July is half over and still no sign of The Next iPhone.
The iOSsphere has been seething over conflicting rumors about when It will be announced, and released, about unbuttoning, panning, and the masses who still long for whatever it is Apple will be announcing soon or not so soon but, whenever, not soon enough.
First an award: This week's "Most Creative Use of Pure Puffery in Advancement of Rumormongery" goes to the TFTS website. The site ran a "story" about the fact that an iPhone 5, or iPhone5/4S, or a prop or a fake (it used all these terms) appeared in the hands of a fictional CIA spy in the USA Network show "Covert Affairs."
SLIDESHOW: Inside iOS 5
"Of course we wouldn't necessarily call a poor TV prop a source, especially one that's featured in a TV show that has nothing to do with reality," writes Chris Smith.
Of course we wouldn't necessarily let that stand in the way of writing a story about it, especially one that has nothing to do with reality. We're dealing with rumors, after all. TFTS even posted an image captured from the TV screen of this fake marvel.
So even though it has nothing to do with reality, it is at least a real fake.
"It's pretty clear that we're looking at an iPhone," Smith notes, missing his own point that it's a TV show prop. "We also have what appears to be an edge-to-edge display, a feature that's expected [i.e., rumored] to be part of the next-gen iPhone."
As he says, "That's definitely an odd choice for a product placement" and "one has to wonder whether Apple has approved this message in any way." One does indeed. Smith seems concerned, even outraged, that Apple would let this happen. "So how can Apple sit by and allow such a monstrosity to be shown on TV, especially since the next iPhone may very well have certain similar features to the one presented on 'Covert Affairs.'"
It says something about something that Smith or anyone else would notice a smartphone when the show's lead character, a novice CIA spy named Annie Walker, is played by Piper Perabo.
iPhone 5 is arriving: in fact, on Aug. 16.
Gekko, a British firm that specializes in retail sales optimization, posted an ad this week on behalf of its client Apple for "full-time iPhone Sales Staff for an exciting project to work 5 days a week (Tuesday-Saturday) for the period 16th August - 29th October within key retail stores."
And that can only mean one thing, according to CNET UK, which was sent a link to the job posting by a tipster: "It sounds as if Apple is looking to bolster its sales staff, and the only reason we can think is that there's a big product launch on the horizon."
And that, in turn, can only mean one thing: the launch of the iPhone 5. What could be bigger than that?
iPhone 5 is not arriving soon.
That's because the Magical A5 dual-core, Apple-designed CPU is overheating.
9to5Mac reports this rumor while encouraging readers to ignore it: "We're taking this one with a healthy dose of skepticism (and so should you) ..."
But "purely for the sake of the discussion" or page views, it reports, "Straight from Chinese-language site Sohu.com comes a story of an iPhone 5 delay blamed on the A5 chip overheating."
There's an "if" here: "If machine translation [i.e., the use of Google Translate] is to be believed, that's why Apple pushed back the next iPhone launch from the usual June-July timeframe into the late August-early September timeframe. The story has it that Apple's silicon team is facing difficulties keeping the dual-core A5 chip cool in the iPhone's tiny enclosure where space and battery are at premium."
Worriedly, 9to5Mac wonders, "If there's any substance to this story, what then (if anything) will Apple release come this Fall?"
That would be the mythical iPhone 4S, a "modest upgrade" to the current iPhone 4, designed to keep customers happy until the Apple chip boffins figure out how to make the cool chip actually ... cool.
Internally, AT&T confirms release date for iPhone 5. Kind of.
Here's the quoted portion of the purported AT&T memo: "All customers enrolling in MI must be advised of the pending MRC increase from $4.99 to $6.99 [...] This occurs on October 4, 2011, in conjunction with a new tier, Device Tier 3, that is $199. iPhone and other devices will move to this tier on October 4, 2011."
This is something most of us would just blankly pass over, but the keen minds at Uberphones plumbed the depths to read the tea leaves.
MI stands for "mobile insurance" and MRC stands for "mobile recurring charge." Admittedly, knowing that doesn't help much, either. But Uberphones says the memo "may have accidentally leaked the date" of iPhone 5, since it's widely expected to be announced in September (unless you believe other rumors; see above).
"This seems like quite a coincidence," according to Uberphones.
But we all know, we just know, that when it comes to Apple, there are no coincidences.
iPhone 5 may be almost completely unbuttoned.
Or at least you won't have to use them, buttons being so unvirtual.
The newest release of the iOS 5 beta release has an upgraded "AssistiveTouch" capability, as part of the platforms "accessibility" feature, according to 9to5Mac. But this has Big Implications.
"The feature takes the previously available custom gesture support to the next level and brings a new control panel," the website says. "This control panel is an accessibility feature -- but also has applications as a replacement for the iPad and iPhone's hardware buttons."
A swipe activates the control panel, causing what the story calls a "heads-up-display type of menu" to appear. With that menu, a "user can rotate the screen orientation, control the device's volume, 'shake' the device (is an API for developers in applications), lock the display and more.
"We realize that this is an accessibility-feature, but this is something that can come in handy for just about anybody. Apple has started to wean off the need for home button usage for iPad users, and this accessibility-feature can technically turn into a replacement for all of the iPad's (and iPhone/iPod touch's) hardware buttons."
iPhone 5 panoramic camera will require manual intervention!
Gadget site T3.com says it dug up more details in the iOS 5 beta code that show how the phone's expected panoramic camera will work. The panoramic feature was first noted after Apple unveiled iOS 5 in June.
The latest beta code reveals that to use this photo enhancement, "users will need to pan their device from left to right, 'tap the Camera button to begin' and 'keep the arrow on the center line.'"
Next: detailed instructions on how to pan from left to right.
Spreading the magic: iPhone 5 for Sprint and T-Mobile users.
Having deigned to released iPhone 4 on Verizon this year, Apple might be equally gracious to the remaining NotQuiteAsBig Two mobile networks.
"While we remain uncertain regarding the next-generation iPhone's specs and features, we believe the most noteworthy change could be the device's ability to run on more networks, specifically Sprint and T-Mobile in the U.S," said Piper Jaffray stock analyst Chris Larsen, in a research note reported on by CNET.
"A move to all four national carriers would greatly expand Apple's ability to reach the masses, critical at a time when smartphones running on Google's Android software have overrun the market," according to CNET. "Adding Sprint and T-Mobile would increase Apple's addressable market by 30 percent, Larsen said."
Speaking of the masses, Apple plans to sell 25 million iPhone 5 units in 2011.
So that would be in the three- to five-month period that the phone actually is on sale, depending on which availability date you like (see above).
This estimate comes from a Wall Street Journal story via iPhone5Released.com. The Journal cited "unnamed sources at Apple's suppliers," one of whom said "Apple's sales estimates of the new iPhone is quite aggressive. It told us to prepare to help the company meet its goal of 25 million units by the end of the year. The initial production volume will be a few million units ... we were told to ship the components to [Taiwanese] assembler Hon Hai [technically, its Foxconn subsidiary] in August."
The website says Apple sold 3 million iPhone 4 units in the first three weeks of its release last year and in the most recent quarter, sold 18.65 million iPhones, including some number of older 3GS models.
Missed our last iPhone rumor roll-up? Catch up here.
John Cox covers wireless networking and mobile computing for Network World.
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