The iOSsphere seemed to be nearing exhaustion, swinging between summer and fall release dates, the differences between .1 and .2 firmware versions, and wild longings for a 3D user interface.
And all we really had to show for it was another iPhone 5 scam.
You read it here second.
"It seems to be becoming more and more of a coin-toss situation each and every day regarding whether or not Apple will opt for an iPhone 5 release date in the summer or fall of this year, with rather weighty evidence backing both possibilities." ~ Eddie Jones, NewsSizzle.com, apparently the last man on earth to realize that more and more rumors lead to more and more uncertainty.
iPhone 5 release this summer ... or fall
The good thing about rumors is the same thing that's bad about them: They're unmoored from reality.
"It seems to be becoming more and more of a coin-toss situation each and every day regarding whether or not Apple will opt for an iPhone 5 release date in the summer or fall of this year, with rather weighty evidence backing both possibilities," writes an exasperated-sounding Eddie Jones at NewsSizzle.com, who added 1 + 1 and came up with less than zero.
But at least he has "rather weighty evidence." And what is this evidence, you ask?
It's "the latest string of rumors surfacing from the world's mobile technology industry," along with stuff that was "said by many," not to mention "countless key sources and supposed Foxconn workers."
If that isn't evidence, what is?
Jones still seems to be hoping that iPhone 5 will be announced on iOctober 5, the first anniversary of Steve Jobs' death (although Apple could still surprise us all and announce it, or iPad 3 or something, on his birthday next week, Feb. 24). How likely is a deathday observance? "The fact that the iPhone 5 was said by many to be one of the most dedicated passions of Jobs and a project he had personally been involved in for years would make this suggestion a distinct possibility to say the least," Jones intones.
On the other hand.
"On the other hand, suggestions of a possible summer launch appear to have just as much weight behind them, as countless key sources and supposed Foxconn workers have claimed that the iPhone 5 is pretty much ready to go and will return Apple to its usual iPhone launch schedule at the WWDC [Worldwide Developer Conference] in June."
So, to say the least, it's a distinct possibility that iPhone will be announced either this summer or next fall. We wouldn't have to read this stuff if Jones had simply done what he suggests at the outset of his post: flip a coin.
iPhone 5 will run iOS 5.something-or-other, not iOS 6
Taking rumors at face value, Michael Nace, at the un-ironically named iPhone 5 News Blog, wonders if the imminent release of iOS 5.1 will "foreshadow a refreshed iOS 5.2 for the iPhone 5, and not a full iOS 6 overhaul?"
In a post that has only a superficial coherence, Nace explains that iOS 5, unveiled in June 2011, was a big deal but it also contributed to the reported battery life problems of iPhone 4S, unveiled in October. So Apple is soon bringing out 5.1, and that means it could also later bring out 5.2, unless it doesn't.
"What remains to be seen, however, is if Apple will continue to upgrade iOS 5 heading into the iPhone 5 release, of if June will see the release of iOS 6," Nace writes, using a classic iOSsphere construction that states the obvious as if it were a revelation.
"Historically, Apple has released a fresh, new version of iOS, starting in 2007 with iOS 1," he says. "Thus, for Apple to opt for equipping the iPhone 5 with iOS 5.2 would break with a long-held tradition [of 4.0 years] of deploying a new mobile operating system at the Worldwide Developer's Conference."
Nace apparently means "a new single-digit version of the mobile operating system" since Apple isn't replacing the OS every year.
In any case, his conclusion boils down to "Apple will do something with the operating system for iPhone 5, but I have no idea what."
iPhone 5 will have 3D, eyeball-tracking, interactive, supercalifragilisticexpialidocious display
Among newly published patent applications by the U.S. Patent Office is one by Apple, number 20120036433, entitled "Three Dimensional User Interface Effects on a Display by Using Properties of Motion," picked up by, among others, AppleInsider.
This is just the latest 3D patents for Apple, which the iOSsphere has been obsessing over since last summer at least.
Reading the many iOSsphere posts on this new invention, Rollup has the distinct impression that no one really understands what it is or how it works, but they all agree its way cool.
Digital Spy: "Apple files virtual 3D eye-tracking display patent"
Wired: "Apple Patent Shows 3-D Interface Calibrated by Eye Positioning"
Engadget: "Apple files patent for interactive 3D interface"
PhoneArena: "Apple patent from 2010 tracks your eyes to give 3D illusion on screen"
There's still more confusion caused by the fact that AppleInsider posted about another Apple 3D patent on Jan. 12 and the writer of both posts, Neil Hughes, seems to have reused much his earlier wording.
From Jan. 12 -- "Apple exploring motion-based 3D user interface for iPhone": "Apple has shown interest in developing a new user interface for the iPhone that relies less on the device's touchscreen, and more on manipulating a 3D environment with motion controls. The concept was revealed this week in a new patent application discovered by AppleInsider and entitled 'Sensor Based Display Environment.' It describes a three-dimensional display environment that uses orientation data from onboard sensors, like a gyroscope and compass, to navigate the system.
From Feb. 9 -- "Apple exploring 3D frame-of-reference iOS interface based on eye, light location": "Apple has shown interest in creating a unique user interface for iOS, allowing new features like dynamic shadows based on the angle of light hitting an iPhone screen. Apple's concept was revealed this week in a new patent application discovered by AppleInsider. Entitled 'Three Dimensional User Interface Effects on a Display by Using Properties of Motion,' it describes a system relying on a number of sensors, including eye tracking with a forward facing camera, to display a user interface that automatically reacts to the world around it."
In the most recent post, Hughes writes that the patent is for a "unique user interface for iOS, allowing new features like dynamic shadows based on the angle of light hitting an iPhone screen."
To be honest, dynamic shadows seems a bit underwhelming.
He includes an excerpt from Apple's patent filing: "However, current [3D] systems do not take into account the location and position of the device on which the virtual 3D environment is being rendered, in addition to the location and position of the user of the device, as well as the physical and lighting properties of the user's environment in order to render a more interesting and visually appealing interactive virtual 3D environment on the device's display."
It wasn't long before the correct implications were drawn, as International Business Times proclaimed: "iPhone 5 to Boast of 3-D Interactive Screen?"
IBT writer Anthony Myers clearly is deeply stirred by the Promise of Technology. "The new virtual interface takes advantage of Kinect-like motion sensors and face recognition software to follow along with where your eyes are looking," he writes. "It could even do things like expand icons when your eyes move across them. Additionally, those same icons could appear to have their own shadows, depending on where the surrounding light is coming from."
Rollup is especially intrigued by the implications of swelling icons through eyeballing. But there's more.
"In turn, these effects would be key to things like gaming on the iPhone and the new feature would alter the smartphone landscape in a way only Apple seems capable of," Myers gushes.
iPhone 5 tester invitation is a scam: public service announcement
An SMS message now making the rounds, inviting people to apply to become an iPhone 5 tester, and promising a free iPhone 5, is unsurprisingly a lie.
A batch of websites are reporting the scam, including GottaBeMobile.
"If you received a text message asking you to be a part of the iPhone 5 test program, don't respond to it or follow any links contained in it unless you want to get spam until you change your number," warns Josh Smith. Here's what the SMS message typically looks like.
The lure is: Join the test program and you get to keep the iPhone 5 you tested. To do so, you have to click on a link, which puts you on a Web page requesting your email address.
The two variants of the message start with "Apple needs iPhone5 testers ...," which should be an instant giveaway: When does Apple "need" anything from consumers?
John Cox covers wireless networking and mobile computing for Network World. Twitter: http://twitter.com/johnwcoxnww Email: firstname.lastname@example.orgBlog RSS feed: http://www.networkworld.com/community/blog/2989/feed
Read more about anti-malware in Network World's Anti-malware section.