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Apple’s 2015 Lineup In Rumors: Who Was Right, Who Was Wrong

With iPhone, iPad, and Apple TV announcements out of the way, let’s see how good the rumor mill was at spoiling surprises.

Apple’s 2015 Lineup In Rumors: Who Was Right, Who Was Wrong
[Photo: courtesy of Apple]

Despite Apple CEO Tim Cook’s vow a few years ago to “double down on secrecy” with unreleased products, the rumor mill has done an admirable job of spilling the beans.

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That much was evident on Wednesday, when Apple announced several new products, the secrets of which were largely reported ahead of time. Thanks to the unnamed sources whispering to 9to5Mac, BuzzFeed, and others, we knew plenty about the new iPhone 6s, iPad Pro, iPad Mini 4, and Apple TV going into the event.

Nonetheless, Apple managed to keep a few details to itself, and if there’s a pattern here, it’s that rumormongers tend to do better with hardware–probably due to leaky supply chain sources–than with the finer software details that make still make Apple’s events entertaining to watch. Here’s what the Apple rumormongers got right, and where they went wrong:

iPhone 6s

Apple’s best-selling product seemed to be the most widely–and accurately–rumored of the bunch. Most of the details we rounded up in our Apple rumor tracker turned out to be correct, and the only major flub was speculation that “iPhone 7” might be the product name. (In fact, Apple’s product tagline, “The only thing that’s changed is everything,” plays on the notion that “s” upgrades are merely incremental.)

What it actually has:

What the rumor mill missed:

  • It’s not called the iPhone 7 (Kuo)
  • “Live Photos” auto-capture video just before and after the picture (Unreported)
  • iPhone 6s Plus optical image stabilization for video, not just photos (Unreported)

Apple TV

On paper, Apple TV rumors fared well, the biggest mistake being a report of just 8 GB or 16 GB of storage, rather than 32 GB.

But a lot of what makes Apple TV interesting lies beyond the spec sheet. For instance, Siri’s ability to narrow down a genre search when you say “just the latest episodes” is something other set-top boxes currently can’t do. Same goes for MLB At Bat’s split screen viewing and 60 frames per second broadcasts, taking full advantage of the new Apple TV’s power.

What it actually has:

  • A touchpad remote (New York Times, TechCrunch, 9to5Mac)
  • Motion controls for gaming, like a Wii remote (TechCrunch, 9to5Mac)
  • A Bluetooth remote, but with an infrared signal for controlling other A/V equipment (9to5Mac)
  • Siri for navigating the entire system (9to5Mac)
  • Siri search across apps (BuzzFeed)
  • Gaming as a major focus, plus third-party controller support (9to5Mac)
  • tvOS resembles the current Apple TV layout, but with iOS 9 / OS X El Capitan aesthetics (9to5Mac)
  • A proper App Store and software development kit (BuzzFeed, 9to5Mac)
  • No 4K video (BuzzFeed, 9to5Mac)
  • Apple A8 processor inside (BuzzFeed)
  • At least 32 GB of storage (BuzzFeed, which merely said “well beyond” 8 GB)
  • A taller design than the current Apple TV (9to5Mac)
  • Pricing that starts at $149, with October shipping (BuzzFeed, 9to5Mac)

What the rumor mill missed:

  • The battery is built in, not replaceable (9to5Mac)
  • Storage starts at 32 GB, not 8 GB or 16 GB (9to5Mac, which had it right in an earlier rumor)
  • Six physical remote buttons, not two (New York Times)
  • Optical audio output is gone (Unreported)
  • Additional remotes will be sold for multiplayer gaming (Unreported)

iPad Pro

Apple’s extra-large tablet proved trickiest for the rumor mill, as details on the integrated keyboard and stylus remained a mystery right up until Wednesday’s announcement. Even the iPad’s presence didn’t seem likely until 9to5Mac threw out a flurry of rumor posts in the week before the event. In that sense, it’s impressive we knew as much as we did going in.

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What it actually has

What the rumor mill missed

  • No $100 increments for more storage, just $150 extra for 128 GB (9to5Mac)
  • Stylus is not bundled, costs $99 extra (9to5Mac, which later changed its mind on this one)
  • No USB ports, just Lightning and new Smart Connector (Wall Street Journal, AppleInsider)
  • No Force Touch display (Ming-Chi Kuo, AppleInsider)
  • The new Smart Connector for keyboards (Unreported)
  • The wraparound nature of the integrated keyboard (Unreported)
  • The “Apple Pencil” product name, or its 12-hour battery life (Unreported)
  • Thickness of 6.9 mm, weight of 1.57 pounds (Unreported)

iPad Mini 4

The rumor mill didn’t pay much attention to Apple’s smaller tablet, but then again, neither did Apple. In a packed keynote, the iPad Mini 4 barely got a mention, which makes sense as it’s basically a thinner, more powerful version of last year’s iPad Mini 3.

What it actually has:

  • 6.1 mm thickness, 203.2 mm length, 134.8 mm height (OnLeaks)
  • Improved display with anti-reflective coating (MacOtakara)

What the rumor mill missed:

Apple Watch

Apple didn’t announce entirely new versions of its smartwatch, but did make some improvements on the fashion front with new watch bands. The rumor mill saw this coming, but lacked some of the finer details.

What it actually has:

  • New metal finishes, revealed to be gold and rose gold Apple Watch Sport models (New York Times, 9to5Mac)
  • New range of Sport bands (9to5Mac)

What the rumor mill missed:

  • New band colors in lavender, antique white, stone and midnight blue (Unreported)
  • New black Sport band option for Space Black Apple Watch stainless steel version (Unreported)
  • Black and saddle brown Classic Buckle options for the stainless steel Apple Watch (Unreported)
  • New premium watch bands and exclusive watch face in partnership with Hermes (Unreported)

If there’s a common thread with this year’s Apple rumors, it’s that none of the most reputable rumormongers reported anything too wild and unbelievable–and none of them ended up looking foolish as a result. And while even the biggest publications made mistakes, overall they gave us a good idea of what to expect in September so we can plan our midyear buying decisions accordingly.

About the author

Jared Newman covers apps and technology for Fast Company from his remote outpost in Cincinnati. He also writes for PCWorld and TechHive, and previously wrote for Time.com.

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