Apple's products are small enough fit in a pocket, on your wrist, in a bag, or at worst atop a desk. But the company's next big thing may be truly massive indeed: it's a car.
Well, reportedly. Apple car rumours have popped up here and there for years, and Steve Jobs even considered building one back when – but in early 2015, the rumours picked up incredible steam, with major publications reporting details on Apple's supposed plans to create electric, and maybe eventually self-driving cars.
And the reports haven't stopped coming, either, as we've written at least a dozen stories in the year or so since. Can Apple really be the next Tesla? They certainly have the ambition for it, not to mention the money to funnel into the extravagantly expensive development process.
If the idea of an iCar sounds downright magical, read on: this is everything we've heard so far, and we'll be updating it regularly until Apple finally sees fit to show the thing.
The first big report on the matter came back in February 2015, when Business Insider claimed that Apple had a project in "vehicle development" that would give Tesla "a run for its money." Apple already has its CarPlay connected car system available (shown), but that's hardly anything Tesla would bat an eye at. This is something bigger.
Later that week, the Wall Street Journal dropped a megaton report, claiming that Apple was indeed well into the project, called "Titan." It was claimed to be a minivan-like vehicle that would definitely be an electric car, but probably not a self-driving one as well.
According to the Journal, several hundred employees were already working on the project at that time, with plenty of people hired away from traditional car companies. Steve Zadesky, who had worked at Ford, was leading the project, while former Tesla and Mercedes-Benz staffers were said to be knee-deep in development.
The rumour mill quieted down for a while, although in July 2015, Apple reportedly hired away Doug Betts, former global quality control head for Fiat Chrysler, as well as a leading European researcher on self-driving cars.
An i3 iCar?
Later in July, we heard that Apple was in negotiations to base its electric car on the design of the BMW i3 – a move not entirely different from how Tesla based its first Roadster on the Lotus Elise before moving on to bespoke designs. According to the report, Apple CEO Tim Cook and other executives visited BMW's production facility in Leipzig, Germany.
However, in April 2016, German business magazine Handelsblatt reported that the companies were done negotiating and couldn't reach a deal. Why? Control, of course: Apple wanted the car's software to be built into its own iCloud systems, while BMW and Daimler weren't quite ready to give up the keys, and there was some disagreement over who would take lead on the project.
According to that report, contract car manufacturer Magna may instead fill the role of producing the car for Apple, although that's the last we've heard of it for now.
And in August, another big bit of info hit: The Guardian was able to uncover public records that showed that Apple was trying to book a self-driving car testing facility.
Apple employees communicated with representatives of the GoMentum Station in Concord, California, a former U.S. Navy weapons station, about using its 20 miles of closed-off roadway for testing. Understandably, Apple was trying to book testing time that wouldn't conflict with other carmakers' use of the facility, seemingly to keep its own project under wraps.
Perhaps the biggest info dump came in September 2015, when the Wall Street Journal reported that Apple had deemed Titan a "committed project," and told leaders to triple the head count of employees from its then-current total of about 600 people. That's huge.
According to the report, Apple wanted the car ready to ship in 2019, although there was some conflict over exactly what "shipping" entailed. Supposedly, Apple deems a project ready to ship internally once its core components are finalized, rather than when it's quite literally out the door and headed to consumers. So it could be another year or two beyond 2019 'til we would actually see the cars on the road.
Also, the report clarified that Apple's first car will be only of the electric sort, not self-driving. Despite that testing attempt, Apple's autonomous automobile ambitions stretch further into the future, and the company only wants a proper electric car ready out of the gate.