How a Fake iOS 10 HomeKit Rumor Spread Around the Web 

In the space of four days, an Apple rumor comes to its end.

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The Apple news sphere was set ablaze this weekend over reports that iOS 10, the next version of the iPhone’s operating system, would include a special HomeKit app. The rumor, first posted Friday on MacRumors, promised users that they would be able to control their smart homes from a built-in app, two years after the HomeKit platform became available for developers. Futuristic!

Unfortunately, it wasn’t true.

In journalism, people make mistakes sometimes. MacRumors absolutely acted in the right way, posting a correction on Tuesday as soon as it found out. But it was too late. The content farm had churned out its hits, regurgitated its hot takes, and posted its think-pieces. It’s a process in which many in tech journalism take part, and Inverse includes itself as part of that process of conversing around a particularly interesting news event or concept.

Nonetheless, it’s a fascinating snapshot of how Apple blogs produce content about one of the world’s most secretive company.

On May 6, at 9:02 p.m. Eastern, MacRumors published the story. An Amazon reviewer, who had the same name as an Apple marketing employee that MacRumors had found on LinkedIn, had revealed a juicy nugget of information. “The next version of iOS due this fall will have a standalone “HomeKit” app,” it read. MacRumors said it was able to confirm the Amazon reviewer and the Apple employee were the same person.

The community wasted no time responding. “JUST PLEASE LET US DELETE OR HIDE APPS WE DON’T NEED, APPLE,” said MacRumors user garirry at 9:04 p.m. “Someone’s getting fired,” said MacRumors user ButteryScrollin at 9:07 p.m. At that same moment, Reddit user David_Harrison posted the MacRumors story to the Apple subreddit.

May 7. Engadget posted its own take, linking the rumor to a trademark filing that Apple made late last year. The story notes that, as it stands, HomeKit depends on people visiting different apps to control various appliances.

Google searches for the term "homekit" start to spike on May 7.

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May 8. TechnoBuffalo, in its report on the rumor, mentions the caveat that Apple’s plans may change between now and September, when iOS 10 is expected to launch.

May 9. At this point, the blogosphere has mulled it over and yes, this fabled HomeKit app is a very good thing. Mashable explains why a HomeKit app is exactly what Apple needs. DigitalTrends, BGR, and MacObserver say the app is “finally” coming, implying it’s long overdue.

Then, just after the tech world had decided a HomeKit app is a cool idea, a new round of writers decide it’s actually not a cool idea after all. On the afternoon of May 9, 9to5Mac reports that a HomeKit app may be a good idea, but competitors have their feet in the door and it’ll be hard to compete. Forbes then goes in for the kill, asking whether this app will really be enough to save HomeKit.

Will Apple ever satisfy the 3 percent?

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Four days after the first post went live, at around 2 p.m. Eastern, new information came to light. It was all a trick! There is no HomeKit app. Or rather, if there is, this elusive Amazon reviewer was not the proof of its existence. The writer of the original story tells Inverse that the team amended the story shortly after it found out it was untrue. The update is bold, listed in the headline in big letters, and sits at the bottom of the article.

It’s almost poetic, in a way. The story was refuted just as its cycle was coming to a natural end. Having been repeated, praised, denounced, and finally refuted, the HomeKit rumor has concluded. Tomorrow, who knows what story will rear its head. Whatever it is, the media will be ready, waiting to scoop it up and generate those lucrative hot takes.

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