A Reliable Source emerges this week to whisper sweet nothings in the quivering ear of the iOSsphere. Expectations flame.
This week, Chinese worker bees are ready to flip the switch on iPhone 5 assembly lines and that tells us when Apple will release it; a breakthrough camera technology is so awesome it has to be in the Next iPhone; Apple execs ponder what's in a name; and a debate on buttons.
You read it here second.
"With this kind of technology, it's no wonder that analysts have imagined it being included on the iPhone 5." -- Michael Nace, The iPhone 5 News Blog, on why every technological breakthrough logically will appear in the Next iPhone.
iPhone 5 ready for production, due for summer launch
That's the word "from a reliable source at Foxconn in China," where the iPhone is assembled, according to Seth Weintraub, writing at 9to5Mac. The iPhone 5 is "gearing up for production."
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Mr. Reliable reveals that "various sample devices are also floating around (they vary slightly from one another), so it is impossible to tell which one will be the final." But later, Weintraub indicates that "various" apparently means "two."
Regardless, Mr. Reliable tells Weintraub that these samples:
+ have 4-inch or larger screen; + are not teardrop-shaped but are "symmetrical in thickness (also longer/wider);" + nevertheless do not have the iPhone 4/4S form factor; + and, "neither" one is the final version.
"]B]ut what is important to note here," notes Weintraub, "is that iPhone 4S production did not gear up until late spring of last year. If we follow patterns and give a five month-ish lead time, it would appear that Apple is back on its new iPhone launch for summer/WWDC pattern that it maintained until last year."
Incredibly, the headline at ITProPortal baptized Mr. Reliable, without any justification whatsoever, as an "official source."
Not everyone is as enchanted by Mr. Reliable as 9to5Mac. John Gruber, commenting in his Daring Fireball blog, had this to say:
"Seth Weintraub: We received word from a reliable source at Foxconn in China that the iPhone 5, as it is currently being called, is now gearing for production.
"No it's not.
"No teardrop-shaped devices, as rumored in the lead up to the iPhone 4S. Samples so far have been symmetrical in thickness (also longer/wider).
"Longer and wider? Sounds like b******t. I can see Apple putting a bigger display on a device of the same size. I can't see them making a bigger device."
iPhone 5 will have such an awesome camera that we can't explain it
The iPhone 5 News Blog picked up on a general 9to5Mac story about Steve Jobs having a chat with the CEO of a cool startup, Lytro, that makes a camera using some far-out technology that neither blog seems to really understand, or at least explain.
"iPhone 5 enthusiasts are hearing more about Lytro camera technology," writes Michael Nace, of The iPhone 5 News Blog. "Will Apple equip the iPhone 5 with Lytro, or go with the new Sony camera sensor?"
Nace inadvertently reveals one of the central dynamics that drive iPhone 5, and iPad 3, rumors. "With this kind of technology, it's no wonder that analysts have imagined it being included on the iPhone 5," he writes. If it's awesome, how can it not be in the Next Whatever?
We couldn't find dimensions for the Lytro camera, but here's a picture that shows fitting it into any current or future iPhone would qualify as a "radical" redesign. And the price tag, ranging from $399 to $499, would radically redesign the iPhone in another way.
9to5Mac built its story on two points: Lytro's technology (which you can try to follow at the company's website) and a brief passage from an upcoming book about Apple, describing a brief meeting between Steve Jobs and Lytro CEO Ren Ng. Even Nace notes, "While Apple and Lytro never forged any kind of partnership or licensing agreement, Steve Jobs reportedly picked their brains over the technology, and was incredibly excited about its possibilities."
And so, clearly, is the iOSphere.
And then after all that buildup, Nace topples it like a house of cards. "In spite of Jobs loving Lytro, however, it is still more likely that the iPhone 5 will debut with the new Sony 8MP camera sensor we wrote about recently," he concludes. Partly because Lytro "is still a relatively bulky technology that isn't at all suited to the ultra-thin trend that the iPhone 5 form factor seems to be moving toward."
If he'd just made that point at the beginning, we'd have been spared another rumor about another rumor.
iPhone 5 will be named ... iPhone 5
Must be a slow rumor week over at Beatweek.com. The Beatweek staff posted a story with the headline "iPhone 5 is sixth generation, but likely to retain '5' moniker."
"If the iPhone 4S is the fifth generation iPhone, then what is the iPhone 5? That's the question for Apple marketing execs to chew over from now until the device's launch later this year, as their upcoming sixth generation smartphone has already been popularly branded 'iPhone 5' even as a handful of skeptics point out that such a moniker would be outside of standard naming conventions."
It's so easy to imagine the anguish of Apple's marketing execs, hands pressed to their heads, moaning, "Oh woe! What are we to do? What will we call it? If we call it 'iPhone 5' all those skeptics will point out that it's outside of standard naming conventions. Oh woe. What would Steve do?"
Next week: rumors that iPhone 5 has been delayed due to internal conflict over naming conventions.
iPhone 5 will have NFC
Power Retail thinks "Rumours That iPhone 5 Will Support NFC Ring True."
And that's because there's actually a foundation in fact, as reported by Power Retail's Campbell Phillips: "Visa confirms it is in discussion with Apple to include NFC technology in the next version of the iPhone, but it may still be months away. ... There is light at the end of the tunnel after all for iPhone users, Bill Gadja, the Global Head of Mobile Product says."
This is almost shocking: a real person, with a name and a title and company affiliation, offers an opinion.
"I can't tell you when Apple is going to put NFC in the next version of the iPhone," Gadja told business magazine Fast Company, "but we've had discussions with them around the PayWave standard and they've asked to look at our specification and certification process so that when they do decide to do something those lines of communication are open."
iPhone 5 will have a physical camera button because it really needs one
Technically speaking, Matthew Panzarino's thoughtful story at The Next Web, "Why the iPhone should have a dedicated physical shutter button," is an argument for the button, not a rumor about it.
But we're shortcutting the iOSphere rumorization process of linking to a post and then extending it: "Will iPhone 5 have shutter button?" and then "iPhone 5 expected to have shutter button" and "Sources say iPhone 5 have shutter button" and finally "iPhone 5 likely to have shutter button."
In any case, Panzarino, the news and Apple editor for TNW, clearly has given this some thought. His basic argument is that the current position of the rear-facing camera and the use of the volume button as the shutter button makes for an awkward, unstable and suboptimal shooting experience.
Instead, he wants a grip that looks like this, where an index finger can just naturally press a dedicated button, and the grip keeps the whole thing steady. His hope: Apple is positioning the iPhone as your primary everyday camera, and the dedicated physical shutter button will be a big step toward that goal. And he notes the new Nokia 800 has come to the same conclusion.
Not everyone is persuaded. In the comments section to the post, artysx writes, "iPhone doesn't need camera button, it's not a step forward - more like 10 back. There is no need in this paradigm [to] 'hold your phone like a real camera' any more, it's over."
Get used to it.