All posts in “Rumors”

Apple’s top-secret wireless AR/VR headset sounds crazy powerful

Here we go again. Another report, this time from CNET, claims Apple is working on a combo AR/VR headset that could launch as soon as 2020.

The tech site corroborates previously reported details on the top-secret headset such as its “T288” codename and purported use of a custom Apple chip. But the most interesting thing is its alleged performance. It sounds like it could blow away every existing AR/VR headset.

Up until now, we’ve only heard whispers of what Apple’s AR/VR headset might be like. But if CNET’s report is accurate (and nothing changes in the next two years), Apple could out-muscle current VR leaders such as Oculus and HTC.

Apple’s T288 headset is said to support both AR and VR apps. Most impressive is the resolution it reportedly packs: an 8K display per eye, for a total resolution of 16K. That would be an insane amount of pixels.

To put that into perspective, the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive only have 1,080 x 1,200 resolution per eye, barely meeting full HD. Startup Pimax successfully funded a Kickstarter for the world’s first 8K VR headset, but has yet to ship any product to backers.

Of course, if Apple were to successfully release a headset with such high resolution, it’d solve a number of issues current headsets suffer from such as the screen door effect and motion blur.

For now, it isn’t real and nobody should get too excited for vaporware.

Besides the ridiculously high-res screens, the headset would also be wireless. CNET says Apple is exploring 60GHz WiGig, a high-speed wireless protocol capable of transferring lots of data quickly. One of the most annoying things about high-end VR is that it requires a cable tethered to a powerful PC. Apple’s headset could fix this.

Additionally, the headset might be powered by a new custom 5-nanometer chip (the iPhone X uses a 10-nanometer A11 Bionic chip). Apple has been designing its own chips for years, starting with the iPad’s A4 chip in 2010, and the silicon now powers all of its iOS devices, Apple Watches, AirPods, HomePods, and has even made its way into some Macs. It’s a no-brainer the company is looking to power its AR/VR headset with its own chips.

Of course, none of this stuff matters if customers don’t care. AR and VR have been hyped for years, but have yet to gain mainstream traction. Sure, there’s the occasional AR hit such as Pokémon Go and the VR hit such as Audio Shield, but both virtual platforms can hardly be described as must-have  right now.

And if Apple has learned anything from the HomePod, it’s that customers may not even appreciate high-end technologies if good-enough alternatives exist.

Not to mention, we’re skeptical Apple would ever release a headset that supports VR. Apple CEO Tim Cook has said on many occasions he thinks AR is better than VR because it’s not as isolating of an experience. Apple’s chief design officer Jony Ive is also not keen on putting a computer on your face.

We’ve no doubt Apple is spending a good amount of money on R&D for this rumored headset, but we’ll believe it when it launches. Just like the company’s “Project Titan” self-driving car project, this headset could be scrapped by the time 2020 rolls around. For now, it isn’t real and nobody should get too excited for vaporware that exists merely as prototypes in Apple’s lab.

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An Amazon HQ2 clue? Strange web traffic hints at interest in this one county

Web traffic could provide a clue as to future commuter traffic from Amazon's HQ2.
Web traffic could provide a clue as to future commuter traffic from Amazon’s HQ2.

Image: Moment Editorial/Getty Images

The county board members of Arlington, Virginia might be doing a happy dance right about now, because it looks like Amazon is researching the shortlisted “Northern Virginia” area as a possible location for its second headquarters, HQ2.

Thanks to some seriously top-notch sleuthing from local news source ARLnow.com, the outlet figured out that one of its articles was receiving an unusually high amount of traffic from an internal page featured on Amazon.com — one that is not visible to the public.

The article Amazon employees were viewing? A December 2017 article about Arlington’s environmental building accolades. The piece, entitled “County Wins Top Environmental Award from U.S. Green Building Council,” received over 6,000 page views and 3,500 unique visitors who were referred from an Amazon web page that cannot be reached normal public. The page is presumably only available to Amazon employees through an intranet.

Perhaps Amazon employees are checking out the green qualifications of a potential new home?

In January, Amazon announced a shortlist of candidates for its new HQ2 campus, which it says will bring thousands of jobs, and economic upsides a-plenty, to whichever city Amazon selects. Washington D.C. and two D.C. adjacent areas (Northern Virginia, VA and Montgomery County, MD) snagged three of the coveted spots, and there has been much speculation that Jeff Bezos has his sights set inside the Beltway. Arlington, VA is encompassed in Northern Virginia.

In its RFP for HQ2, Amazon emphasized its energy efficient and green building design preferences, saying it “will develop HQ2 with a dedication to sustainability.” Amazon did not specifically list building sustainability in its section on “Key preferences and decision drivers” — but it did list “site/building” opportunities among its top criterion. So given Amazon’s stated commitment to sustainable buildings, Arlington’s environmental policies, and its development of buildings that get a U.S. Green Building Council stamp of approval, could give it an edge.

Directing loads of Amazon employee web traffic to one article obviously doesn’t seal the deal for the new Amazon HQ2 — who knows what other articles and cities employees are checking out.

But hey, it’s definitely not a bad sign. Plus, who doesn’t love solving an internet mystery. Kudos, ARL Now. Kudos.

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Future iPhones might ditch your fingerprints completely, making creepy Face ID the norm

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Apple introduced a new biometric security feature, Face ID, with the iPhone X. The public hasn’t had a chance to try it out (if you haven’t been paying attention, the X doesn’t actually drop until Nov. 4) — but it’s probably just the first in a long line of Apple products that’ll use facial scanning.

Face ID might be coming to all future versions of Apple’s smartphones according to a new report from reliable Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo. Kuo wrote in an investors note provided to 9to5Mac that the company could totally abandon the Touch ID tech used in iPhones since the 5S in 2013 in favor of the new facial scanning system as early as next year.  

Kuo wrote that the new camera system behind Face ID, TrueDepth, is enough of a consumer incentive for Apple to move beyond Touch ID going forward. He called TrueDepth a “key selling point” for the next generation of iPhones, concluding that Apple will likely introduce the system across its product line to “capitalize on its clear lead in 3D sensing design and production for smartphones.”

This new insight settles the matter Kuo discussed in a report last month, when he wrote that Apple would likely wait to gauge consumer response to the new biometrics before totally ditching Touch ID. Kuo also predicted that premium next-gen iPads will adopt the TrueDepth system, which makes sense if Apple wants to position the camera and the features it enables as the top-level experience. 

But the market for the Touch ID-sporting iPhone 8 has been temperate as fans bide their time for the X (although others disagree). With the pent up demand for the X in mind, Apple might have bumped up the timetable for the decision to bring Face ID everywhere. 

This type of wide-scale adoption leaves the fingerprint scanners of the future in the lurch. Apple’s solution to keep the home button Touch ID with a bezel-free, edge-to-edge display was long rumored to be a display-embedded fingerprint scanner. 

Apple went in a different direction with the X – but other smartphone makers, most significantly Chinese company Vivo, are still rumored to be working on next-gen embedded fingerprint scanners. Kuo believes that other companies will embrace 3D facial scanning tech due to Apple’s influence and the high costs of developing the embedded scanners, which could doom the thumbprint scan in the long run.     

The TrueDepth system is rumored to be one of the main reasons that the X is delayed, and some people aren’t too keen on the idea of Apple constantly scanning their face. Still, FaceID looks like one of the main draws for the highly anticipated iPhone X. 

We can’t say for sure if the company will actually be saying goodbye to Touch ID forever with the next round of iPhones, since this is just a rumor — but if the X works as well as advertised, our faces could replace our fingerprints for good. 

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Steve Jobs would hate this rumored iPhone accessory

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Apple took a page out of Samsung’s design book with an edge-to-edge OLED screen for the iPhone X — and if a recent rumor is true, the Cupertino company might adopt another staple of the Note line for iPhones in the not-so-distant future. 

iPhones could be given a stylus-type accessory as soon as 2019, according to a rumor from “industry sources” provided to the Korea Herald and picked up by MacRumors. Apple engineers are reportedly already at work on a device for the iPhone in the same vein as the Apple Pencil, which has been compatible with iPad Pro tablets since 2015. 

The sources claim Apple is “in talks” with several companies that could partner to make the pens. The device will likely be a “supercapacitor” type stylus, which is cheaper than the electro-magnetic resonance technology Samsung employs in the Note line that requires panels underneath the phone’s screen.  

Revered former Apple CEO Steve Jobs was vehemently against a stylus for the iPhone, famously mocking the idea when he unveiled the first version of the device a decade ago. 

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But Apple has broken from some of Jobs’ doctrine since he passed in 2011, and he notably walked back some of his own lofty declarations even while he was alive. Jobs was against phablets too — and now the Plus versions of the iPhone are an integral part of Apple’s smartphone strategy.  

Apple is rumored to introduce a massive 6.46-inch iPhone next year, which could be the perfect launching point for a stylus to ramp up productivity. The big screen phones have been around for a few years now, and bumping the size could serve as a justification for what would likely be a pricy add-on.

We can’t say for sure whether we’ll be writing notes on our iPhones in two years, since these are just early rumors, but one thing is for sure: If we do get an iPhone version of the Apple Pencil, Jony Ive & Co. had better recreate the sublime design perfection of the Apple Pencil Case, Mashable correspondent Jack Morse’s favorite thing in the entire world.   

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OnePlus 5T with an edge-to-edge screen could be coming real soon

The OnePlus 5 is still one of the best values in Android of 2017.
The OnePlus 5 is still one of the best values in Android of 2017.

Image: raymond wong/mashable

Inventory for the OnePlus 5, the best value for a premium Android phone, have reportedly dried up. All models of the phone are listed as out of stock on the company’s website, which could mean a revamped model is on its way.

According to a report from GizmoChina, OnePlus might be preparing to launch the OnePlus 5T, a redesigned version of its 2017 flagship with a larger edge-to-edge display to better compete with phones like the iPhone X, Galaxy Note 8, and Google Pixel 2

It would seem odd for a company to release an updated version of its phone so soon — the OnePlus 5 launched to rave reviews only four months ago — but it wouldn’t be an unprecedented move.

Last year, OnePlus replaced the OnePlus 3 with the 3T less than half a year after its release, and it didn’t appear to hurt the company or its bottom line.

When I asked OnePlus’s head of marketing Kyle Kiang why it was launching the 3T so quickly after the 3, he told me the company’s small size and scrappiness means it doesn’t need follow annual launch cycles. It launches new products when they’re ready, and if that means it’s sooner than fans expect, then so be it.

The report claims the new 5T might come with a larger 6-inch 18:9 aspect ratio display with curved edges. The screen’s resolution might also finally get a bump up from 1,920 x 1,080 to 2,160 x 1,080. That makes it higher-resolution display than the OnePlus 5’s, but still short of the crisper displays Samsung and LG use in their flagship phones.

Not else is known about the purported 5T, except that it might resemble a Galaxy S8 with slim bezels above and below the display:

Depending on how you like your phones, that’s either extremely flattering or disappointing.

When OnePlus launched the 3T, it included a slightly faster processor, better front-facing camera, and larger battery. It’s possible a 5T could include improvements beyond the screen. What’s likely to remain is the dual camera system on the back, which enables Portrait mode like on the iPhone 8 Plus.

And if the 3T is any indication, the 5T could also cost more. OnePlus built its brand allegiance with premium design and specs with affordable pricing, but it’s already shown that it’s not against hiking prices with each new device. Even if you don’t like the higher pricing, OnePlus’ phones still usually cost hundreds less than competitors. With Samsung and Apple’s best phones now at the $1,000 price range, OnePlus has plenty of wiggle room between $500-$1,000.

We’ve reached out to OnePlus for more information on the OnePlus 5’s out-of-stock status.

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