, but it does have a history in championing unusual file access systems such as the visually pleasing Cover Flow system. Maybe Apple will use the IP in its iCloud plans, or even in OS X.

[Image: Flickr user booleansplit]

Chat about this news with Kit Eaton on Twitter and Fast Company too.

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