Rumor Roundup: What Has Apple Got Up Its Sleeve?

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The Apple machine continues to roll on after the launch of the Apple Watch and the impressive quarterly earnings report that set new records for the company. Never ones to rest though, Apple is facing a new wave of rumors and speculation around what the rest of the year will hold for the company and its next round of products and services.

Earlier this week, it was thrown a curveball with a report from The Verge that claimed that the Department of Justice was investigating Apple for allegedly pressuring labels to withdraw from free tier streaming platforms, namely Spotify; in other words, Apple’s competition for the streaming service that it most likely launch next month at its Worldwide Developers Conference.

With the recent launch of Tidal, fresh attention has been placed on streaming services and their business models. A report from Billboard this week adds that Apple still hasn’t signed some key music deals that would make its streaming plans a reality and could inhibit the service’s launch schedule.

The sources quoted in the report say that a June announcement is still possible but an actual launch is not as likely. “June won’t be the release date. The deals aren’t done,” one source said.

Roadblocks in talks with music publishers aren’t the only headache Apple has when it comes to streaming/Beats. Another report, this time from Bloomberg, says that the company’s Beats acquisition could be subject to antitrust investigations from the Federal Trade Commission.

Apple TV

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Much has been said of Apple TV’s future, from a new operating system and interface through to the media deals with the likes of HBO and integration with HomeKit. Much like the rumored music product, Apple is believed to launching its own TV streaming service. These rumblings are nothing new. As far back as 2009, Apple was believed to be plotting a streaming offering but of late, it all seems much more realistic.

The Wall Street Journal claims that WWDC, unsurprisingly, would be the location for announcing this new branch of Apple with a September release.

As for partners, there are a number of names bandied around and many of them are heavy hitters when it comes to content—Fox, ABC, and CBS but NBC Universal is conspicuous by its absence. However, as the WSJ reports, Apple and Comcast (NBC Universal’s parent company) remain in talks. Just what this would mean for the shows available on the supposed reincarnation of Apple TV is anyone’s guess right now.

It’s not just services either that have people talking about Apple TV as this week, there have also been rumors swirling about a new piece of hardware to accompany the TV product. Apple is believed to be unveiling a new touchpad remote control and the news hasn’t been well received, with many under the belief that Apple would go full-on voice controls.

Reinvigorating the iPad

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Amid the pomp of the Apple Watch, the new Macbook, and the success of the iPhone 6, one staple device of Apple’s has been lost in the shuffle—iPad, and for good reason. iPad sales have fallen significantly in recent years and it’s not just with Apple. Tablet sales in general are down.

With more variety available in smartphones, especially in the size of phones, something the company noticed with the iPhone 6+, there’s been little reason to splash out on an iPad.

This could all change soon though, or “change everything” if you will. That’s the slogan of a new ad campaign that Apple launched on Wednesday, centering on the iPad. The new site says the iPad can change everything about your day to day life and features images of people cooking with recipes on their iPads or running small businesses. It looks like Apple is reimagining the iPad as a device for getting stuff done rather than an entertainment device. Should we expect a new iPad soon?

If we are, rumors about a larger 12-inch iPad Pro might finally be realized. There’s a been speculation about the company releasing an iPad that would be able to handle some deeper functionality and even some true multitasking. Some mockup designs have shown that a 12-inch iPad would be able to easily put two standard apps side-by-side and run them simultaneously. It might still be a little far-fetched, but they couldn’t have named it the current model the iPad Air without any plans for a high-powered Pro model as well, right?

And that’s not all

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Apple always has a couple of plans forming under the surface. This week MIT Technology Review broke news that Apple is working with US medical researchers to create apps for users to share DNA data for testing; the whole thing would work on Apple’s ResearchKit, Apple’s health-focused platform.

Meanwhile Apple Pay is slowly but surely growing in prominence. Apple added two dozen new banks and credit unions to the fold this week and reports suggest Home Depot, one of the country’s biggest retailers, will start accepting Apple Pay soon.

Launching Apple Pay outside of the US is the next hurdle. Canada is slated for the end of the year with Europe to follow and Apple has already been talking with European banks.

Despite the fact that Apple has just launched an entire new product line in the Apple Watch, there’s still a lot more in the pipeline for the Cupertino company—and that’s not even mentioning the inevitable new iPhone(s) that will come this fall, along with the next version of its mobile operating system. We’ll see all that and more at WWDC, which is currently scheduled for June 8-12.

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