The iOSphere wheezed this week, trying to breathe new life into limp rumors. It pretty much failed.
One of the Oracles of Wall Street reaffirmed a June date for the Next iPhone, as good as guess as any. You can rest easy: Your fingers probably won't be chopped off by thieves stealing your iPhone 5S and needing your fingerprint to unlock it. Watch out with iPhone 6 though.
[ TABLETS: iPad 5 rumor rollup for the week ending March 26 ]
Also this week: an iPhone with AppleBerry Messenger, and a vaporous promise that iCloud will fuel Apple's innovation tidal wave ... if they can get data syncing to work right.
You read it here second.
iPhone 5S will be announced in June
Gene Munster, the Apple Oracle of Wall Street, predicted in a recent TV interview that Apple will announce its next iPhone in June, and in September will announce a cheap iPhone "targeted for emerging markets."
The June iPhone will be the "iPhone 5S" and Munster says it will have a better camera, improved CPU, and, um, "new software features tied into the hardware," according to CNET's Lance Whitney, who was one of many who repeated Munster's comments, made during a Bloomberg interview.
9to5Mac's Jordan Kahn focused on Munster's comment that, in Kahn's summation, "Apple will not have any major product announcements until June and likely miss its June guidance with lower-than-expected iPhone and Mac sales."
"In other words, the Retina iPad mini he [previously] predicted would launch in March -- not happening," Kahn writes.
Fortunately for everyone, if an analyst or blogger simply persists in predicting new product release dates, he eventually gets it right.
iPhone 5S won't have fingerprint detection, so don't worry about thieves chopping off your fingers to access your phone
Ubergizmo's Tyler Lee leveraged another Munster Mention, this time about fingerprint detection for the iPhone.
In his post, Lee says that Munster claims that the fingerprint sensing technology will be introduced not on iPhone 5S in 2013 but on iPhone 6, in Q1, 2014.
"Fingerprint security sounds like a pretty solid way of securing your devices, although after watching countless movies, thieves may not only steal our phone, but could end up chopping off one of our digits as well," Lee writes. "Pretty scary stuff, right?"
Right you are, Tyler.
Perhaps that's why he's a bit skeptical. "We're not sure what the fingerprint sensor could do, or if it is even needed, but we guess it could give Apple an advantage in the enterprise and government sector if they could offer not just more secure software, but hardware as well," Lee writes.
Of course the absence of fingers would make it more difficult for enterprise and government sector workers to actually hold the iPhone 6, let alone use it.
iPhone 6 will run AppleBerry Messenger
The iOSphere is agog over news that Apple received a patent for a mobile instant messaging invention that sounds just like BlackBerry Messenger service, which is BlackBerry's popular IM feature to create quick, easy, free messages to one or more fellow BlackBerry users using their PINs.
"Believe this: Apple just patented BlackBerry's BBM app for iPhone 6!" shouts the headline at Emirates 24/7.
"According to the US Patent and Trademark Office, the instant messaging patent is for 'a portable electronic device with a touch screen display [which] displays a list of instant messaging conversations including a group conversation,'" explains Emirates 24/7's Vicky Kapur. "If it sounds incredibly close to BlackBerry's BBM service, that's because it is, or so we think."
Apple: innovating by imitating. Which sounds better than "ripping off."
That's often a bad sign, creating the sneaking suspicion that the writer doesn't really understand what the patent is saying. By copying and pasting, you at least can't be accused of being, you know, wrong.
For example, everyone is quoting this bit from the "Abstract" section of the application: "The group conversation includes a first multi-recipient identifier and a group conversation indicia." But no one bothers to explain what a first multi-recipient identifier or group conversation indicia actually are.
It's probably just like BlackBerry Messenger. Only different.
iPhone 6 will "innovate" cloud services ... somehow
Jonny Evans, who writes the Computerworld Apple Holic blog, tries to make the case that iPhone 6 will herald a breakthrough in Apple's software services via iCloud. He's basing his case on the idea that cloud services are undoubtedly important to Apple's future mobile offerings, rather than on specific knowledge of Apple's plan.
The result is a rather odd blog post, dubbed "iPhone 6 innovates cloud services."
Evans reasons that Apple's efforts to sue smartphone rivals back to the Stone Age over smartphone hardware patents is too difficult, so the company will apparently rely on software patents. But then, you have to have software patents that you can then ... sue over, apparently.
"Following this logic it becomes strategically evident that the company will seek to differentiate its products by offering software-based features and services that will be unique to its platforms," he writes.
Like we said, odd.
Evans quotes Apple CEO Tim Cook about how the cloud is a game-changer; he notes that "Apple has been quietly developing iCloud services" without any specifics; that "Eddy Cue's iTunes team is thought to be negotiating to offer streaming music and movie services," though that might be more of an iTunes extension rather than a cloud innovation; that "Siri and Maps development continues," again without specifics, and so on.
It's not that he's wrong about this stuff. It's just vaporous.
And Apple's biggest cloud challenge -- before introducing Way Cool Cloud Services -- may be just getting the darn thing to work.
The Verge's Ellis Hamburger this week had a lengthy post headlined, "Apple's broken promise: why doesn't iCloud 'just work'?" He rounded up and summarized a series of blog posts by developers, and interviewed others, who have been stymied by iCloud's propensity to lose data or disrupt the syncing process when relying on the Core Data sync service.
"Nearly two years later [after iCloud was announced], customers demand iCloud integration more than ever from third-party developers, but it's a total mess to implement," Hamburger writes. Just one example is this excerpt from a frustrated blog post by Daniel Pasco, CEO of development studio Black Pixel, which as looking to iCloud to provide sync services for its NetNewsWire app: "iCloud hasn't worked out for us. We spent a considerable amount of time on this effort, but iCloud and Core Data syncing had issues that we simply could not resolve."
"iCloud apparently chokes hard on the databases it's supposed to be so proficient at handling," Hamburger summarized. "From a user perspective, this means that despite a developer's best efforts, data disappears, or devices and data stop syncing with each other."
The frustration is especially sharp because app users, who don't typically make use of the Core Data sync function, see iCloud just as Apple portrays: simple to use and reliable. AgileTortoise developer Greg Pierce told Hamburger: "One key thing to understand is that user's perception of iCloud's functioning is largely based on apps that do not use Core Data for their sync."
iOS 6 offered important and badly needed improvements, according to the developers who talked with Hamburger. But much, much more needs to be done, they said.
Ars Technica's Jacqui Cheng stepped off from Hamburger's post with additional reporting. She got this assessment from Bare Bones Software's Rich Siegel: "In concept, the service is pretty simple. A central iCloud server holds the truth: the canonical version of the user's data for an app. As the user manipulates an app's data, iCloud tracks and reconciles the changes into the central truth and makes sure that all copies of the data, on each computer, are brought up to date. In order for this to work, though, a lot has to happen behind the scenes. What we casually refer to as iCloud is many parts, each with a role to play."
The other pungent frustration that emerges from these comments is Apple's almost complete lack of communication with developers about these issues.
So if iCloud is indeed a strategic direction for Apple and a wellspring of future innovation, Apple will have to prove it to the developers who are supposed to rely on it.
John Cox covers wireless networking and mobile computing for Network World. Twitter: @johnwcoxnww Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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