Wednesday, January 17, 2018
Business

Huge leak about Apple's 'iPhone X' comes days before its big debut

A huge leak that appears to be from within Apple has revealed information about devices and features that the company plans to announce at a major event today, including details about a high-end version of the iPhone that will be called the "iPhone X."

Over the weekend, two Apple-focused blogs, 9to5Mac and MacRumors, published information pulled from what appears to be the final build of Apple's iOS 11 operating system. The software indicates that Apple will release three phones today: the iPhone 8, the iPhone 8 Plus and the iPhone X.

That fits with what many had expected, but not exactly: Most Apple observers had not expected Apple to skip over the "iPhone 7" name directly to iPhone 8. The leaks also gave details about the Apple Watch, the AirPod earbuds and a new type of emoji.

Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the leaks.

The disclosures come just ahead of a major launch at Apple's new corporate campus, Apple Park, which will celebrate the iPhone's 10th anniversary and stands to be a crucial opportunity for the company to erase the perception that it can no longer innovate.

The information that was released, according to developers, appears to come from Apple's servers through long, complicated Web addresses that would be very difficult to find without inside knowledge of where they are. Several Apple developers online agree that the software appears genuine and confirms several rumored features for the high-end phone, including wireless charging, a new type of screen, more camera options for portrait shots and an advanced facial-recognition system.

The leaks also showed a new version of the Apple Watch with some 4G connectivity, meaning the watches won't have to be tethered completely to a phone. Other features exposed by the leak include "animoji" — animated emojis that mimic a user's facial features — and new wireless AirPods that sport an external display to show their battery level.

Surprise is a key element to a successful Apple event, and this leak could take some wind out of its sails as it looks to wow consumers with the big debut today. That, some longtime Apple watchers suggest, may have been the leaker's intention.

"Someone within Apple leaked the list of URLs to 9to5Mac and MacRumors. I'm nearly certain this wasn't a mistake, but rather a deliberate malicious act by a rogue Apple employee," John Gruber said on his blog Daring Fireball.

The BBC said it had confirmed, through unnamed sources, that the links for the build had been leaked to the media, rather than found by chance.

Yet while these revelations may dampen the suspense for Apple's event, it's unlikely that they will affect sales.

For Apple, "There is such insatiable demand for even the smallest details and such an obsessive fan-following of its products that even a very detailed leak will do little to dampen the enthusiasm of bloggers and others to report its news," analyst Ben Wood of CCS Insight told the BBC.

Leaks have plagued Apple in the past, most notably in 2010, when an engineer left a prototype iPhone 4 in a bar ahead of its release. Plugging such leaks has been a stated focus of Apple chief executive Tim Cook. In fact, the last major leak from Apple was an audio recording of a company meeting earlier this year focused on stopping leakers.

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