Let’s Rock: Nine Rumors for 9 September

by Aayush Arya Sep 07, 2008

For Apple, secrecy—the holy ingredient in whatever they do, the mantra and obsession of Steve Jobs, a trait that is embedded in Apple’s DNA—is becoming as elusive as the golden snitch, if you’ll excuse the Harry Potter reference, these days. From the MacBook Air to the iPhone price drop and iTunes rentals to MobileMe, the blogosphere knows what he’s going to say long before Jobs ascends that stage to deliver his keynote speeches.

And it’s a shame, really, because I remember the time, a couple of years ago, when Jobs’s dramatically delivered announcements used to wow us all. We used to sit in front of our computers, eagerly following the live-blogs, and exclaim, “Holy cow, they didn’t!” every time he put up a slide with the picture of a sleek new gadget that no one had ever laid eyes on before. Pardon my fanaticism, but as much of a kool-aid drinker and cultist as I may sound, I have to say that the anticipation and subsequent surprise added a certain charm to the entire process, one that seems to be fleetingly uncommon these days.

It is with a heavy heart, therefore, that I present before you the nine most common rumors floating around the Internet these days, even as I pray that Jobs does a “one more thing” and pulls a rabbit out of his hat that has us all wowing in wonderment and secretly thanking Steve and co. for having successfully kept their newfangled gadget under tight wraps till its launch day. They’re ranked in order of probability (with the most probable ones heading the list):

1. Redesigned iPod nano: What is it with Apple and the iPod nano anyway? They just can’t seem to make up their mind about what they want it to look like. The first model was an elongated one with a stainless steel (read scratch magnet) back which was followed by another elongated one that was made out of a single sheet of anodized aluminum. This was the nano everyone just fell in love with. It was a thin and sleek device that could fit into pretty much any pocket out there, was quite sturdy, and virtually impossible to get scratches on.

Then came along the iPod nano “fatty”, the almost universally reviled broader version which reverted to stainless steel for the rear of the casing. However, the hatred soon gave way to acceptance, which quickly turned into love, and most current iPod nano owners swear by the looks of their favorite gadget. Not one to settle though, Apple has a new one up their sleeve now, if the widely circulating rumors and spy shots are to be believed.

First reported by Kevin Rose, founder of digg and co-founder of Pownce, the new iPod nano that is slated to be launched tomorrow will sport the same elongated, thin look that graced the second generation model but will have curved edges and a screen larger than the one on the current iPod nano, capable of displaying widescreen videos when turned sideways.

Engadget also posted a purported spy shot of the new nano that conforms to those specifications and, if you ask me, looks real enough. There’s no word on the prices or capacities it will be available in yet, but a few other rumors that have been circulating for the past month have hinted that we might see a price drop across the entire iPod lineup. I wouldn’t hold my breath for that one though if I were you. Or even if I were me. “If I were me”? Boy, this is why I shouldn’t write stuff at midnight.

2. iTunes 8: Ah, iTunes, the centre of the Apple universe. To quote Macworld Senior Editor Chris Breen, it’s “a program that catalogs your music, videos, podcasts, and iPhone applications, plays all these media types (save applications, of course), streams Internet radio, burns CDs and DVDs, pops up a visalizer that you can space out to, synchronizes music and data to iPods and iPhones, streams content to Apple TVs, converts media from one format to another, acts as a front-end for the iTunes Store, edits ringtones, and poaches salmon, apparently”!

What possibly could a new version of iTunes bring to the table then? More features, of course, a new visualizer, and support for the new iPods that we presume will be released tomorrow. First hinted at by Kevin Rose in his original post and then later confirmed in another, the new version of iTunes will apparently have a feature called Genius that will automatically make playlists from your library of songs that complement each other and also recommend you similar music from the iTunes Store.

We’re also getting a new grid view for looking at all our albums and their associated artwork, the ability to buy and download high definition TV show episodes (possibly even onto our computers), and a new visualizer. The visualizer, Magnetosphere, was originally developed by an independent designer Allan White and supposedly bought by Apple and incorporated in the upcoming iTunes 8. As believable as most of it sounds, the usual caveats with rumors apply—take it all with a grain of salt.

3. Redesigned, less expensive iPod touch: The folks at iLounge have managed to snag “apparent dimensional drawings” for the upcoming versions of both the iPod nano and iPod touch, the former of which confirms the previous murmurings about the “Kevin Rose iPod”, as the blogosphere has been referring to it lately, and the latter sheds some light on what the next generation iPod touch might look like.

If this document is to be believed, the iPod touch is going to follow in the footsteps of its elder sibling and, like the iPhone 3G, sport a curved back that tapers towards the edges. It will be slightly thicker but feel just about the same in your hand and will have external volume controls a là the iPhone. That, if it turns out to be true, will be a boon for sure.

The more outrageous rumors, that aren’t backed by any leaked images or insider knowledge of any sort, suggest that Apple might axe the price of the iPod touch to bring it more in line with the iPhone’s (not taking into regard the AT&T contract and recurring fees), drop the 8GB model, and even throw in a GPS receiver. With the exception of the inclusion of GPS, I’d say that all of the other rumors seem to be spot on to me.

4. iPhone/iPod touch 2.1 software update: If you’ve had a chance to use an iPhone or iPod touch running on firmwares v2.0.x lately, you probably know that they’ve been turned into error prone, crashy little buggers by the v2.0 firmware. Although v2.0.2 is much better than the v2.0.0 firmware that debuted on 11 July, it’s still a far cry from the quality I generally expect of Apple software. Add to it a huge bug that can potentially expose your private data to anyone who uses your phone, even though it’s protected by a passcode, and you’ve got a recipe for customer unrest.

I sincerely hope that this rumor is true and the firmware v2.1 is released tomorrow. It’s supposed to fix that glaring security hole and even add some new super secret features that no one knows about (yes, you can say that this isn’t a very specific rumor). Come on, Apple, do it already—my iPhone will breathe a sigh of relief.

5. Mac OS X v10.5.5 update for Leopard: There have been slight murmurings about this one but, really, who cares! Unless it adds some new features that we can drool on, a point-point update is hardly the stuff of dreams, even for the most hardcore of Apple fanboys. Whether or not it’s released remains to be seen—wake me up and let me know what happens.

6. Notebook update: Both the MacBook and MacBook Pro have been stuck in their current designs since forever and everyone is eagerly awaiting a complete revamp. It has also been nine months since the launch of the MacBook Air—enough time for Apple to have conceived a new baby brother for the world’s thinnest notebook, don’t you think? Let’s just hope that they deliver.

7, 8, and 9. iTunes Unlimited, New displays, and Mac tablet: Some things just never say die, some people never give up, and some rumors never subside. Every time an Apple event comes along, these three rumors inevitably crop up—Apple providing a subscription based model for purchasing music from the iTunes Store, updating their range of Cinema Displays (neither model of which has ever been upgraded in its entire existence, one of them even going back to seven years), and introducing a revolutionary new Mac tablet. Nothing new to see here; move on.

There you have it, a brief summary of most (if not all) the rumors doing the rounds these days in relation to the ‘Let’s Rock’ event and my personal take on each one of them. I reckon the first three are most probably going to turn out to be true but am thoroughly skeptical about the rest, as should be clear from my descriptions above. However, I do think that Jobs will pull at least one card from his magic bag that no one has been talking about and that’s what I’m looking forward to.

Let us know your take on these rumors and any other insightful stories and speculation that you may have to share.

Needless to say, this article is entirely based on unverified rumors and idle speculation. Neither Aayush Arya nor Apple Matters can be held accountable in case you accept them as fact and then, on learning that Steve Jobs didn’t announce one or more of the products mentioned above, decide to sue us for misleading you. Yeah, we know you’re all intelligent enough to not need that disclaimer but we’re just too darn afraid of lawyers.


  • Aayush, nice roundup.

    I hope Tunes 8 brings a wishlist function. This is especially needed in the App Store since it doesn’t allow adding to your cart.

    I hope iPhone 2.1 makes it easy for developers to mirror their data on your computer, but even more importantly, protects third party app data from being zapped by app updates. And also I hope 2.1 let you use your iPhone or touch as a USB drive.

    My other big wish for 2.1 is a way to set ringer volume independently of other sounds.

    #10 the rumor that really will never die… The Beatles on iTMS!! Remember you heard it hear first!

    Chris Howard had this to say on Sep 07, 2008 Posts: 1209
  • Oh, how could I have missed that one! I’m ashamed of myself. :p

    I hope v2.1 brings the ability to forward text messages. Why the heck is it not there! It makes no sense. I hope it brings copy-paste. I hope it brings a lot of stuff, but I know it won’t.

    Aayush Arya had this to say on Sep 08, 2008 Posts: 36
  • ...updating their range of Cinema Displays (neither model of which has ever been upgraded in its entire existence, one of them even going back to seven years)

    Not True. See:

    The 30” model last received an increase in specification in March 2006 while the 20” and 23” remains unchanged since August 2006.

    thethirdshoe had this to say on Sep 08, 2008 Posts: 3
  • Better organization for video in iTunes 8 would be very welcome from me.  Right now the video is clearly just piggy-backed onto the music (Album name for video?).  Something a little more dedicated to the video tab would be very handy.

    Also, some are expecting a huge price drop in the iPod Touch line.

    Beeblebrox had this to say on Sep 08, 2008 Posts: 2220
  • Beeb, it’s not just videos, it’s everything. Do a “Get Info” of an app. Eg. looking at Super Monkey Ball, we find SEGA is the Artist and Artist Album, and Super Monkey Ball is the Album!

    The stupid thing is it’s soooooo freaking easy to write an “if” statement in code to check the media type (song, video, app, podcast, etc) and adjust the labels accordingly. After all, there is already an “if” statement at work that greys out the lyrics tab when necessary.

    It’s really poor quality control to let something this obvious and simple to fix go for so long.

    Chris Howard had this to say on Sep 08, 2008 Posts: 1209
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