*Maybe **At some point.
There's no rumour mill in tech quite like the Apple rumour mill, and every week – if not nearly every day – there's something new that Apple is totally making.
We've heard a lot of absurd speculation over the years, but the moles have gotten chattier over time, and a rumour will often build and build until Apple finally makes something official. It happened with the iPhone X, HomePod, and Touch Bar-equipped MacBooks, and so many other recent devices before those. In many cases, we know nearly every key detail before something is properly announced.
So what is Apple possibly working on right now? We've compiled 15 recent and not-yet-ruled-out rumours about Apple products and features, uncovered via reports or patent applications, which range from an electric car to an AR headset, multiple new iPhones, and even an Apple Ring.
Apple is definitely going to make all of these things, right? Well, hopefully not the iRing.
1) A BIGGER IPHONE X
We're only a couple weeks past the release of the iPhone X (shown), and already there's talk about how it'll soon be outmoded. According to analyst Ming-Chi Kuo of KGI Securities, Apple may be working on a larger version of the revamped iPhone to release in late 2018.
The report claims that we'll get an updated version of the standard 5.8in model, of course, but that Apple may also release a larger version with a 6.5in OLED display. The iPhone XI Plus? Or iPhone X2 Plus, if we want to throw all naming logic out the window?
Sounds appealing… but also massive. But that sizing approach is pretty similar to what Samsung has done with the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8 Plus, too. In any case, we think it's very likely that Apple ends up offering size options after this first year.
2) A CHEAPER, LCD MODEL TOO
And that won't be the only one, according to the KGI analyst. He also believes that Apple will release a cheaper take on the iPhone X that uses a lower-resolution LCD panel instead of the brilliant OLED display used in the current model.
Here's where the report gets a bit wonky, though: he expects that this cheaper version will bridge the gap in size between the iPhone X and the purported Plus model, coming in at 6.1in but with a lower resolution than either of them – likely 320-330 pixels per inch (ppi), which is right where the standard iPhone 8 falls today (326ppi).
It could come at a nice discount, though: Kuo pegs the price at between US$649-749, which would keep it in line with the iPhone 8, which sells for US$699.
3) AN IPAD PRO X
The iPhone X represents a radical redesign for Apple's smartphone, and the company might take it to tablets next. According to a report from Chinese site MyDrivers (via MacRumors), the 2018 versions of the iPad Pro could take after the iPhone X in a couple of key ways.
First, they're expected to have the same TrueDepth front-facing camera system that enables Face ID security, Animoji, and facial tracking. And secondly, they could feature a similar design with no Touch ID button and very minimal bezel.
However, the report suggests that the 10.5in (current model shown) and 12.9in tablets will stick with LCD displays due to higher yield rates than OLED. The tablets should also have an eight-core A11X Bionic chip that'll even outperform the benchmark-slaying A11 Bionic chip in the current iPhones.
4) AN AR HEADSET
This autumn's iOS 11 update makes a big push into augmented reality with Apple's ARKit software, but analysts believe the company is just dipping its toe into the market before truly diving in with dedicated hardware.
The Nikkei Asian Review reports that Apple supplier Quanta is working on an augmented reality headset for a client that they expect to be out by 2019, and analysts the outlet spoke to believe that the project really is for Apple. It sounds similar to Microsoft's HoloLens, with a transparent lens that you can look through to see digital items projected on to your view of the real world.
It sounds like a big leap for Apple, but if the company thinks the world is ready for it – and willing to pay a heap of cash for another device – then maybe they'll help usher wearable AR into the mainstream.
5) A 3D SENSOR FOR IPHONES
Now here's an Apple augmented reality move that seems a lot more sensible. According to Bloomberg, Apple plans to outfit iPhones with a new 3D sensor that'll help improve mobile AR experiences. The report pegs 2019 as the year Apple rolls out this feature with new iPhones.
What's the plan? Well, supposedly Apple is working on a laser-centric approach, with the sensor firing off loads of lasers and then building a 3D picture of your surroundings based on how long it takes for the lasers to bounce off of objects. You won't see these lasers, though… and they won't destroy everything around you (presumably).
It's actually not far off from how the True Depth camera system works on the iPhone X, and with both equipped, these new iPhones will be AR masters from the front and back. Neat.
6) AN ELECTRIC (AND SELF-DRIVING?) CAR
An Apple car is probably the most audacious and unexpected thing on this list, and yet surprisingly, it's been widely reported on. What's more, CEO Tim Cook isn't even denying it. Rumours caught fire in early 2015, claiming that Apple had hundreds of people working on an electric car known as Project Titan, and the hits kept coming.
Uncovered emails suggested that Apple was looking for a facility to test self-driving cars – potentially a later goal after launching an initial electric car – and a report said that Apple had "committed" to the project and aimed to finalise it by 2019. Last year, the project lead reportedly left, but Apple supposedly has more and more people working on Titan, and potentially loads of cash invested.
Will we be driving Apple cars in a few years? Quite possibly. Well, at least those of us who can afford it.
7) A STREAMING TV SERVICE
For years, Apple was rumoured to be creating its own streaming TV service to complement its set-top box, and the rumours flared up again in 2015. Reports said that Apple would cobble together a cheaper package of channels like Sling TV or PlayStation Vue, and sell it for much less than the average cable or satellite subscription.
But the plan hit some snags, it seems: channel operators pushed back, and wouldn't give Apple the prices it wanted to be able to deliver cheap bundles. Still, Les Moonves, CEO of American broadcast network CBS, seems confident: "This will happen," he said in December 2015. (It still hasn't happened.)
8) A smart ring
Will the Apple Watch beget the Apple Ring? We're not counting on it, but Apple is at least looking into the possibility. A patent application uncovered in late 2015 shows "devices and methods for a ring computing device," and the illustrations shown are indeed for a wearable device with a screen that sits on your finger.
The touchscreen could be used to interact with the Apple Watch, even, but unless you're a die-hard fan of wearables, chances are that you don't need two of them on at any given time. Would anyone? Apple might try to find out, if the application is any indication.
9) Built-in iPhone joystick
Apple's appreciation for games has seemed begrudging at best over the years, but the immense success of mobile gaming has surely made the company take note. But would Apple really build a gaming-specific hardware function into the iPhone?
It seems far-fetched, yet a patent application shows a concept for a pop-out home button that turns into a physical analog stick. Essentially, you'd push in the standard home button and it would emerge from the flat surface, giving you a proper directional stick for moving characters, steering cars, etc.
Sounds like a neat idea, but also a feature ripe for added repair woes – and very unlike Apple too. And presuming the button-less iPhone X really is Apple's vision for the future of its smartphones, we'd say this rumour is just about toast.
10) An Apple McLaren
Apple's electric car project has been too widely reported to simply be a myth at this point, but any product of that work may be years out still – and help could come from an unexpected source, as well. In September 2016, The Financial Times reported that Apple has been in serious talks with exotic carmaker McLaren for month about a full takeover.
You can insert a joke here about the "Apple tax," but obviously, Apple won't be selling million-quid cars to a mass audience. However, McLaren's knowhow and interest in producing electric cars could be a huge benefit for Apple, which has never made its own cars before. McLaren denied the report and this one seems like a longshot, but it could also be a really beneficial relationship if it pans out.
11) A phone with a stylus
Steve Jobs famously slammed stylus-driven phones, saying, "If you see a stylus, they blew it" – but in the post-Jobs era, Apple has gone against its late founder's whims at times. And this could be the most significant example of all.
According to Korean publication The Investor, Apple has been talking to stylus makers about a partnership to build an iPhone with an included stylus. Why Apple wouldn't just make a smaller Apple Pencil to work with the iPhone is a bit perplexing, but hey, that's what the report claims.
It suggests that we could see the result by 2019, but we don't know… Apple has done plenty fine with its smartphones without needing a stylus, and Samsung's Galaxy Note 8 (shown) still feels a little niche.
12) An all-seeing HomePod
Apple's new HomePod speaker – a higher-end competitor to Amazon's Echo and the Google Home – will release early next year, but rumours are already swirling about the next-generation model.
And that one, reportedly, will be able to see you. According to Nikkei Asian Review, Apple's HomePod supplier Inventec Appliances says it expects home speakers to pack in facial recognition in the future, allowing them to automatically adjust settings based on who's in view. Analysts suggest they're talking about a future version of the HomePod.
Of course, the iPhone X has Face ID, so this could be an extrapolation of this. And at US$349, the first-gen HomePod is already in premium pricing territory. We're not sure there's significant value in facial recognition on a home speaker, but anything's possible.
13) A self-sealing iPhone
The iPhone 8 and X are thankfully water-resistant, but Apple is reportedly working on some next-generation weatherproofing powers. That's according to a patent application discovered in 2015.
That application shows Apple's concept for "self-healing" rubber port enclosures, which split apart when you insert a headphone jack or Lightning cable. When removed, they expand back to their normal shape, thus closing up the holes. Granted, the headphone port is now long gone with the last couple iPhone models, but adding something like that to the Lightning port could save some accidentally-submerged phones from the scrap heap.
14) Contorting Apple Watch bands
We already have a fair number of Apple Watch band choices, but this one could add a truly functional boost to the smartwatch. A patent application discovered early last year shows a magnetic, contorting band that serves a couple of unique purposes.
In one form, it can be used to cover the screen of the Watch, which is perfect for keeping it scratch-free when in your pocket or a bag. And it can also be rolled in a way that keeps the Watch upright when on a nightstand or desk, eliminating the need for a dock.
Lastly, the magnets mean you can attach the Watch to a fridge or metal cabinet when you need to take it off to do the dishes or other grunt work.
15) A Touch ID touchscreen
Apple's Touch ID really set in motion the whole trend of mobile fingerprint sensors, but who needs a button when you can have the entire screen? That's what a patent application discovered in early 2015 suggests, as Apple could build the fingerprint recognition technology directly into an iPhone or iPad screen.
Not only would it scan one finger at a time (and from any point on the display), but potentially many fingers, or even your entire hand. Now that's next-level security. We haven't heard any other rumours here lately, though, so it's unclear whether the concept will actually be used. Besides, if the iPhone X's Face ID really is the future of Apple device security, there won't be much need for this.