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Rumor Roundup, Episode 7: Screen size matters

Though it was far from being a slow week for real news in the Apple sphere, the fact that WWDC is just over the horizon means the rumor scene has kicked into high gear. So many rumors came out this week that I've broken them down by product category for our latest edition of the Rumor Roundup.

The biggest star this week was the supposed next-gen iPhone, but the mythical Apple HDTV wasn't far behind. Oddly enough, I didn't see a single rumor about the "iPad mini" this week, marking the first time in months that I haven't seen someone opining on that hypothetical/nonsensical device.

Speaking of nonsensical devices:

Apple HDTV

55" Apple LCD TV for about $2,000 seen as matter of 'when,' not 'if' (AppleInsider)

Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster says the Apple HDTV is definitely going to debut someday. But as anyone who pays even modest amounts of attention to Apple rumors should know by now, Munster has been saying the same thing for years. Munster seems to be operating on the principle that if he keeps saying it, he'll eventually be right.

B.S. detector reading: 9/10. Gene Munster has been spouting certainty-tinged speculation about the Apple HDTV for so long that it's no longer worth taking him seriously on the subject. Every time I see Munster's name associated with the Apple HDTV, it just reminds me of the final chapters of Moby Dick when Ahab's first (and often only) words to passing ships at sea are, "Hast seen the whale?!" All I'm saying is, don't be surprised if a long-bearded and bedraggled Gene Munster lets out a mighty bellow and hurls a harpoon at the Apple HDTV if it ever debuts onstage.

Foxconn reportedly begins taking orders for the Apple TV (BGR)

Apple reportedly manufacturing test batch of first smart TVs (AppleInsider)

Though the names of their overseas sources vary, both BGR and AppleInsider are beating the same dead horse drum: The Apple HDTV is being built right this very second. At least that's what those notoriously reliable Chinese newspapers are saying.

B.S. detector reading: 9/10. In case you didn't pick up the sarcasm in the preceding paragraph, Asian news sources are in fact notoriously unreliable when it comes to Apple. Both BGR and AppleInsider try to cite supposed remarks from Foxconn's CEO as evidence of "prior art" in this rumor chain, but both sites rather conveniently ignore that those remarks were debunked by a combination of investigation, clarification from Foxconn, and common sense.

Apple to demo new TV OS at WWDC in two weeks (BGR)

"A trusted source" claims Apple will demo a new version of the Apple TV OS at WWDC.

B.S. detector reading: 3/10. The grid-style UI that debuted with the third-gen Apple TV only a few months ago is very evocative of the iOS homescreen, and I don't think that's a coincidence. The Apple TV seems ripe for exploiting the third-party app ecosystem, and a large number of WWDC sessions are listed as "To Be Announced" in terms of their subject matter.

Unfortunately, BGR's analysis goes off the rails in speculating that "Apple's HDTV" will run this OS, prompting a revised B.S. detector reading of 7/10.

If Apple were building an HDTV, I'm sure it would run essentially the same OS as the standalone Apple TV box. And if my grandmother had wheels, she'd be a wagon.

Mac

Now I'm very confident there will be another Mac Pro (Marco Arment)

The creator of Instapaper, Arment also devotes a fair amount of time to remarkably levelheaded analysis of the Apple scene. Arment notes that Jim Dalrymple of The Loop, another excellent source of brain-damage-free Apple analysis, has said there's no chance Apple will discontinue the Mac Pro.

B.S. detector reading: 0/10. Jim Dalrymple is like the anti-DigiTimes; if he says something about Apple with this level of confidence, you can put money on it. Well, you can if gambling is legal where you live, anyway.

On The Possibility Of An Apple Standalone Camera (iLounge)

A source that iLounge itself admits is somewhat sketchy claims Apple is investigating developing its own point-and-shoot camera.

B.S. detector reading: 9/10. The point-and-shoot camera market is in a death spiral. It has been for years, and the reason rhymes with "Bly phone." The best camera is the one you have with you, and the iPhone 4S camera that's probably in your pocket right now is a great substitute for all but the high-end point-and-shoots.

Entering the standalone camera market at this stage makes about as much sense as selling Apple-branded 5-disc CD changers. Of course, Apple has had a foot in the standalone digital camera market before with the unexceptional QuickTake line -- but the company's not headed back there.

Production ramp of Apple's next-gen MacBooks creating labor shortages in China (AppleInsider)

According to DigiTimes, blah blah yadda yadda phhhbbbbttt.

B.S. detector reading: Off-scale high due to using DigiTimes as a source. AppleInsider is one of the few sites left that's still shameless enough to source from DigiTimes after the pummelling the "sometimes reliable" source took both here and elsewhere in the blogosphere a few weeks back.

Because DigiTimes claims there's a labor shortage in China, the safe money is on Chinese unemployment reaching record levels within a week of publication. If DigiTimes were to say the sun will rise tomorrow, I'd buy every single flashlight in town.

New MacBooks coming in June, next-gen iPhone launching this fall according to report (BGR)

Some guy says the most obvious and risk-free thing any analyst has said all year. For reasons unknown to anyone but this analyst and BGR, it's news worth repeating.

B.S. detector reading: 0/10 -- but seriously, no points awarded. You want the real inside scoop on Apple? A new iPad will come out in 2013. It will have features the current iPad doesn't have. BREAKING EXCLUSIVE STOP THE PRESSES.

iPhone

9to5 Mac posted enough new information about the supposed next-gen iPhone that I'm starting to wonder how much longer it'll be before an Apple employee leaves one in a bar. Between leaked faceplates and rear casings, supposed hardware references in a beta version of iOS 6, and alleged output from a debugger of the prototype phone, an image of the next iPhone is starting to emerge. If these "leaks" (with varying degrees of believability) are true, the next iPhone will be a device with a 16:9 aspect ratio screen as its central differentiator from previous versions.

Over the past couple weeks, a storm of rumors has swirled around the topic of the next-gen iPhone. Thus far the consensus is the device's screen will grow from its current 3.5-inch diagonal dimension to 4 inches, and it'll switch aspect ratios from the current 3:2 ratio to a more widescreen 16:9. However, these rumors have been around for well over a year, and they failed to materialize in 2011 when the iPhone 4S kept precisely the same dimensions as its predecessor.

B.S. detector reading: 4/10. Along with schematics and video evidence of a new faceplate, there's enough physical evidence here to give even a skeptic like me some pause. Rumor sites rarely bother with evidence; their stock in trade is usually the he-said/she-said of supply chain leaks, Asian newspapers, and daydreaming analysts. When physical evidence like this surfaces, however, it's a lot harder to dismiss out of hand than the usual rubbish.

The standard cautionary caveat is that all this evidence could have been faked, but past leaks from similar sources have borne fruit. At the very least, it's nice to see rumors that are even halfway plausible for a change. Unfortunately, that will be short-lived...

Apple's next iPhone expected to consume 70% of high-res LTPS screen supply (AppleInsider)

According to DigiTimes -- I stopped reading whatever came next.

B.S. detector reading: Off-scale high due to using DigiTimes as a source. If AppleInsider went even one week without sourcing from the Site that's Never Right, I'd start to worry that maybe the Apocalypse really is coming in December.

Apple's iPhone dives deeper into prepaid this September (BGR)

An "unnamed source" claims the iPhone will be available on Boost Mobile later this year.

B.S. detector reading: 10/10. Hilariously, this rumor was debunked within less than a day of hitting the web. Journalistic credibility: Where you at?

iOS 6

Befitting the march toward WWDC, a number of this week's rumors surrounded the next major revision of iOS. They're presented below in decreasing order of legitimacy, based on where the rumor originated from.

After Years Of Flirting, Facebook And Apple Set To Achieve Relationship Status In iOS 6 (TechCrunch)

MG Siegler's sources claim Facebook integration will be a major feature of iOS 6. The depth of that integration isn't revealed, but it's likely to be along the same lines of the Twitter integration introduced in iOS 5 in 2011.

B.S. detector reading: 1/10. Reports from last year claimed Facebook integration was coming in iOS 5, and the only reason it didn't was because talks between the two companies broke down. Like it or not, Facebook is a huge slice of the online world, and it has deep hooks into many iOS apps -- even the ones it doesn't develop. Facebook integration makes good sense, and Siegler's sources are usually reliable.

Let's all hope with the greatest of fervor that Facebook's integration into iOS 6 is programmed with greater care than Facebook's own iOS app.

Apple's new iOS 6 Maps app with 3D mapping is coming this summer, and we have photos (BGR)

A "trusted source" gave BGR screenshots of what may represent the new Maps functionality in iOS 6. These screenshots appear extremely similar, if not identical, to the 3D mapping Apple acquisition C3 Technologies has demonstrated in the past.

B.S. detector reading: 4/10. Multiple sources have claimed new mapping technology will be a major feature of iOS 6. Apple's dependence on Google Maps has been an increasingly odd holdover from the long-lost days when the companies were bosom buddies; now that they're direct competitors in the mobile space, it's logical for Apple to divest itself from as many of Google's services as it can. Some have even speculated that Siri, which bypasses Google for much of its functionality, was an important first step in cutting the Google cord.

At least one entity seems to think Apple has something up its sleeve in the mapping space; Google itself announced an event relating to a revolution in its mapping service, to debut a few days before WWDC. Absolutely no one in the tech sphere thinks this is a coincidence.

iOS 6 to feature redesigned iTunes Store, App Store, and iBookstore (9to5 Mac)

"Sources familiar with Apple's upcoming iOS 6" claim Apple's online stores will be redesigned for iOS 6, with "major overhauls" in the stores' interactivity.

B.S. detector reading: 6/10. Any time the words "familiar with" are a part of the source's alias, it sends the B.S. detector into spasms. The apps in question dish up most of their features from remote servers; Apple has been known to update these apps on the backend in the past, so it's as yet unclear why it would need to wait for a major OS update to push out these updates. The fact that this supposed overhaul is sketched out in only the very broadest of terms also doesn't do much to quell the whiff of B.S. from this story.

'Greatly enhanced' iOS Maps, upgraded Camera & Photos apps expected at WWDC (AppleInsider)

An analyst makes the same claims as everyone else regarding updated iOS maps, then throws in some vague assertions about the Camera and Photos apps alongside sketchy rumors of new Macs.

B.S. detector reading: 8/10. The analyst in question has been wrong far more often than he's been right, which one of our commenters noted the last time his name was brought up. For that reason alone I'm taking his "analysis" with a large grain of salt. And a lime. And a shot of tequila. Bring me another; leave the bottle.

That's it for this week's rumors. Given that Apple's yearly developer conference is just a week away as I write this, it's an easy bet we're going to see a gargantuan maelstrom of rumors over the next several days. Before you decide to play Vegas odds on any rumor, though, consider the source. If it's a site that's still citing DigiTimes, consider switching to the slot machines instead. The Vegas slots pay out about as rarely as DigiTimes, but at least you get free drinks.

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