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iPhone 6 rumor rollup for the week ending March 14

John Cox | March 18, 2014
With spring stirring, so is the iOSphere's optimism, not to mention Wall Street's. The thrilling prospect of a Big Screen iPhone 6 is prompting visions of an upgrade tidal wave.

The answer to that is almost certainly "not in 2014." The BitBag post, with the headline "Apple iPhone 6 to Feature Kinect and Force-Detecting MacBook Trackpad," was pure clickbait.

It was based on an AppleInsider post by Shane Cole, who covered two newly published Apple patent applications: one dealing with what Cole terms a "Kinect-like iPhone motion sensor," the other a "force-detecting MacBook trackpad." We'll focus on the motion sensor.

You can find the text of the patent application online at the US Patent and Trademark Office website. 

The application "relates generally to range finders and more specifically to range finders integrated with imaging technology." Range finders are used "for determining a proximate range or distance of a target object" and the text briefly summarizes them. According to the application, "currently available range finders often do not provide the desirable accuracy and performance that many applications require."

So why would you want that? Lots of reasons apparently, including (from the text): "to map a space for inventory control, space planning, space navigation, and photo sharing; for 3D object scanning and pattern matching; as a navigation aid for the visually-impaired to detect landmarks, stairs, low tolerances, and the like; as a communication aid for the deaf to recognize and interpret sign language for a hearing user...."

Well, you get the idea. It is recommended to not hold your breath as you await these wonders.

From what The Rollup can tell, the invention described in the document uses light emitters embedded in the phone to send a beam through a fixed or moveable lens. The beam hits an object in front and reflects back through the same lens. Circuitry and software figure out the distance between the phone and the object.

So basically, it's for a more accurate range finding technology that can be embedded on a mobile device and combined, somehow, with "imaging technology." Whether that means the iPhone gets "Kinect-like" capability, or just a "Kinect-like" range finder, is something that only time will tell.

Just don't expect it on the iPhone 6.

iPhone 6 will have sapphire glass on only about 16 percent of units

We're kidding a bit with that headline.

The rumor in question is the conviction that when iPhone 6 is released later this year, the traditional Corning Gorilla Glass screen cover will be replaced by synthetic sapphire, produced in raw form at Apple's new Mesa, Ariz., plant. Its partner is GT Advanced Technologies (GTAT), which has expanded from being a supplier of sapphire furnaces to also being a supplier of sapphire material. Apple is buying over a half-billion billion dollars in furnaces and related gear from GTAT, which apparently will operate the equipment at the plant.


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