The rumor that Apple is developing biometric EarPods — born from a post on the anonymous sharing app Secret — was a hoax.
The rumor — which Mashable and many other news outlets covered — was something the poster now says was made up "while I was using the toilet and worrying about my blood pressure."
The admission came via a Tumblr post that the author linked/verified in the original Secret posting.
The poster claims the intent wasn't to be malicious — or to mislead people — but to use Secret as "an outlet for comedy" and to "give my friends a laugh". Having had his or her own experiences with blood pressure medication, the anonymous author thought it would be amusing to create a fake iPhone rumor about a health sensor:
The idea of Apple including a free heart pressure monitor, something that would cost >$100-$200, seemed ridiculous to me. I added the iBeacon thing to stretch it further and the audio jack port moving idea as some contrived logic to make it sound believable.
The vagueness of the description led to many Secret commenters asking questions about the post — to which the original poster responded with more made-up details. That, they said, is what gave this story legs:
"Without releasing it, I had begun not just joking with a few friends, but accidentally trolling a far larger audience."
Of course, a big part of what made the rumor believable was that Apple really does have a bunch of patents for earphones with health-sensors built-in. In fact, a slew of sensor-related headphone patents have been filed by Apple since 2006.
It was the subsequent news coverage — including reports that Apple is continuing to hire experts in the wearable health space — that made the author come clean:
"But one thing that worries me is with this timing, if I'm close enough to the mark with my guess, is that Apple might think someone they trust is leaking stuff, and someone might get in trouble for it. I made it all up. If I'm close, it's a lucky guess."
This is the silly season
With a month to go before WWDC, and roughly four months until Apple's traditional fall product launch, we're smack in the middle of the silly season for Apple rumors. It doesseem likely that Apple will enter the wearable technology space in some form this year — and the arrival of a whole new product category means that the Apple rumor mill is busier than ever.
As much as Secret makes it easy to spread such rumors — if you see a post that comes from a friend of a friend, it has a whiff of credibility that you wouldn't find in, say, a random Reddit post — most news outlets likely wouldn't have bothered with this one if it hadn't matched up to pre-existing Apple patents.
Still, it's a timely reminder that nearly all Apple rumors turn out to be false — and that the only real way we know of to be sure you're seeing a prototype from the company is to find one in a bar.