By Jim Karpen on Tue, 12/03/2013
We have many months to go before a new iPhone launches, and already there are rumors aplenty, a number of which I've reported here. Minyanville has helpfully collected the rumors to date in a single post. The most frequent rumor may be that the iPhone 6 will have a larger screen, with sources saying that Apple is testing iPhones with 4.7-, 4.9-, and 5.5-inch displays. I think it's likely we'll see a larger iPhone next year. All the other rumors seem to have less credibility but aren't without substance. It's been rumored that the iPhone will have a curved display, perhaps similar to the picture of the Samsung Galaxy Round that accompanies this post. See my earlier post for more detail on why such a display may be useful.
Several rumors reported by Minyanville relate to Apple's purchase of PrimeSense, a company that developed the gesture-recognition technology used in devices such as Microsoft's Kinect. Apple must have something in mind, given that they plunked down hundreds of millions of dollars for this company. But what and when? My impression is that it typically takes them a bit more time to integrate technology they purchase into their product line and that it won't be ready for the iPhone 6. Minyanville suggests Apple could use PrimeSense's technology for features such as facial recognition, page scrolling based on eye movement, and creating a 3-D perspective into the screen by sensing eye placement.
Like other commentators, they also suggest the PrimeSense technology will help make Siri more intelligent by giving it eyes such that it can recognize a user and spatial placement. But even more interesting, they say Apple could use this technology to make a plenoptic camera, which lets you adjust the focal point in a photo AFTER you've taken the photo.
Minyanville also speculates on the implications of Apple's investment of $578 million in a company that manufactures sapphire glass. This material is already used in TouchID because it's impossible to scratch. It's possible Apple will use this new technology for the iPhone's display. Imagine a material even tougher than Gorilla Glass. However, this new technology is reportedly four times more expensive, and apparently Apple's investment was intended to help the company hurry up and develop their production processes to bring down the cost. As you can see, the idea of a sapphire glass display is appealing, but hardly ready for prime time.
The post on Minyanville also speculates that TouchID will be improved and that we'll see the iPhone 6 in the summer rather than the fall.