Taking a look back at another week of news from Cupertino, this week’s Apple Loop includes the impossibly thin iPhone 7 design, the potential of a new iPhone Pro with dual camera lens support, Apple’s latest patents for magnetic headphones and flexible circuits, the failure of Connect to evolve, a look at Apple’s Campus 2 construction, the earthquake that nearly stopped the iPhone 7, and why your snoozed alarm defaults to nine minutes.
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.
Jony Ive’s stylish focus on thin could be having a negative impact on the iPhone 7. Reports from the supply chain suggest that the new handset will have a thickness of 6.3 millimeters… one millimeter less than the iPhone 6S. That’s great for the fashionistas, but not great if you are looking for something useful… like a battery. That’s not the only thing missing from the leaks, as Forbes’ Amit Chowdhry reports:
Previously, there were rumors that the iPhone 7 was going to be waterproof. Mac Otakara’s sources claim that this is not true. This is a disappointment because the Galaxy S7 is IP68 dust-proof and water resistant so the upcoming Apple flagship smartphone device will be less durable than the new Samsung flagship. This means Samsung may be able to retain or gain a customer base that prefers rugged devices.
Smaller battery and may not be waterproof… Is Apple looking to be the exact opposite to Samsung’s Galaxy S7? You can read more on the leaks here.
That’s assuming that September’s next generation iPhone will be called the iPhone 7. Given the news that March’s four-inch screened device that will sit lower in Apple’s portfolio is dropping the ’5′ moniker to be known as the iPhone SE, Apple’s naming strategy could point to a new and interesting identity:
…the new flagship iPhone due for release in September. We’re all expecting this to be called the iPhone 7. But the loss of the dating numbers in the iPhone SE, the naming convention employed on the iPad, and Tim Cooks apparent drive to simplify the portfolio and marketing could point to another name.
I would not be surprised to see the next iPhone get something just as simple, clean, and functional as the rest of the updated portfolio. Apple should hand its next smartphone a clean name that can stand alongside the iPad, the iPad Pro, and the iPhone SE.
Can Apple’s marketing team launch an iPhone Pro and keep the focus on the rest of the portfolio?
If you are keeping track, that gives Apple the iPhone SE in March, the iPhone 7/Pro and the iPhone 7S/Pro in September. But why stop at three? A secret fourth iPhone could be released this year, and Gordon Kelly has the low-down on a potential image-focused iPhone:
Consequently the three iPhone 7 models will be the 4.7-inch iPhone 7, 5.5-inch iPhone 7 Plus and a new and even more premium model based around (already huge) Plus which some are dubbing the ‘iPhone 7 Pro’. What’s the difference between the Pro (I’ll go with the name for now) and the Plus? A groundbreaking camera. In fact, I should say groundbreaking ‘cameras’ because Kuo says the iPhone 7 Pro will use a dual-lens camera system created by LinX, an imaging specialist Apple purchased in 2015.
…So why is Apple doing it? It must think either a) LinX technology is so impressive customers need to see it and be blown away, or b) it will cover for limitations in Apple’s standard camera technology which fell behind Samsung’s Galaxy S6, especially as the gap is about to widen further with the Galaxy S7.
Samsung’s imaging advantage is going to be a vital weapon for the South Korean company, and with the launch of the Gear360 camera it’s going to extend that lead over Apple, especially if the Galaxy S7 family can easily defeat the iPhone 7 family in a straight shoot-out. So why not have a ‘special team’ camera phone? Is maintaining an air of superiority with the fragmentation of the iPhone line?
The latest round of patents issued to Apple point to some interesting potential hardware choices for future devices. With the likely removal of the 3.5mm stereo headphone socket, the patent for a ‘detachable wireless listening device’ could be something seen by consumers. A pocketable bluetooth receiver is connected to Apple earbuds, with a magnetic breakaway connection in the cable. Mikey Campbell for Apple Insider:
Crucial to Apple’s invention is a magnetic attachment mechanism that connects the listening device (earbuds and accompanying cable) to the host cord for battery recharging and wired audio signal transmission. When the earbud-side cord becomes detached, the system can be programmed to detect the state change, automatically pause the charging process and activate wireless communications. The ability to free one’s headphones from a bulky host device provides a host of benefits, not the least of which being freedom to move without fear of getting wrapped up in wires.
Meanwhile, I took the time to look over Apple’s patent for flexible screens and circuitry and screens. We might not see a curved iPhone, but these changes offer something even more important… protection and ruggedness:
I could see Apple switching to ‘flexible’ circuitry and screen technology before that point, even if there is no curve in the iPhone design. As technology gets smaller, the ability to absorb impact damage is reduced. As a great many people are quoted as saying, ‘it’s not the fall that kills you, it’s the sudden stop at the bottom that does the damage.’ By working flexible circuits and screens into the iPhone, the stress of an impact no longer needs to be focused through a fixed point into unyielding element. Wear and tear Incidents like #bendgate would likely be reduced as well.
Last year, New York based musician Dave Wiskus was not happy with Apple Music’s social network Connect. His blog post attracted a lot of coverage and a personal email from Trent Reznor to assure him his concerns were being addressed). It’s now eight months later, and Wiskus returns to his blog to discuss what has changed. Nothing has changed.
As far as I can tell, there have been no changes to Connect since it launched. I haven’t heard any murmurs from behind the scenes about interesting things happening. Aside from my support emails the last I’ve seen or heard from anyone about Connect was that email from Reznor. Apple Music Connect feels abandoned.
The world of sharing music is comically fractured right now: We can post songs to SoundCloud the minute they’re ready, but we get paid nothing. We can submit songs for digital distribution and get onto Spotify and iTunes, but we have no way of engaging with our audience. We can talk to fans on Twitter, but any media we share has to be hosted someplace else. Apple is in a unique position to unify and democratize the music business. Connect could be that platform.
Compared to the love and attention that the OS updates receive, the focus on improving hardware, and focusing design on the customer, it looks increasingly like Connect is a misfire.
Apple and U2 (image: Apple.com)
Apple continues to work on its ‘Campus 2′ headquarters, and Apple Insider has provided the latest look at the building through the strategic use of a drone and some ariel photography. The glass roof is mostly finished, and HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) systems are being covered by solar panels:
The distinctive Campus 2 project is so large it can be easily spotted from aircraft, as shown in our March update video. Also clearly visible is the project’s grand cafeteria area with a dramatically high ceiling, the first segment of the structure to begin rising back in March of 2015, just one year ago.
Also depicted are the white fin-like sun shields that will ring the building at each floor level. The structures also function as part of the building’s fresh air ventilation system, which will enable it to run without heating or air conditioning throughout most of the year, taking advantage of the very comfortably mild weather that blesses Cupertino, California.
The Earthquake That Nearly Stopped iPhone 7
Is there a way to stop the presumptively named iPhone 7? How about an earthquake? A recent 6.4 magnitude earthquake near the Taiwanese city of Tainan impacted production at TSMC, the chip manufacturer that (amongst other orders) is believed to be the sole supplier of the A10 SoC destined for the iPhone 7. The impact was ‘less than 1% of output’ but the warning signs are there. Forbes’ Jonathan Webb looks at the potential impact of another quake.
Taiwan is now a major center for semi-conductor production. In a region prone to disaster, it seems as though the drive for lean may achieve lower prices in the short term, but may prove costly in the future.
Apple’s supply chain managers opted for a sole supplier strategy. The benefits may produce lower cost and enhanced innovation, but should a disruption occur, it would completely wipe out production. The iPhone 7 may not be so lucky next time.
Ever wondered why the snooze feature on your iPhone defaults to nine minutes? Nic Lake provided one possible answer on a recent Quora thread, and the roots of the answer are down to historical gearing on clocks:
Early clocks and watches had gears that made it difficult to set a snooze for *exactly* 10 minutes. So they aimed for *less than* 10 minutes, aka 9 minutes. Was a pretty standard thing till the 50s.
Then, when digital clocks came about, it was much easier to code in a 9 minute snooze. All they had to do was take the last digit of the previous alarm (say, 5), subtract 1 (now 4), and set the new alarm to go off the next time that number came up. So, 6:45 –> 6:54, and so on.
So there you go, it’s a homage to a wind-up clock.