Apple Rumor Patrol: Screen Mania, Skinny MacBook Pros, And iCloudy Delights

It’s looking more and more likely that pretty much every new Apple device is going to be sporting a “retina” screen and be skinnier, more powerful, and swifter than its predecessors. Oh, and Siri will get cleverer too.



The iPhone’s 4-Incher

We’ve often suspected that the Wall Street Journal is an “official” leak source used by Apple to seed the media with slightly more directed rumors about its upcoming products. And now the WSJ has chimed in on the four-inch iPhone screen rumor and said yes, that it’s indeed true … Apple’s buying screens in large numbers from suppliers and these are for an “at least” a four-inch display, with the phone going into production in June.

So far, so promising. But Reuters has since chimed in and said its sources have agreed with the WSJ and that a 4-inch iPhone is on its way. Why so much excitement about such a seemingly secondary feature of a smartphone? Because it marks a design departure for Apple and sets the scene for Apple’s rivals–some of whom have already been pressing for bigger and bigger displays as a unique selling point for their Android phones. A bigger screen will also make the iPhone better as an e-reader (threatening Amazon’s market somewhat) and as a glossy display for mobile app magazines…potentially giving a boost to this industry as well.

iMacs, MacBook Pros, and Even Airs To Get Retina Screens

The iPhone 4 brought the “retina” screen to the world’s attention–a display with pixels so dense that you actually can’t resolve the individual pixels with your weak, fleshy human eyeball, thus making displayed text look like printed quality and photos and images even more astonishing. The iPad 3 carries a similarly massive number of pixels and is probably better than every computer screen you’ve ever used. And that’s why Apple’s now said to be bringing retina displays to a revamped line of MacBook Pros, iMacs, and even its svelte MacBook Air, according to 9to5Mac.

The processing power to run these displays fits easily into the bigger chassis of the iMacs and MacBooks, but fitting it into the super-skinny Airs will take a little longer and may require Apple to use its proprietary battery power tech so that the ultra-portable machines still deliver long battery life. For this reason, we might not see them revealed at the same time as the bigger machines and they may not get much of an external design overhaul.

Skinny MacBook Pros

This is now looking like a dead cert: Apple’s prepping its Air-inspired new MacBook Pros for a reveal at the upcoming WWDC event. They’ll be ultra-thin, may come with a bias toward solid-state hard drives, and may not contain a DVD drive inside. They will be powered by Intel’s new chips, Ivy Bridge, and they may also sport ultra-fast USB 3.0 tech alongside the Intel-Apple Thunderbolt port. 


iOS 6 And iCloud

iOS 6 is the next revamp of Apple’s mobile operating system, and it looks like Apple’s in advanced testing phases of the software because it’s starting to show up in online analytics, as Apple’s staff put it through its paces.

iOS 6 may well arrive alongside a revamped iCloud, which will include all sorts of new features like notifications on the website and more sophisticated web apps in general. It’s also now thought that iCloud will get a video streaming feature so video clips can be shared around a household the way photos are in PhotoStream and that Apple will boost its photo-sharing system with the ability to comment and to share photos to other iCloud users. That sounds an awful lot like a photo-centric social network, and could explain why Apple ws rumored to be interested in buying Instagram.


Alongside the iOS 6 and iCloud update, Apple’s also said to be revamping Siri, its cloud-service voice recognizing personal assistant. Siri has inspired many rivals and comes in for a lot of criticism, despite the fact that Nuance–the firm behind its voice-recognition tech–says it set a new high bar for understanding the human voice. With an update, Apple may lay many criticisms to rest because it’s said to be coming to the iPad too and also, according to Daring Fireball to include an API so that other apps can interact with Siri, and be controlled by it. That means you may be able to get GPS navigation instructions, send a tweet, and maybe even launch and play games or other apps by voice control alone.

[Image: Flickr user bgarciagil ]

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I'm covering the science/tech/generally-exciting-and-innovative beat for Fast Company. Follow me on Twitter, or Google+ and you'll hear tons of interesting stuff, I promise. I've also got a PhD, and worked in such roles as professional scientist and theater technician...thankfully avoiding jobs like bodyguard and chicken shed-cleaner (bonus points if you get that reference!)