A foldable iPhone: Will Apple bend to the trend?

In this week’s Apple Core rundown, we’ll take a look at how Apple fits into the foldable phone trend, the hurdles it has to clear to make an iPhone bend, and how soon the company could release a competitor to Samsung’s Galaxy Fold. We’ll also learn about the latest health feature rumored to be coming to the Apple Watch, the latest non-Apple product that could be getting Apple Music support, and the 10 winning pics from Apple’s Shot on iPhone Challenge photography contest have been revealed.

Will Apple launch a foldable iPhone?

The foldable phone trend has taken 2019 by storm, with companies such as Samsung, Huawei and FlexPai unveiling the bendable devices that will soon be in consumers’ hands. The verdict is still out on whether these foldables represent the future of smartphones, but if it is, a flexible iPhone can’t be too far behind.

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There’s been plenty of evidence that Apple is interested in making a foldable phone. The company has foldable phone patents that date back to 2011, with blueprints for a hinged phone that can bend in half similar to Samsung’s Galaxy Fold. Apple even got its first patent for a foldable device approved in 2014, according to the United States Patent and Trademark Office. This year Apple registered what seems to be an extension of those original designs, with more details that show the device folding out as well as in. But Apple may choose to take it a step further. Another patent discovered by My Smart Price shows a flexible device with a wraparound display that can take different shapes. And in case you’re having a hard time picturing a bendable iPhone, Dutch industrial designer Roy Gilsing created some pretty realistic renders published in Foldable.News that show what this could look like.

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www.foldable.news / Concept by Roy Gilsing Design

Still, there are a few hurdles the company has to clear before a foldable iPhone becomes a reality.

The first and perhaps the most important one is Apple’s screen issue. It’s no secret that Apple relies on Samsung for some of the OLED screens for its newer iPhones. According to Goldman Sachs analysts cited in Business Insider, Samsung is not willing to share its foldable screen tech just yet, especially not with its biggest rival.

In the meantime, Apple has reportedly chosen LG as a secondary screen manufacturer, a company that has also been experimenting with foldable screen technology for TVs, but it may be a few years behind Samsung when it comes to phones.

Then there’s the issue with materials. Most of the foldables phones announced so far use some kind of polymer blend to cover their screens, aka plastic. But given Apple’s long-standing relationship with glass-maker Corning, it’s doubtful the company would cover its screens with plastic, even if it means waiting until the company can develop a bendable glass solution to fit their needs. Based on our recent trip to Corning’s HQ, we know the company has already developed bendable glass, but it still cant fold completely in half like the plastic on some of these other devices coming to the market.

And lastly, there’s the user experience. It’s unlikely Apple would choose to launch a foldable iPhone unless the software was in place to support it. This means the company would first have to open up the platform to developers to start envisioning what this foldable experience would look like on an iPhone.

All this to say, we’re not getting a foldable iPhone in 2019. Some say 2020 could be an option, but even that seems like a stretch given these limitations. Apple will inevitably be late to the bendable phone game, but it may not be that bad. Our own Roger Cheng pointed out in his commentary that foldable phones right now are a bit of a tease, with hefty price tags, limited availability and potentially buggy software.

The Apple Watch will soon track sleep

The next Apple Watch may finally be going to bed with you. Apple is rumored to be testing out its new sleep-tracking features in secret sites around its Cupertino HQ, according to a recent Bloomberg report.

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Angela Lang/CNET

But don’t expect to see overnight results. The report says also says that these sleep feature may not come until 2020. Before launching any new health feature, Apple is known to put it through rigorous laboratory testing, which could take a while. Plus the company would still have to figure out a way to extend the battery life on the Apple Watch to accommodate 24-hour tracking. The current Apple Watches can barely make it a full 24 hours between top-ups, and still require overnight charging while other competitors with similar sleep-tracking features can go up to one week on a charge. Samsung, Garmin and Fitbit have had a sleep-tracking features that measure both the quantity and quality of your sleep in their wearable devices for years now, but the only way to analyze your zzz’s on the Apple Watch has been with third-party apps.

Will Apple Music get a new Home?

For a very brief moment in time, Google Home users could have caught a glimpse of Apple Music on the Google Home mobile app. And though the button to link the account didn’t actually work, it got everyone thinking that maybe Apple Music would be coming to the Google Home. Shortly after the news broke, though, Google dismissed that idea in a statement to Bloomberg, saying it was all due to a software bug and that the company had nothing to announce. In an earlier statement, Google mentioned that Apple Music is currently only available for Google Assistant users on mobile phones.

Either way, Apple Music on the Google Home wouldn’t be too much of a stretch, as Apple continues to grow its services business beyond Apple products. Android users have been able to download the Apple Music app for a while, and it recently became available on the Amazon Echo. This year Apple also announced that new Samsung Smart TVs will be getting access to iTunes, and Airplay 2 will become available in other smart TVs in 2019.

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One of the winning shots from the #ShotoniPhone campaign.


Elizabeth Scarrott

Results from the Shot on iPhone competition

Ten lucky iPhone users will soon have their pictures displayed on billboards and in Apple stores all over the world. This week Apple published the results of its #ShotOniPhone photography competition, where regular users were invited to submit their best shots.

The group of winners came from different countries including Germany, Israel, Singapore, Belarus and the US, and not all were photographers by trade. The shots ranged from black-and-white landscapes to colorful close-ups of water drops on glass, and not all of them came from the latest iPhone model. Two were shot on the iPhone 7, and one was shot on the iPhone 8 Plus.  

After a bit of controversy over the fact that the competition didn’t mention compensating the artist, Apple said the winners will receive a licensing fee for their work, but didn’t reveal the exact amount. 

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