The amount of information that gets out from the largest contract electronics assembler in the world is unnerving. Since Foxconn covers immense territory with its factories, the rumor racket is held up by organized contingents and lone wolves alike at the main company and at its subcontractors — it is those down the chain that are the underpaid and overworked, mind you.
But if these teasers can act as some salve, a sticking it to the man if you will, then it might be worth the whole experience for those with intents above pure survival in the Chinese labor market. Enter /u/Foxconninsider, an intelligence middle-group that set up an “Ask Me Anything” thread on the /r/Apple subreddit Saturday and has since received over 900 comments. Their purview was specifically honed towards the next 12 months of hardware releases with documents gathered from up and down the parts chain.
In regards to the iPhone 8, dubbed the iPhone X, the word is that production has been held back due to AuthenTec’s production and viability issues with an under-display optical Touch ID sensor. While device design changes may have occurred by this Chinese New Year, it’s highly doubted that a capacitive sensor will remain on the back side of the iPhone X.
The iPhone X will feature about the same size bezels as seen on the iPhone 7, but less on the vertical edges thanks to that on-screen fingerprint sensing. The top edge will still have to make room for cameras and scanners.
MacBooks and iMacs are getting incremental updates to feature Intel’s 7th-generation Kaby Lake Core i processors, just like what Microsoft did with its Surface Pro.
A full hardware design should come next year, at least for the iMacs, while a “Smart Any Key” keyboard would come alongside for MacBooks. The product would be a joint venture between Foxconn and Australian startup Sonder, which Apple supposedly stalked for acquisition back in October, and would feature keys that would change function with black & white e-ink.
A color version was considered, potentially using Qualcomm’s MiraSol technology, but an intellectual property dispute nixed the idea — no telling if it’s the current lawsuits between the two companies regarding antitrust accusations.
MagSafe should make a return in a Mac model between 12 and 18 months down the line.
Apple Iris, a pair of advanced glasses also known under Project Mirrorshades, has been in the works for a while. Internal prototyping has been going on prior to any mass production tweaking, but some key German glass is off schedule, putting the entire project back.
The unit, which would be sized for either sex, would feature a near-eye display (428 x 240 resolution) held within a cellulose acetate frame. Two microphones would pick up sound while bone conduction pads would provide feedback. Input would also be assisted by an accelerometer, a magnetometer and a small capacitive area on the one of the support arms. There would be no camera, but a Fresnel lens would enable to provide limited augmented reality elements.
All of this would cost about four times the bill of materials, or about $600. It would have to come out between next year and the year after.
FoxconnInsider believes there’s only a 35 percent chance that this project makes it through to sale.
In response to a question about which products would feature the Apple Neural Engine chipset rumored for release, FoxconnInsider responded by saying that a “modified A9 chip” will be inside the speculative Siri speaker that will go up against the likes of Google Home and Amazon Echo.
As to the actual process of how these kinds of leaks generate and propagate, the sources almost always tend to be from blue-collar employees in high turnover positions. They earn either side of the equivalent of $600 a month, though the source claims that most workers are treated to pay raises and other amenities and that undercover reporting has misrepresented conditions in Taiwanese industry. In mainland China, though, that notion has been challenged by watchdog groups in the past.
Apple’s largest partner manufacturers (Foxconn, Pegatron, Flex etc.) are entrenched, so Infinity Loop will tend to deal with shell companies when working on something completely new. It is also keen to deploy its “World Wide Loyalty team” to apply pressure and prevent disclosures from being made.
Information and documents then get passed along and verified by middle-groups like FoxconnInsider, who foster sources like these from as many points as possible. Research and financial firms — KGI Securities being the most prominent — then pick the data up and tell their investors. Somehow, that ends up getting fed back onto us, the tech publications.
FoxconnInsider may schedule more of these AMA sessions prior to big Apple events in the future. As always, you may want to question the information you see here as developments continue to roll in. We’ll have our eye on this channel, too.