iPhone 6 rumour rollup for the week ending May 16

what Apple's German HR policies on staff vacation reveal about the iPhone 6 announcement date

Finally, a "rumour" that reads like real reporting: iPhone 6 could "triple" its base resolution to enable Retina display pixel densities on larger screen sizes.

Also this week, what Apple's German HR policies on staff vacation reveal about the iPhone 6 announcement date, and misinterpreting what NFC means to Apple.

You read it here second.

iPhone 6 will "triple" resolution to 1704 x 960

In a fine exclusive for 9to5Mac, Mark Gurman shows how to report "rumors."

"Instead of retaining the current resolution, sources familiar with the testing of at least one next-generation iPhone model say that Apple plans to scale the next iPhone display with a pixel-tripling (3X) mode," Gurman writes.

He identifies multiple sources "familiar" with testing a future iPhone.

The pixel triple claim is based on a rather detailed review of the iPhone's screen resolution history. Essentially, Gurman notes that the current Phone 5s "with a non-Retina (or "1X") display would have an actual resolution of 568 x 320 (which is the 1136 x 640 resolution divided by 2). We'll call this the "base resolution" of the iPhone 5/5s/5c."

If this base resolution is tripled, you end up with 1704 and 960, and it's that resolution that Gurman's sources say is being tested.

Such a move means that the iPhone 6 screen keeps the same 16:9 aspect ratio as the iPhone 5, iPhone 5s, and iPhone 5c. And in either the rumored 4.7-inch or 5.5-inch screen sizes, both would achieve the pixel density that qualifies as Apple's definition of its trademarked Retina display (300 pixels per inch or above): at 4.7 inches, the density is 416 pixels per inch; at 5.5 inches, 356 PPI. 9to5Mac developed a set of screen mockups to show how iOS and some applications might appear on larger screens with the higher resolution.

As Gurman details, if such a move is in the offing, both Apple and at least a select group of key application developers will be optimizing at least some applications to fully exploit the larger screen area and the higher resolution.

"Just like with the transition to the iPhone 4's Retina display in 2010 and the transition to the iPhone 5's taller screen in 2012, Apple is preparing major resolution changes for the iPhone 6 that will require software changes by both Apple and developers, according to people briefed on the specifications of the new device," Gurman writes.

So Gurman offers credible sources, and then realistically elaborates on what the rumored change would actually look like and its effect on developers and end users. A fine job of reporting.

iPhone 6 due in September because Apple staff in Germany won't have vacation time

BGR's Zach Epstein seems to lack the word "rumor" in his vocabulary. Almost automatically, it seems, he translates "rumor" into "report."

The latest example: "New report may finally tell us when the iPhone 6 will be released." 

"[A] new report from German Apple blog iFun suggests that the launch will take place in September," Epstein reveals. "The report cites unnamed sources in claiming that Apple Stores in Germany will restrict employee vacation time in September in order to ensure that all hands are on deck for the iPhone 6 launch."

In case you're not up-to-speed on Apple's corporate HR policies, Epstein explains. "Apple restricts vacation time ahead of and during its iPhone launches each year, though it typically doesn't begin informing employees of this restriction until much closer to the iPhone's release date."

The link is to the original iFun post in German. Here's our own Google Translation of it: "Employees in the German Apple Stores may appear to [not?] take any leave in September. If this information is true (and we have little reason to doubt the reliability of the source), this indicates a launch popular new Apple products this month. Specifically, it would be the iPhone 6, September was already in the last two years, Apple's "iPhone-month", while new iPads usually followed later in the year."

That's what qualifies as a "report" in BGR Land.

Epstein adds some context. "While reports attempting to pinpoint the next iPhone's release time frame have been all over the map during the past few months, the smart money has remained on a September release."

That's true: the smart money has remained on September. That's because the last iPhone announcement was in September 2013 and because Apple almost always announces the next model 12 months after that.

You don't even need a "report" to figure that out.

iPhone 6 will include NFC...finally!

The basis for this rumor, in a post at BrightWire News, almost certainly does not mean what many think it means.

"Apple is likely to incorporate a Near Field Communication (NFC) payment function in the next generation iPhone and has reached an agreement with China UnionPay on a mobile payment service, according to a source close to the matter," writes BrightWire's Frank Hill.

Most iOSpherians following Hill's post assume this means the iPhone 6 will incorporate a new wireless chip and antenna system specifically designed for Near Field Communications, a very short-range wireless connection that Google for example uses in its own smartphones to make Google Wallet as much of a reality as it is.

Keep in mind that the BrightWire story is based on a single, unidentified source.

"Under the deal with China UnionPay, users would be able to download the bank card organization's app to Passbook in their iPhones and make mobile payments on over 3 million China UnionPay's QuickPass' POS machines in China, the source said."

Then there's this: "Currently China UnionPay is developing a system that follows its PBOC QuickPass standard which is compatible with Apple's iOS....In addition to NFC payment, the two companies will also work together on another mobile payment solution that can be used for purchases in Apple Stores, added the source."

Hill notes that "Apple filed for a patent covering Near Field Communication (NFC) technology with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in January this year, according to earlier media reports."

One of those reports was by AppleInsider. The patent in question, as the drawing with the AppleInsider post shows, includes an NFC chip, but only as one option for wireless payments and transactions: the other two are Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.

Apple already has the outlines of and client-side infrastructure for a mobile payments system, based on its iBeacon/Bluetooth 4.0. [See "Apple's iBeacon turns location sensing inside out"]

With iBeacon, merchants can communicate with any iPhone that has Bluetooth 4.0, launching a process that creates a secure handshake with the device, and authenticates the user. Unlike NFC, which requires the phone and reader to be touching or nearly touching, Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) lets this take place over a much greater distance, without the need for buying an NFC-equipped phone or adding NFC readers at the point of sale. [See the slideshow: "How Apple's iBeacon location sensing technology works"] 

If China UnionPay is working with Apple to create a wireless mobile payment system that's compatible with iOS, it seems more likely to be one that makes use of Bluetooth and iBeacon, rather than introducing on the iPhone a brand new technology (and much more complex infrastructure) in which Apple has shown almost no interest.

John Cox covers wireless networking and mobile computing for Network World.Twitter: http://twitter.com/johnwcoxnwwEmail: john_cox@nww.com

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