- Apple’s iPhone 12 release is still at least 6 months away, but the phone’s overhauled design and several key features have already leaked.
- Most of the information we have so far about Apple’s iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro smartphones comes from a single source, but now one of the key iPhone 12 Pro features he revealed has seemingly been confirmed.
- The new feature in question could enable some of the iPhone 12 Pro’s most exciting new features, which are believed to involve next-generation augmented reality capabilities.
When it comes to Apple’s iPhone 12 release, everything is up in the air right now. The COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic that tore through China is now devastating several parts of Europe, and the outbreak is just beginning to spread across the United States. Things are going to get far worse before they start to get better, and states across the US are finally beginning to force certain businesses to close and ask people to stay home and remain isolated as much as possible. Needless to say, it’s already far too late to “flatten the curve” and we’re likely weeks or even days away from seeing an explosion in reported cases across the country.
Needless to say, the novel coronavirus’s impact on product launches is the least of our worries right now. That said, it’s still a huge deal and it will have a serious negative impact on all of the biggest consumer electronics companies. A number of big product launches planned for 2020 will likely be delayed. On top of that, people across the country will experience financial hardships from not being able to go to work, so fewer people will be able to purchase new gadgets even if they’re not delayed. Apple’s iPhone 12 series is one of the biggest releases that will take place in 2020, though it’s still unclear exactly when the next-generation iPhone models will hit store shelves. In the meantime, one of the new marquee features headed to the iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max was just confirmed thanks to a big iOS 14 leak.
Whether or not Apple releases its new iPhone 12 lineup on time this coming September, the company will surely announce the new phones on schedule in early September. Some industry watchers expect the iPhone 12 release to be delayed until sometime in either October or November, while others say the phones will still be released in September but supply will be limited. In truth, no one really knows what will happen at this point, not even Apple. It’s far too soon to know exactly what impact COVID-19 will have on manufacturing in China over the course of the rest of the year.
While Apple’s iPhone 12 release plans might still be a mystery, there isn’t much mystery left surrounding the phones themselves. TF International Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has been leaking iPhone 12 details since late last year, and he has the best track record in the business when it comes to revealing Apple’s plans ahead of schedule.
According to Kuo’s excellent sources, Apple’s new iPhone 12 models will feature a big design overhaul that’s basically a cross between the old iPhone 5 and Apple’s current iPhone 11 lineup. The phone will sport flat metal edges and a more square case, but the front will still feature a notched all-screen design and the back will have Apple’s new square camera array. The phones are also expected to include new features like 5G and upgraded OLED screens with a 120Hz refresh rate, but let’s focus on the new cameras for the time being because a huge new leak just confirmed one of Kuo’s most exciting scoops.
One or more third-party iOS developers recently managed to get their hands on an early version of Apple’s upcoming new mobile software, iOS 14. They have been picking through it bit by bit in an effort to uncover new features coming to Apple’s iPhone and iPad lineups, and they’ve found plenty of juicy morsels so far. Most recently, an unexpected second iPhone 9 version was uncovered within the iOS 14 code. And now, another big leak just hit the web.
According to 9to5Mac’s unnamed developer source, the first-ever reference to Apple’s next-generation iPhone 12 lineup was just discovered within the leaked iOS 14 code. The blog’s source found references to an unreleased mobile device lineup referred to by the codename “d5x,” which makes perfect sense considering the iPhone 11 lineup is referred to in iOS code as “d4x.”
Beyond merely confirming the existence of the upcoming new iPhone 12 series, which isn’t much of a revelation at all, the developer also found references in the code to a new time-of-flight (ToF) sensor that will be added to the triple-lens rear camera on the iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max. We’ve known that it was coming ever since Ming-Chi Kuo leaked the info way back in December, but this is the first time the new ToF sensor has been confirmed in actual iOS code.
It’s still unclear exactly what Apple plans to do with the new sensor on its high-end iPhone 12 Pro models, but ToF sensors gather depth data so there’s a very good chance it will involve augmented reality. A new Apple AR app is reportedly in the works, and the new ToF sensor will likely play a big role. We can also likely expect even better Portrait Mode photos and other similar features on the iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max. After all, anything involving 3D depth data will be dramatically improved by the addition of the new ToF sensor.
iOS 14 is a chance for Apple to lower its walls
I have a love-hate relationship with my iPhone. I love the hardware, Apple’s attention to detail in iOS, and the quality of apps that developers have created. But I hate Apple’s walled garden that limits how I use my iPhone every day. I can’t change my default browser; every time I click an email address, I’m forced into an inferior iOS email client; and Apple’s tight OS restrictions mean customization and app features are limited compared to Android.
Rumors suggest Apple is weighing improving some of these restrictions in iOS 14. This upcoming OS update could be the ideal opportunity for Apple to lower its walls a bit, just as regulators in the US and Europe are starting to ask questions about how Apple exerts control over its mobile platform.
Bloomberg reported yesterday that Apple is considering allowing apps like Chrome or Gmail to be set as defaults in iOS 14. It’s a relatively small change, but one that would have a big impact on app developers who compete with Apple’s built-in apps. Windows, Android, and macOS all allow third-party apps to be set as default, but iOS has remained an outlier for more than a decade. Over the past 10 years, competitors have created richer email clients that integrate with full-featured calendar apps that can also be viewed in more extensible mobile browsers that sync across a variety of platforms not owned by Apple. Meanwhile, the iOS experience still forces you into Apple’s often-inferior apps.
iOS 14 is an ideal time to relax default app restrictions, just as regulators in Europe and the US are examining Apple’s overall mobile platform and influence. The EU has reportedly been preparing to launch an Apple antitrust investigation after Spotify filed a complaint over Apple favoring its own music service with restrictions on rivals. Spotify also complained about Apple’s requirements that iPhone users must purchase apps through its official App Store, which then charges developers a 30 percent commission.
Apple’s defense of Spotify’s complaint highlighted exactly how difficult it is to compete with the iPhone maker on a platform where Apple sets the rules and can change them on a whim. Developers looking to avoid Apple’s fees for in-app purchases are forbidden from telling their customers where and how they can pay outside of the App Store. That means apps like Netflix that don’t enable in-app purchases for subscriptions are not allowed to link to their website or even tell the user they need to go to netflix.com to sign up.
Apple is facing similar complaints about its 30 percent commission, and the US Supreme Court ruled last year that the company will have to face an App Store monopoly lawsuit.
Complaints go beyond just Apple’s cut, though. Bluetooth tracking company Tile recently testified in a congressional antitrust hearing that Apple is undercutting potential competitors on its platform. Apple is rumored to be launching a competitor to Tile’s Bluetooth tracking tags, and Tile’s vice president and general counsel Kirsten Daru has accused Apple of using iOS to favor its own interests.
“Apple is acting as a gatekeeper to applications and technologies in a way that favors its own interests,” said Daru. “You might be the best soccer team, but you’re playing against a team that owns the stadium, the ball, and the league, and can change the rules when it wants.”
Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who is a contender for the Democratic nomination for president, is equally wary of Apple’s control of the App Store and believes the company should not get to both run the App Store and distribute apps in it. “It’s got to be one or the other,” she said in an interview with The Verge last year. “Either they run the platform or they play in the store. They don’t get to do both at the same time.”
APPLE’S FRUSTRATING RESTRICTIONS
Apple’s reluctance to allow iPhone owners to set their own default apps has created a frustrating situation that developers have tried to work around in a variety of ways. Apps like Outlook let you set Google Maps and Chrome as the defaults for mapping and web links, and others like YouTube simply open links in Chrome if you have the app installed. Instagram, TikTok, YouTube, Twitter, and others register their links on iOS as an Apple-sanctioned workaround to a lack of default app options. So if you click them from other apps, you’ll be transported to the native iOS app if it’s installed. But you can’t set those links to open in third-party Twitter clients or other alternatives.
Despite these workarounds, I’m still thrown into Safari far too often from links that friends and family send over iMessage or WhatsApp. And mailto links on the web push me into the built-in iOS email client, which I don’t even have configured. Siri is also the default and the only digital assistant I can call for with my voice from the lock screen. Alexa, Google Assistant, and Cortana are all restricted down to only working within their apps.
If Apple does relax its default app rules, it would improve the overall iOS experience for many — but it depends how far it’s willing to go. Apple’s app restrictions run far deeper than limiting default apps and are often related to important security needs. Chrome, Edge, Firefox, Brave, and others have to use Safari’s WebKit-based browser engine in their apps, as Apple doesn’t allow rival rendering engines on iOS. This allows Apple to control the security and updates of how web content is rendered on devices in every app. Third-party apps are also limited in how they can interact with messages in iMessage and phone calls.
These restrictions improve the underlying security of iOS in many ways by limiting potentially harmful code from running freely and preventing apps from sending SMS messages on your behalf. But they also lead to a lack of competition and choice for iPhone users. Microsoft’s Your Phone app allows you to fully mirror and control an Android device from a Windows PC and even send and receive messages and take calls. The same app on iOS is practically useless, as none of these features work.
Another way Apple could lower its walls is by overhauling its App Store policies. Google, Nvidia, and Microsoft are also facing challenges launching their cloud-based game streaming services on iOS. It took nearly a year for Apple to approve Valve’s Steam Link app, even though it primarily streams games from your home PC. Apple initially rejected it for “business conflicts,” and it was likely related to the app allowing an iOS user to access the Steam app store within Apple’s tightly controlled ecosystem. Microsoft is currently testing the limits of these App Store policies with its xCloud beta, while revealing it’s having to limit its app due to the policies.
Apple has relaxed some of its strict iOS rules in the past, which could hint at how the company’s operating system will evolve in the future. Apple created CallKit to allow VoIP apps like WhatsApp, Skype, Messenger, and others to closely integrate into the phone dialer of the OS. You can now make and receive calls through WhatsApp, and they look like regular iPhone calls and even show up in the built-in phone call history.
Apple also relaxed its rules on third-party keyboards with iOS 8, and even Apple’s Messages app can now use the built-in QuickType keyboard feature to parse SMS codes into other apps. This improves a key time when you need other apps to access SMS codes, but if Apple is willing to relax its Messages restrictions even further, then it could allow competitors to create true alternatives to iMessage on the iPhone that would fully support RCS.
UNLEVEL PLAYING FIELD
Third-party app developers have been accusing Apple of stealing their app ideas for years and building them into iOS and macOS. Apple’s built alternatives to Bitmoji, Moment, IFTTT, Google Photos features, Houseparty, AR measuring apps, and many more. It even has a nickname: “Sherlocking,” which references features added to Apple’s Sherlock desktop search tool back in 2002 that were already available in a popular third-party Watson app.
Recently, Blix, the developer behind the BlueMail email management app, claims that Apple stole its anonymous email sign-in feature and then “suppressed” Blix’s iPhone app in search results and kicked its macOS app out of the App Store. Blix is now suing Apple and calling on others to speak out against what it claims are Apple’s unfair business tactics.
Sometimes, Apple’s native alternatives arrive just as it cracks down on third-party apps. Apple built screentime controls into iOS, which appeared just as it started cracking down on third-party apps that offered similar functionality. Apple later backed down from these changes, but the timing didn’t look great.
Apple also faces questions about restrictions on its platform that don’t always apply to its own apps. Apple recently started cracking down on location and Bluetooth features in iOS 13, offering reminders that third-party apps are using your location in the background. Although the feature is designed with privacy in mind, Apple doesn’t offer similar notifications for its own apps like Find My.
The pop-ups have turned into a nuisance for many as you have to repeatedly tap “always allow” every few days, despite explicitly telling iOS that you want an app to always have access to your location. Google is introducing similar restrictions on Android apps, but the same policies will apply to its own apps.
Apple also bends its own rules elsewhere in iOS by using push notifications to promote Apple Music, Apple TV Plus, or even Apple’s Carpool Karaoke show. Apple’s rules specifically state that push notifications “should not be used for advertising, promotions, or direct marketing purposes.”
The complaints are certainly mounting for Apple, and iOS 14 could be a chance for the company to alleviate some of the pressure from regulators while simultaneously improving the overall iPhone and iPad experience for consumers. If we’re able to pick up an iPhone in September and use our favorite email clients, browsers, and other apps a little more freely, then it will be a small but welcome lowering of Apple’s notorious walled garden.
MediaTek Dimensity 800 5G SoC unveiled for mid-range smartphones
MediaTek recently announced its high-end Dimensity 1000 5G chipset for the premium smartphones and now the company has unveiled its new chipset in the same series for the mid-range devices — MediaTek Dimensity 800.
This new 5G-enabled chipset from the company will take on the likes of Qualcomm Snapdragon 765 platform and is expected to make its way to the smartphones in the second quarter of next year.
While the company has revealed this new chipset, the company is yet to reveal any of the tech specs of the Dimensity 800 SoC, including the die size, the CPU/ GPU core architectures, clock speeds and the 5G modem.
The company is likely to reveal more details in Q1 2020 when the chipset will be officially released for the global market. However, leaks reveal that the MediaTek Dimensity 800 will bear the model number MT6873, which was first spotted online last month.
It is said to come with the in-house Helio M70 5G modem and an octa-core CPU comprising of two heavy-duty Cortex A76 cores and six power-efficient Cortex-A50 cores. The chip is rumored to enter commercial production in Q2 2020, which lines up nicely with news that devices powered by the new chip will launch by the middle of next year.
Android 10 Go is a faster and more secure update to Google’s lightweight OS
Google has detailed its latest version of Android Go, its lightweight operating system meant for low-powered devices with less than 1.5GB of RAM. With Android 10 (Go Edition), Google says it has improved the operating system’s speed and security. App switching is now faster and more memory efficient, and apps should launch 10 percent faster than they did on the last version of the OS.
Android 10 Go also sees the introduction of Adiantum, the new encryption standard meant for low-powered devices that Google first announced earlier this year. Google previously said that Adiantum is five times faster than Android’s typical AES encryption on low-powered devices, and doesn’t require specialized hardware to run, making strong encryption on cheaper devices much more feasible.
Since its introduction in 2018, Google says that there have been 1,600 Android Go devices released by 500 manufacturers across more than 180 countries. The operating system can be found in around 80 percent of new entry-level Android phones according to Google, which makes it a very important OS for anyone who can’t afford, or doesn’t want, to spend more money than they need to on a smartphone.
Google expects the first devices running Android 10 (Go Edition) to start releasing later this fall.