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  • Some Thoughts About the Mysterious HomePod Firmware and iOS 11 GM Leaks

    September 12th, 2017

    All things being equal, is it possible to skip Apple’s September 12th media event and still know everything that’s going to happen — or enough not to care about a few isolated details? You almost get that impression what with the torrent of leaks in recent days.

    Supposedly the one group of leaks emerged from the alleged firmware for a forthcoming product, the HomePod.

    Yes, I know Apple doesn’t like to use “the,” but I still don’t care!

    So I suppose it might have come from a disgruntled Apple employee who wanted to make a difference in spreading the word before being axed. But I am just shooting from the hip here, though I hardly think anyone who cares about Apple would want to violate their NDAs so blatantly.

    That said, this product won’t be out until December. So any genuine firmware leak now would be in preliminary form, and thus might not accurately provide the inner details that the tech media has seized on. I’ll leave it there for now.

    Then there’s the alleged iOS 11 GM. It appears to be credible, but I have no interest in checking out the link. For one thing, the developer and public betas out now are no doubt near-final versions, and thus there may not be a whole lot of difference. That said, this GM includes previously unknown details about the 10th anniversary iPhone not being named iPhone 8 after all. Instead, it’ll be the iPhone X. The other models will be iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus. There will be no iPhone 7s or iPhone 7s Plus.

    I’m going to assume that news is correct. It made less sense to refer to a specialty iPhone as the iPhone 8 in light of the fact that you’d expect that to be the name of next year’s model. Then again, perhaps the form factor of the iPhone X will filter down to the rest of the lineup in 2018, they’ll all receive OLED displays and we’ll move to iPhone 9.

    Now someone wrote using the number “9” isn’t cool, pointing out that Microsoft went from Windows 8 to Windows 10. But it’s also true that Microsoft had released an OS that utterly failed, and thus moving far away from its numbering scheme made sense from a marketing point of view.

    Besides, Apple did well with the number 10, only in “X” format. Microsoft wouldn’t risk that.

    And there was indeed a Mac OS 9. It was a modest upgrade from Mac OS 8, and existed until it was replaced by Mac OS X.

    Have I bored you enough yet with this trivia?

    Despite these details, there are no doubt things Apple can keep to itself despite rampant leaks from the supply chain, OS or firmware. So don’t expect the media presentation to be completely predictable.

    But I’m more interested in the potential sources of this GM release. Some speculate it came from yet another disgruntled Apple employee who had a beef with the company, or wanted to strike out on his/her own. But if they were summarily dismissed from Apple for violating a secrecy agreement, how credible would they seem in seeking venture capital, a business loan, let alone finding employment elsewhere? Such a move could be a career-ender.

    On the other hand, Apple releases an iOS GM to wireless carriers for final testing before it is made available to the public. If there’s a last-minute issue, a fast update can be pushed even for new products flashed with the original OS.

    So it’s very possible someone who works with one of the carriers was responsible for this move. That might make it more difficult to locate the culprit, and it’s not that Apple has much authority to deal with such a transgression. The carriers may promise to look into it, and that will be it. They may not be so inclined to care, particularly since this maneuver merely created more interest and possible demand for the new Apple gear. The means sales, profits. Maybe one of the carriers did it for marketing reasons.

    You get the picture.

    Or we can look at the reverse of those theories, which is that both the HomePod and iOS 11 GM leaks were quietly released by Apple to generate discussion. It sure boosted publicity and product anticipation, particularly among fans of the company. They might feel empowered by learning a few secrets from Apple, even though the information mostly confirms products and perhaps some generalized specs that have already been speculated on.

    So, if the real names for the 2017 iPhones are correct, it’s nice to know but nothing special. The apparent existence of Face ID only reinforces something that was already known. Apple will evidently eschew Touch ID for 3D facial recognition, and go at great length to explain why it’s so special.

    I’ll set aside rumors of an Apple Watch Series 3 with optional LTE radio, and an Apple TV with 4K and HDR.

    But do you wonder, then, why I have a nagging feeling that these leaks may just have emerged from Apple after all? It’s well known that the company will quietly feed key members of the tech media news about possible new products and strategy on background. That means Apple and/or Apple spokespeople can’t be directly quoted. But a reporter can write about “sources close to the company” or something similar to make it clear that the report is genuine and from where it came.

    Now let’s get on with the show.



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