Apple begins removing traces of upcoming products from iOS

By , Jun 18, 2012

It looks like Tim Cook wasn’t joking underscoring Apple would “double down on secrecy” during his fireside chat with Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher at the D10: All Things D conference. As noted by TUAW, the latest beta of iOS 6 lacks certain references to future Apple devices that have long been the staple of the rumor mill’s crystal ball peering. Not like this changes anything, mind you…

The USBDeviceConfiguration.plist file in iOS is typically the place to look for hints as it contains a bunch of string references to current and unreleased Apple hardware.

For example, in iOS 5 betas an “iPhone4,1″ reference alluded to an unreleased iPhone model, a major revision, which later became known as the iPhone 4S. The USBDeviceConfiguration.plist file is still there, Apple just removed all traces of unknown hardware.

Last December, Apple played a practical joke on eagle-eyed journalists who relentlessly comb through the closely-watched configuration file. Jokers as they are, Apple planted dozens of references to fake products, like “iPad10,1″, “iPhone11,3″, “iPod11,1″ and “AppleTV8,3″.

Of course, Apple’s latest move won’t stop people from trying. More importantly, hints to unreleased hardware can still be found in other locations in iOS, for those who know where to look.

If anything, this is Apple’s way of telling us that they’re serious about not helping the media guesstimate what they’re working on.

Why double down on secrecy?


Apple may remove evidence of upcoming products from iOS code as much as it wants, but this won’t stop people from envisioning what the next iPhone could look like.

For starters, it kills the surprise factor.

A good example is the new iOS 6 Maps app which completely leaked out ahead of the WWDC announcement, as did a number of other headline features.

Secondly, rumors – especially if fake – provide Apple with tons of free coverage otherwise worth tens of millions of dollars.

Unfortunately for Apple, removing code references does nothing: credible publications have their moles at 1 Infinite Loop and Cupertino will have to significantly strengthen their CIA-grade internal security measures.

A good example of this is 9to5Mac, a well-connected publication with deeply entrenched sources where I used to work as News Editor prior to my iDB gig.

As noted by Businessweek, 9to5Mac (in spite of hate talk) pretty much leaked everything there was to leak about Apple’s keynote announcements, completely ruining the surprise factor.

Too much rumors and guessing work can affect Apple’s bottom line.

Take last year’s wild speculation concerning the iPhone 5 which called for an all-new form factor and summer introduction. These baseless stories, however, did manage to convince a bunch of people to withhold their planned purchases, causing a notable dip in September quarter iPhone sales.

Even CEO Tim Cook said as much in a conference call with investors.

In a repeat of 2011, analysts now warn that crazy rumors and nonsensical reporting surrounding the next iPhone could also impact summer sales.

So why is iDB covering this rumor biz?

Firstly, most of our surveyed readers voted for rumor coverage in a poll.

Secondly, without rumors there would be little to report on in terms of factual news as Apple never announces or comments on unreleased products.

And finally, some rumors prove true and as such are an integral part of any comprehensive coverage.

Without rumors, tech reporting would be a lot less fun.

Plus, we do our best to separate rumors from facts and we trust our readers can digest all the pieces of information we present and form their own opinion.

What do you think, is it possible to really obscure all pieces of valid evidence from iOS betas?

  • Share:
  • Follow:
  • http://tavlen.tk/ Mathias Lindberg

    It would be really awesome if you made a “Rumor” section, so we didn’t have to see no headlines or anything like that. Your coverage, especially on tweaks is awesome, but rumors certainly ruin all the fun :-(

    • http://twitter.com/therealjdizzle Jason Masters

      Have to say I agree rumors are like gossip and it does ruin the fun

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1332728607 Omar D. Plumey

      Stop being a baby.

      • http://tavlen.tk/ Mathias Lindberg

        Shoo. If you don’t have something real to Disqus, don’t say anything.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000036257084 Umut Saglam

    Without rumors, it would be just plain boring site.
    There would be only every month something about Apple ;P
    So I prefer every 2-3 days rumors which gives me some ideas, expectations,….

    • http://www.youtube.com/Tr1pTr0p Tr1pTr0p

      So this site has nothing to report on except for rumors and predictions? God forbid they report on Cydia tweaks, App Store apps, discounts, and, most importantly, ACTUAL NEWS! We can’t have that, nooo! /sarcasm
      You can have ideas and expectations without all the leaks and meaningless, pointless rumors, very often based on nothing.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1595420643 Simche Apple Konstantinovic

        Would be awesome if Idb could have a “daily app” recommendations, it could be anything from games to photography app :) Would be cool to discover new good apps, cause app store doesn’t really get me to discover new apps :/

  • http://www.youtube.com/Tr1pTr0p Tr1pTr0p

    “Without rumors, tech reporting would be a lot less fun.”
    So says the person who earns money from people clicking their articles, reading retarded rumors that turn out, as you said, true and ruin the surprise for everyone. Oh yes, taking the surprise factor away sure is a looot of fun for everybody! Get real! :/

  • Latinpride011

    Don’t mind the rumors that much… Gives us an idea of what we can expect from apple.. If you don’t like the rumors, then don’t click on the link. Simple and plain

    • http://www.facebook.com/nihasnebas Nihas Nebas

      it tempts the people to click on those links……………………..cmon its apple ;)

  • http://www.facebook.com/foued.setifien Foued Sétifien

    Lot of people Think that iOS 6 is not what expected !! Why? Because everything in iOS 6 was known before WWDC, so NOTHING new for us, so in my opinion Rumors have a good and a Bad role in the same time.

  • http://twitter.com/MCaudebec Maxim∑

    Tim Cook said the word “double down” like 1,000x at the D10 conference

  • http://www.GoldenGateDomains.com/ Golden Gate Domains

    I don’t see why Apple is “crying” about Rumors – I’m sure every other manufacturer out there would love this kind of FREE publicity and attention!!!

    The gossip and rumor mill BOOSTS there sales more than anything, simply because of the immense levels of brand awareness!

    Another consideration is that with rumors of some really “cool” and “exciting” features coming soon, Android users that are frustrated with their current phone will think, “rather than renew my contract for another 2 years with another Android – I’ll wait a month or two and trade-up to the “new” iPhone!!!”

    Don’t let Tim Cook or any Apple exec “BS” you – they LOVE IT – AND THEY KNOW IT – THEY JUST DON’T ADMIT IT!!!

    Am I right – or – Am I RIGHT!!!

  • d5th

    apple = fail cuz google doesnt need sercecy to make good shit bros

  • http://twitter.com/RoyboyTheCat Royboy

    What I do is go to categories and go to jailbreak stuff and tweaks on this blog so I don’t see rumors. I love IOS 6 and the cool maps and cool phone dial pad. It’s the small things that make the difference with a larger impact.