DigiTimes: Apple Partnering With Valve to Develop AR Headset

DigiTimes is reporting this morning that Apple has partnered with U.S. game developer Valve to develop its rumored AR headset, which is expected to launch next year.


Apple reportedly has partnered with US game developer Valve to develop AR head-mounted display devices, which may be released in the second half of 2020 at the earliest, with Taiwan's ODMs Quanta Computer and Pegatron said to handle the assembly job, according to industry sources.
Creator of the popular Steam digital storefront and delivery platform, Valve launched Steam machine consoles in 2015 and released its first VR headset, Valve Index, in April 2019.

Notably, Valve worked with Apple in 2017 to bring native VR headset support to macOS High Sierra, leveraging the operating system's then-new eGPU support with a Mac version of Valve's SteamVR software. However, Apple's latest partnership with the company is said to be focused on AR, not VR.
Apple will cooperate with Valve on AR headsets rather than VR devices, as its CEO Tim Cook believes that AR can make digital content become part of the user's world and will be as popular as smartphones with consumers. This has also promoted Apple to step up the development of AR software by recruiting more engineers for graphic design, system interface and system architecture segments.
Back in July, DigiTimes reported that Apple had temporarily stopped developing AR/VR headsets and that the team working on them was disbanded in May and reassigned to other product developments.

However, according to the latest information from the Taiwan website's sources, Apple was actually in the process of shifting from in-house development to collaborative development with Valve.

Just last month, respected Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said Apple was cooperating with third-party brands to launch its first head-mounted AR product. Kuo believes Apple's AR headset is rumored to enter mass production as soon as the fourth quarter of this year in time for an early 2020 launch.

Code found in Xcode 11 and iOS 13 as recently as September has confirmed that Apple is still working on an augmented reality headset of some kind. In addition, there is an icon within the internal Find My app bundlede picting what appears to be an AR or VR headset that looks similar to the Google Cardboard.

MacRumors concept of Apple Glasses

Kuo has said Apple's glasses would be marketed as an iPhone accessory and primarily take a display role while wirelessly offloading computing, networking, and positioning to the iPhone.

As early as November 2017, Bloomberg's Mark Gurman reported that Apple's headset would run a custom iOS-based operating system dubbed "rOS" for "reality operating system." At the time, Gurman said Apple had not finalized how users would control the headset, but possibilities included touchscreens, Siri voice activation, and head gestures.

Apple originally aimed to have its AR product ready by 2019, but the company is said to have been relaxed about not shipping a product until 2020.

Quanta Computer and Pegatron are said to be handling the manufacturing and assembly job for Apple's headset. Quanta can reportedly produce AR headsets at a lower cost by leveraging camera lens technology licensed by Lumus, according to today's report.

DigiTimes' sources often provide reliable information, but the site has a mixed track record when it comes to interpreting that information and accurately deciphering Apple's plans, so treat this report with the necessary degree of skepticism for now until we can corroborate it from other sources.

Related Roundup: Apple Glasses

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Apple Said to Receive 16-Inch MacBook Pro Shipments This Quarter, Launch Timing Remains Unclear

While it is unclear if the widely rumored 16-inch MacBook Pro will launch in 2019 or 2020, the latest report from DigiTimes claims that Apple will begin receiving volume shipments of the notebook in the fourth quarter of this year. Taiwan-based manufacturer Quanta Computer is said to be the key supplier.

The report reiterates that the 16-inch MacBook Pro will have an ultra-thin-bezel design, suggesting the overall size of the notebook might be similar to the existing 15-inch MacBook Pro despite having a larger display.

16-inch MacBook Pro concept by MacRumors

Apple receiving volume shipments of the 16-inch MacBook Pro in the fourth quarter does not necessarily mean the notebook will launch in the fourth quarter. Apple may simply be planning to stockpile the 16-inch MacBook Pro ahead of the U.S. government's proposed 15 percent import tariff on an additional round of Chinese goods, including notebooks, slated to take effect December 15.

Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo originally said the 16-inch MacBook Pro would launch in the fourth quarter of 2019 with an all-new design, including a scissor switch keyboard. As of late, however, Kuo has more vaguely stated that a "new MacBook model" with a scissor keyboard will launch in mid 2020. It's unclear if the "new MacBook model" that Kuo has referred to more recently is the 16-inch MacBook Pro.

Multiple images corresponding to a 16-inch MacBook Pro have been found in macOS Catalina in recent weeks, including one that reveals that Touch ID will likely be separated from the Touch Bar on the notebook.


The leaked Touch Bar design lends credence to the Esc key also being a separate, physical key again, as can be seen when zooming in to the previously leaked 16-inch MacBook Pro icon.


MacRumors has confirmed the location of the Touch Bar image in macOS Catalina. The filename includes "Device16."


DigiTimes previously said the 16-inch MacBook Pro would launch by the end of October, and today is the final day of the month. The site does not have the best track record when it comes to the timing of new Apple products, but its connections within Apple's supply chain are occasionally accurate.

Related Roundup: MacBook Pro
Buyer's Guide: MacBook Pro (Caution)

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DigiTimes: 5G Era to Usher in Wide Adoption of Higher Refresh Rate Smartphone Displays

Back in July, we reported on a rumor that Apple is considering using a switchable 60Hz/120Hz refresh rate screen on its 2020 iPhones, allowing for a smoother on-screen experience. DigiTimes now reports that industry observers believe many 5G-era smartphones are likely to use upgraded displays capable of up to 120Hz refresh rates, reigniting speculation that next year's iPhones could use Apple's ProMotion display tech.


However, DigiTimes notes that whether Apple will adopt displays with a 120Hz refresh rate "remains to be seen."
The arrival of 5G is ushering in hardware upgrades to support related applications and services. It is expected more 5G smartphones will come with displays offering high refresh rates that can enhance user experience. It remains to be seen whether Apple will launch its first 5G iPhone in 2020, or will adopt displays with 120Hz refresh rate...
The DigiTimes article bases its prediction on the penetration rate of over 120Hz panels in the gaming notebook segment. Observers note that this has surpassed 30 percent and is still growing, which is prompting panel makers to step into the sector and develop panels with refresh rates ranging from 120Hz to 240Hz.

The gaming-oriented Razer Phone 2 has such a panel with a fast refresh rate, while Asustek's ROG Phone II, which launched in the second half of 2019, also boasts one. DigiTimes also notes that the Google's Pixel 4 comes with a 90Hz display and Sharp's recently released Aquos R3 features a 6.2-inch IGZO 120Hz display, while several Chinese brands are expected to roll out models with higher refresh rates in 2020.


Having a similar display on a new iPhone without sacrificing battery life would obviously be a big draw. Apple already uses variable refresh rate technology in its iPad Pro models, and markets the tech under the moniker "ProMotion," which it says dynamically adjusts the display to the movement of content for fluid scrolling, greater responsiveness, and smoother motion. It does all this on the fly, which means it also conserves battery life.

Of course, Apple's ‌iPad Pro‌ models use LCD panels rather than OLED, and rumors have suggested Apple will complete its transition to an all-OLED iPhone lineup in 2020 with new 5.4-inch, 6.1-inch, and 6.7-inch devices.

If Apple is indeed in discussion with Samsung and LG to bring a ProMotion-style screen to a new breed of OLED iPhones, as one leaker claimed earlier this year, then it would raise next year's smartphone performance bar even higher.

Related Roundup: iPhone 12

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Foxconn and Compal Will Reportedly Assemble ‘Apple Watch Series 6’ Models Next Year

Foxconn and Compal Electronics have obtained orders to assemble 2020 models of the Apple Watch, which would be Series 6 models if Apple sticks to its naming scheme, according to industry sources cited by DigiTimes. The report adds that Luxshare Precision will likely take orders for older Apple Watch models.


A preview of the upcoming report:
Compal, Foxconn land orders for next-gen Apple Watch:
Compal Electronics and Foxconn Technology Group (Hon Hai Precision Industry) have obtained orders for the 2020 series of Apple Watch, while China-based Luxshare ICT will likely take orders for old-generation Apple Watch devices, according to industry sources.
This news follows another DigiTimes report that claimed Quanta Computer will likely stop assembling the Apple Watch in 2020 due to alleged "profit concerns." Quanta has been a primary Apple Watch manufacturer since 2015.

Apple Watch Series 6 rumors are still slim, but it has been reported that Apple has a team of biomedical engineers working on a method for non-invasively monitoring blood glucose levels using optical sensors, technology that could potentially make its way into the Apple Watch at some point in the future.

MacRumors also discovered references to sleep tracking on the Apple Watch being developed internally, with Bloomberg claiming the functionality could be released in 2020 if testing is successful. Apple accidentally mentioned an unreleased Sleep app for watchOS in an App Store screenshot earlier this month.

Rumors suggest 2020 could also be the year the Apple Watch gets a MicroLED display, and if true, Series 6 models could potentially have thinner, brighter, and more power efficient displays compared to current OLED models.

Apple just released Series 5 models in September, with key new features including an always-on display, a new Compass app, international emergency calling on cellular models, 32GB of internal storage, and new titanium and ceramic casing options. Series 6 models would likely arrive in September 2020.

Related Roundups: Apple Watch, watchOS 6
Buyer's Guide: Apple Watch (Buy Now)

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DigiTimes: 16-Inch MacBook Pro to Launch by End of October With Ultra-Slim Bezels and Scissor Keyboard

Apple's widely rumored 16-inch MacBook Pro will be available by the end of October, suggesting that an announcement is imminent, according to supply chain sources cited by hit-or-miss industry publication DigiTimes.

16-inch MacBook Pro concept by MacRumors

The report claims Taiwanese manufacturer Quanta Computer has already begun volume shipments of the 16-inch MacBook Pro, which the supply chain sources expect to feature a more reliable scissor keyboard, an "ultra-thin bezel design," and Intel's latest Coffee Lake Refresh or Ice Lake processors, although Intel has yet to announce Ice Lake chips appropriate for a high-end MacBook Pro.

The slimmer bezels would result in the 16-inch MacBook Pro being around the same size as the existing 15-inch model despite having a larger display. IHS Markit analyst Jeff Lin said the notebook's resolution will be 3,072x1,920 pixels.

Last week, icons depicting a MacBook Pro with slimmer bezels in Silver and Space Gray were uncovered in the macOS Catalina 10.15.1 beta, lending credence to an upcoming release. Both icons were created just over a week ago, have "16" in the filename, and reference an unreleased MacBookPro16,1 model.

15-inch MacBook Pro icon on left, possible 16-inch MacBook Pro icon on right via MacGeneration

Apple's plans to release a 16-inch MacBook Pro were first revealed by Ming-Chi Kuo, who back in February said the notebook would be released in 2019. Kuo later said the notebook would be equipped with a scissor keyboard. Bloomberg's Mark Gurman has also reported that the notebook is coming in 2019.

Apple is expected to position the 16-inch MacBook Pro at the high end of its notebook lineup, with existing 15-inch and 13-inch MacBook Pro models remaining available and following suit with scissor keyboards in 2020, according to Kuo.

Related Roundup: MacBook Pro
Buyer's Guide: MacBook Pro (Caution)

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Quanta Reportedly Likely to Stop Assembling the Apple Watch in 2020 Due to Profit Concerns

Quanta Computer will likely stop taking assembly orders for the Apple Watch at some point in 2020 due to profit concerns, and may sell its manufacturing plant in Changshu, China dedicated to assembling the wearable device, according to industry sources cited by Taiwanese publication DigiTimes.


The full DigiTimes story is not yet available, but a paywalled preview reads as follows:
Quanta may stop assembly for ‌Apple Watch‌ in 2020, say sources:
Quanta Computer is likely to stop taking assembly orders for the ‌Apple Watch‌ next year due to profit concerns, and may sell its Changshu plant in China dedicated to assembling the wearable device, according to industry sources.
Quanta has been the primary manufacturer of the ‌Apple Watch‌ since the original model was released in 2015, while Compal Electronics reportedly became a secondary supplier starting with Series 4 models last year.

Related Roundups: Apple Watch, watchOS 6
Buyer's Guide: Apple Watch (Buy Now)

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Apple on Course to Retake Second Place in Global Smartphone Vendor Ranking

Apple is on course to recapture second place from Huawei in the global smartphone vendor ranking in the fourth quarter of 2019, reports DigiTimes.


The change in ranking is said to be a combined effect of strong sales of Apple's iPhone 11 lineup and the impact of Huawei's trade ban in the United States.

Despite being blacklisted by the U.S. government in the middle of the second quarter this year, Huawei has managed to ship 60 million handsets, which is around the same amount it shipped in the previous quarter, according to data from Gartner.

However, as the trade ban drags on, Huawei is expect to see sales slide over the second half of this year. Gartner estimates that shipments could fall to about 50 million units in the third quarter, before bouncing back to 60 million units going into the holiday period.

According to IDC, Apple shipped 36 million iPhones in Q1 2019. Sales are said to have dropped to 34 million in the second quarter, with an expected slide to 30 million units in Q3 as people waited for Apple's next-generation flagship devices, iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro, and iPhone 11 Pro Max.

But with reports of higher-than-expected sales of its iPhone 11 lineup both domestically and abroad, Apple could see its handset shipments reach 70 million units in the fourth quarter, which would exceed the 60 million units Huawei is expected to ship in Q4 2019.

Related Roundups: iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro

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DigiTimes: Next-Generation AirPods to Enter Production as Early as October

Apple's suppliers are gearing up to assemble next-generation AirPods as early as October, according to industry sources cited by DigiTimes, suggesting an updated version of the earphones could arrive in time for the holiday shopping season.


DigiTimes shared a short preview of its story today:
Assembling for new-gen AirPods to kick off as early as October
Apple's suppliers are gearing up for assembling for the next-generation AirPods as early as October, according to industry sources.
The full story should be available within the next few days. We'll update this post if there are any additional details to share.

In April, noted Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said two new AirPods models would likely go into mass production between the fourth quarter of 2019 and the first quarter of 2020, with Luxshare, Goertek, and Amkor serving as primary suppliers.

Kuo believes one of the new AirPods models will feature an "all-new form factor design" and a "higher price" than the second-generation AirPods, which cost $159 with a standard charging case and $199 with a wireless charging case. The other model is expected to be a more iterative update with the same pricing.

If new AirPods do launch later this year, they will likely be the more iterative pair that Kuo referred to, as Bloomberg's Mark Gurman expects the higher-priced AirPods with water resistance and noise cancelation to launch as early as 2020. It's unclear what features would be part of the iterative update.

In March, Apple released second-generation AirPods powered by an Apple-designed H1 chip, enabling hands-free "Hey Siri" functionality and up to 50 percent more talk time compared to the original AirPods. The second-generation AirPods feature the same outward design as the original.

Related Roundup: AirPods 2
Buyer's Guide: AirPods (Buy Now)

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2019 iPhones Said to Feature Larger Batteries Up to 3,500 mAh, Next iPhone XS May Have Dual Nano-SIM in China

Apple is widely expected to unveil three new iPhones in just under three weeks, and ahead of time, Taiwanese supply chain publication DigiTimes has shared a laundry list of its expectations for the devices.


The paywalled report corroborates several existing rumors, including the 2019 iPhones having the same display sizes as the 2018 lineup, including 5.8-inch OLED, 6.5-inch OLED, and 6.1-inch LCD models. All three iPhones are said to feature Face ID, with no changes to the notch area and no 3D Touch.

DigiTimes also expects the 2019 iPhones to feature A13 processors manufactured based on TSMC's 7nm process, two-way charging of wearables like the Apple Watch and AirPods on the back of the iPhones, and new colors, in line with a previous rumor of new green and lavender finishes for the next iPhone XR.

The report adds that battery capacities will increase to around 3,200 mAh, 3,500 mAh, and 3,000 mAh for the next iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, and iPhone XR respectively, which would be around 20 percent, 10 percent, and two percent larger than the batteries in the equivalent 2018 iPhones.

Korean website The Elec previously claimed the next iPhone XR will sport a 3,110 mAh battery, which could still be accurate given that DigiTimes appears to be roughly estimating its reported capacities.

And, of course, more cameras. The next iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max models are widely expected to sport triple-lens rear cameras, while the next iPhone XR is rumored to gain a dual-lens rear camera. On the higher-end models, the third lens is rumored to enable a "0.5x" ultra-wide-angle viewfinder.

Much of this information has already been outlined by respected analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, including two-way charging and battery capacities increasing by roughly the percentages outlined above, but this information from the DigiTimes Research division in Taiwan adds further credence as the new iPhones near launch.

The report does outline one new possibility, claiming that Apple may release a 5.8-inch iPhone with dual nano-SIM support this year, which would likely be limited to the Chinese market. Last year, Apple released the iPhone XS Max and iPhone XR with dual nano-SIM slots in China, but the iPhone XS lacked this.

All three iPhones feature dual SIM support in other countries by way of a single nano-SIM paired with an eSIM inside the device. This functionality enables iPhone users to have two phone numbers available at once, which is useful for travel or having both personal and work lines on a single iPhone.

Tuesday, September 10 is the widely predicted date of Apple's event, with invites to the media likely to be issued towards the end of August. MacRumors will have live coverage of the keynote as usual.

For more rumors, read our 2019 iPhones roundup.

Related Roundup: 2019 iPhones

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DigiTimes: Apple to Launch MacBooks with Cellular 5G Connectivity in Second Half of 2020

Apple is working on a range of MacBooks with 5G cellular connectivity for launch as early as next year, claims a new report today by DigiTimes.


According to the hit-and-miss Taiwanese publication, Lenovo, HP, and Dell will kick off the 5G laptop market later this year, and Apple is set to follow with its own high-speed cellular notebook in the second half of 2020.
The world's top-3 notebook vendors Lenovo, HP and Dell are set to introduce their first 5G models in the second half of 2019, and Apple is also expected to roll out its 5G MacBook series in the second half of 2020, according to industry sources.
The English version of the DigiTimes story is currently paywalled, so the following details are based on a machine-translation of the same report on DigiTimes Taiwan.

DigiTimes' notebook supply chain connections claim that Apple has finalized its integrated 5G MacBook design and though it did so later than other vendors, its 5G transceiver offers higher efficiency and superior high-speed transmission rates than rival designs.

According to DigiTimes' sources, Apple is achieving better 5G performance in its notebook designs through the use of a ceramic antenna board, which costs six times that of a regular metal antenna board but offers twice the transmission and reception efficiency.

Another reason a 5G-enabled MacBook is expected to be high is reportedly down to the case: A metal chassis shields the 5G signal, meaning the notebook would require 13 to 15 antennas, where a 5G smartphone typically uses 11.

This is the first time we've heard anything about Apple planning to launch a MacBook with 5G, and DigiTimes has a mixed track record in relation to reporting on Apple's future plans, so it's best to treat its rumors with some skepticism until the info is corroborated by additional sources.

That said, Apple has explored the possibility of developing MacBooks with cellular connectivity in the past. Indeed, the company reportedly considered launching a MacBook Air with 3G connectivity, but former CEO Steve Jobs said in 2008 that Apple decided against it, since it would take up too much room in the case and would lock customers to a specific carrier. Plus owners who wanted to could always use a USB modem and choose their own carrier.

Apple patent describing MacBook with integrated LTE

Despite retreating from the idea, Apple received approval for two patents in 2016 that would enable it to add LTE connectivity to its MacBooks. Both describe the use of an installed "cavity" antenna that runs parallel with the notebook's hinge which could be used for long-range communications such as cellular telephone bands. The patents also describe other uses including near-field communications (NFC), light-based wireless connectivity, satellite navigation, and more.

While it appears that Apple and Qualcomm's multi-year licensing and chipset supply agreement will result in Qualcomm supplying modems for the first 5G-enabled iPhones, expected to launch in 2020, multiple reports have indicated that Apple is on the path to developing its own cellular modems.

Indeed, Apple recently announced that it plans to acquire the majority of Intel's smartphone modem business, subject to regulatory approvals. The acquisition will certainly benefit Apple's cellular technologies team, but whether it will factor in on any plans for a series of 5G MacBooks remains to be seen.


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