In the world of tech, there’s an increasingly fine line between truth and clickbait

When it comes to technology, separating fact from fiction has never been more difficult. Desperate to capture their next eye-grabbing title, journalists and writers alike are finding increasingly inventive ways of spinning otherwise press releases and reports into irresistible rumors. As these tech rumors usually relate to products and services that most of us can’t live without, even hardened sceptics succumb to the temptation to indulge in hearsay from time to time. More often than not, rumors vanish as mysteriously as they arose, leaving nothing but disappointment. Here’s a hype-free guide to 13 of the most exciting current tech rumors.

Rumor #1. Spotify is making smart speakers

Last year, a Spotify job listing for an ‘Operations Manager’ mentioned that the company was making an undisclosed ‘Hardware Product’. This promptly sent the tech rumor mill into overdrive; what was Spotify planning? Following the company’s IPO on April 3, rumors resurfaced that Spotify was building smart speakers.

Reality Check: Spotify is definitely working on some form of hardware – the multiple job postings for Senior Project Managers and Project Managers confirm as much. However, we still don’t know what it is or when it will be released.

According to Spotify’s most recent job listing, we know that they are looking for an operations manager who can ‘deliver the optimal Spotify experience’. While it is highly likely that Spotify is working on some form of smart speaker system, no formal announcements have yet been made.

Rumor #2. Samsung’s smart speaker will be released in 2018

Last August, Samsung’s DJ Koh confirmed that a smart speaker was in the works but it wasn’t until the Wall Street Journal chipped in with reports of a Q3 or Q4 2018 release date that this rumor really started popping.

Reality Check: This project undoubtedly exists but no smart speaker is planned for release this year.

The appeal of a Samsung smart speaker is having Bixby – it’s answer to Amazon’s Alexa – built in. While it is good news for Samsung fans that this project is underway, don’t expect to add it to your Christmas wish list this year at least.

Rumor #3. A Pixel-branded Google watch is on its way

While there are plenty of Android smart watches on the market to choose from, the rumor that a Google Pixel-branded watch is on its way has blown up since Evan Blass first ‘leaked’ news about it. The latest rumors from CNET indicate that an October 2018 release could be on the cards.

Reality Check: This rumor is actually pretty sound. Google make their big announcements every October to avoid head-to-head showdowns with Apple who release their new products a month earlier. The original Pixel phone was released in October 2016 while the much vaunted Pixel 2 arrived last October. It’s seems fairly likely that Google’s Pixel 3 phone will come out this October, and we could see the Google Pixel Wear OS smartwatch released at that time.

Rumor #4. The forthcoming Pixel 3 phone will feature an all-glass back and screen notch

Speaking of Google’s upcoming Pixel 3, the latest rumor to grace the pages of a popular Android forum concerned speculation about its appearance. According to reports, Google’s flagship handset will feature an iPhone X-esque screen notch and all-glass back.

Reality Check: This rumor seems to have been started by a Bloomberg report and appears highly plausible. Given the number of new handsets with these design details, we can assume these reports are largely accurate.

Rumor #5. Verizon is welcoming back Palm phones this year

According to a report from Android Police, TCL is bringing Palm devices back to life. Corbin Davenport revealed that, according to Stefan Streit, TCL’s Marketing Manager, there was a webOS-based Palm device in development.

Reality Check: It is true that TCL did indeed acquire the rights to the Palm name in 2015, but a release date for this device is far from clear. The source for David Ruddock’s article in March of this year was an anonymous source and there have been no official announcements from TCL to date.

Rumor #6. There could be a folding iPhone by 2020

As reported by CNBC, according to Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Apple is working on a folding phone that could be released as early as 2020.

Reality Check: The rumor that Apple is working on foldable tech is extremely plausible although the release date is nothing but hearsay.

The CNBC report was itself based on a Korean news article from last October that simply reported that both Apple and LG are working on bendable screen technology. Despite this article being based on unnamed sources, we know that both Samsung and Lenovo have revealed bendable prototypes.

Rumor #7. Could we see an iPhone SE 2 this year?

The iPhone SE, released in March of 2016, featured a 4-inch screen and an ‘affordable’ price tag of only $399. Last year saw the price drop and the storage options rise, so could we be looking at a SE2 this year? The Verge seems to think so.

Reality Check: It’s a question of ‘when’, not ‘if’ Apple updates the SE so this rumor seems plausible. As for the release date, no official announcements have been made.  

The genesis for the Verge’s article seems to be this video posted to YouTube. While the phone shown in the video may indeed show what the rumoured SE2 could look like, the chances are equally strong that it’s just a mock-up.

Rumor #8. Apple will phase out Intel chips by 2020

According to Bloomberg, Apple is planning to produce its own chip with the help of Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Ltd. (TSMC), possibly as early as 2020. 

Reality Check: Given Bloomberg’s impeccable track record for this type of information, this rumor seems highly likely despite the lack of any sort of official announcement from Apple.

TSMC made an announcement earlier this year that it had begun product of 7nm chips for mobile phones. Although TSMC’s customer wasn’t officially named, it is widely believed to be Apple. With 7nm phone chips headed for iPhones this fall, the move into laptop chips by 2020 seems highly likely.  

Rumor #9. A sub-$400 Microsoft Surface tablet is headed for stores this year

A recent Bloomberg report indicates that Microsoft is developing a 10-inch Surface tablet that could compete directly with Apple’s iPad. Despite the 2012 Surface RT not living up to expectations, could Microsoft be planning to renter this space in 2018?

Reality Check: Despite no official announcement from Microsoft, the pedigree of the source – Bloomberg – gives weight to this rumor.

Rumor #10. Goodbye Lightning port, hello USB-C

According to Digitimes, Apple is planning to drop the Lightning connector on all iPhones by 2019. The replacement? USB-C ports.

Reality Check: The sources of this rumor are anonymous and it seems pretty flimsy. Taking the industry as a whole, adoption of USB-C ports has been dismal so far. It’s difficult to envisage Apple incorporating the larger USB-C port into its devices when it went to the trouble of removing the 3.5mm headphone jack just to save space in its flagship models. iMore writer Rene Ritchie’s excellent rundown of why Apple probably won’t go USB-C is highly recommended.  

Rumor #11. Honda partnering with Waymo to build an autonomous car
Rumors that Honda is planning to develop an autonomous car started when Waymo’s CEO, John Krafcik made a statement during a trade show, according to a Bloomberg report. According to Krafcik, Honda and Waymo are partnering to develop an all-new self-driving vehicle.

Reality Check: While it’s true that Waymo and Honda announced talks in 2016 and are currently ‘nearing a final deal’, according Bloomberg, this doesn’t necessarily mean that a self-driving car is in the offing. According to a Honda spokesman, the companies are ‘exploring’ the relationship. Krafcik hinted that the new vehicle may not be a car and may not have a steering wheel.

Rumor #12. How about an Apple autonomous car? There’s a VR headset for that.

A patent application was recently jumped upon by Venture Beat as evidence that Apple was developing a VR system for use inside autonomous vehicles. Although few details are known, such a device would presumably entertain otherwise bored occupants.

Reality Check: Apple has a vast array of intellectual property and hold patents for many products that have never reached the production stage. The most we can say about this is that the patent is real but the VR headset has no firm or rumoured released date. According to CNET, Apple is working on an AR/VR headset for a proposed 2020 release.

Rumor #13. Tesla’s Model Y car will be released in 2020 as a way of solving manufacturing problems.  

Tesla has suffered from real problems in terms of scaling production of its Model 3. In a recent interview, Musk suggested that trying to automate too much, too soon had been one factor. Musk confirmed that a new car, Model Y was currently in prototype phase, sparking rumors of a 2020 release date and an end to Tesla’s production woes.

Reality Check: Musk originally set a monthly production target of 5,000 Model 3’s by the end of last year. However, as reported by CNBC, a leaked email suggests that this target may be met by the end of this quarter. Tesla’s production problems will be fixed long before the Model Y prototype goes into trials and testing.

Conclusion
Ultimately, rumors are fun but it pays to take them with a grain of salt. While some are nothing but clickbait, our realist’s rundown proves that some rumors are pretty close to the mark. What are your views? Which rumors did we miss? Let us know in the comments below!

 

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