Apple and the mystery of the big white box

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In about a week's time, Apple will announce its new iPhone or iPhones. It might even tease, or release, its speculated wearable. Rumours about all of these theoretical devices have been swirling for months. And, as usual, Apple has had nothing to say. But, they have been building something.

Last week photos appeared of a three-storey, white edifice. The company is erecting the mystery cube near the Flint Center for Performing Arts in Cupertino, California. It's just south of same building in which Steve Jobs first unpacked the Macintosh for the public in back in 1984.

Apple already has its own small event hall. And its executives have made frequent use of two spaces in downtown San Francisco: the Yerba Buena Center (750 seats) and Moscone West (1,500) seats. The Flint Center itself has over 2,000 seats. So, it's unlikely the mystery building is an auditorium. I mean, it's as big as a house. Which is, I'm betting, exactly what it is.

Back in 2006 Apple built a multi-roomed demo space to show off its underwhelming iPod Hi-Fi. It also modelled full-sized Apple stores months prior to their installation around the world.

And we also know that iOS 8 will feature both HomeKit and HealthKit apps. The former will serve as a hub for health and fitness data. The latter will be the lingua franca for a host of home automation devices and appliances. Not coincidentally, on Tuesday, Elgato announced the Eve home sensor kit that works with Homekit.

And, there is now a strong rumour that after a long delay, the iPhone 6 will have a Near Field Communication (NFC) chip. That means that combined with the underused Passbook, the fingerprint scanner and the millions of credit cards the Apple Store already has on file, NFC could turn the iPhone 6 into a secure electronic wallet. All the pieces just have to snap together.

Now imagine a wearable with health sensors, NFC and access to iOS 8's improved notifications.

In 2001 Apple introduced the idea that the iMac could be the hub of your digital life. I think, 30 years and in the same place the Macintosh was introduced, and 13 years after the "digital hub" was launched, Apple will announce two new products that will make the "digital hub" look quaint. Apple is now aiming to be at the centre of our lives, and it's going to invite us into their idea of our home to show us how it's going to work.

Either that or reporters will be led into a big white room and finally discover where all the Jony Ive videos have been made.

Wayne MacPhail has been a print and online journalist for 25 years, and is a long-time writer for on technology and the Internet.

Photo: Fatima/flickr

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