Apple does a lot of cool things with its technology but there are two elements we’ve been hoping and waiting for, which Apple has been painfully silent about—a potential Apple flip iPhone and an Apple AI. Fret not because rumors suggest that Apple knows just how impatient its customer base has been, and is working on an Apple foldable iPhone as we speak. Now the excitement should remain measured as the devices are still in their design phases and not likely to be released before 2025, however, it is promising to hear of a potential foldable iPhone release in the future. The company has often been accused of playing it too safe and sticking to a very basic but recognizable design style for their iPhones, but that detail is also what makes the iPhones so iconic and we can’t hold that against them either.
An Apple Flip iPhone? Why is That So Hard to Picture?
A recently released report by The Information suggested that Apple was developing “at least two” versions of a foldable iPhone. These devices are believed to fold horizontally, more akin to the Motorollas we grew up with rather than the new book-fold style of some smartphones. According to GSMArena, they wanted the device to be as thin as a regular iPhone and wanted the display on the outside when the phone was folded, like Huawei’s Mate X, rather than getting safely hidden on the inside with a mini screen on the front, like the Galaxy Z Fold. Incorporating all that technology into a phone turned out to be quite difficult—understandably so.
Engineers have reportedly been “struggling” to work around the easily breakable design. Putting the screen on the outside makes it harder to achieve the “seamless” look, especially when it has to wrap around the bulk of the entire phone. It becomes difficult to protect the deceived with a case or screen guard of any kind, increasing the fragility of the device. We will admit an external screen would look rather badass though. The company has been in talks with “at least one” manufacturer in Asia with regard to parts for the Apple flip iPhone.
The foldable iPhone prototypes are only in their design phase and the company seems to be playing around with its option to see what it can do to set itself apart considering its late entry into the flip phone market. The unhurried pace makes it clear that it isn’t a top priority and that the company will keep its focus on the iPhone 16 or further iterations of the Apple Vision Pro until it finds something it can sell. There is also a foldable iPad in the works along with the two Apple flip iPhones, but we know just as little about that. The foldable iPad mini currently in the works seems to feature an 8-inch display and the engineers there are said to be doing what they can to make the crease on the screen more invisible and the hinge more capable of allowing the device to lay completely flat. Whether they will succeed or not remains to be seen.
Apple AI? Will We See the Company Join The Smartphone Race?
Will we see Apple join the ranks of companies chasing the “AI smartphone” trend this year? We still don’t know and, again, we probably won’t until we hear more about the iPhone 16 that should drop towards the end of the year. Apple has been rather relaxed in their attitude toward artificial intelligence as well and while that makes us question the rest of the industry’s overuse of the buzzword, we have to state that “smart” technology has always been a part of its priorities without explicitly calling it AI. Now we hear that researchers at the Cupertino company released a paper on their own AI investigations. Announcing their Multimodal Large Language Models for Guided Instruction-Based Image Edits, or MGIE for short, the tool refines the process of photo editing to a much finer degree by interpreting text-based instruction.
The AI allows specific elements of a photo to be edited according to instructions, and the intuitive way it works seems to be much more refined than what we see from other image editing tools. In an example in the paper, a picture of a pepperoni pizza was added with the prompt to make it more healthy. For an AI tool, there are many ways to mess up what exactly you might mean by a “healthy” looking pizza but the tool was able to correctly add some vegetable toppings to the pizza. A responsive and smart AI is the goal (for those unafraid of AI) but it is also a difficult target to reach. When asked to “lighten the yellow tone,” “reduce the brightness of the image,” or “give her a hat” the tool is capable of understanding the editing instructions quite effectively.
MGIE is available for download over at GitHub as well as through a web demo on Hugging Face Spaces, which should give people a good opportunity to test out the tool. Advanced image editing would be a great addition to the company’s lineup of devices this year but we might be getting ahead of ourselves too soon. Overall, it’s interesting to see this initiative being among Apple’s first public ventures into AI.
When it comes down to it, the company will undoubtedly make its own versions of AI tools as technology continues to evolve quickly towards something much bigger than the services we have today. When it comes to the Apple flip iPhone though, this might be a false alarm and we may not hear anything about the Apple flip phones again after these initial rumors die down. Apple was first said to be working on a foldable phone back in 2018 but the tech available then was not able to support the image and design they had in mind for the foldable iPhone releases. We have a long wait ahead of us to even see the foldable iPhone prototypes.