The 2 big firms locking horns in the smartphone market these days are Apple and Samsung, and scarcely a week goes by without some new rumour about new devices one or both of them has in the pipeline.

This week, speculation has been running riot about the Samsung Galaxy SIV with its imminent launch next week in New York's Time Square. In fact, there's been so much speculation about the Samsung Galaxy SIV, we've covered it all in a separate post. So this week, we're going to focus (but not exclusively) on the rumour mill regarding Apple's new raft of devices.

apple-ipad-mini-2 (1)OK, so let's go chronologically.  New iPads (both full size and Mini) are expected next month, with improvements to their specs.  It's believed unlikely that the iPad Mini will be upgraded to a retina display in a release this soon, but it is expected when it is updated again in October (yes, it looks like Apple is going to be refreshing its iPads every 6 months).

In the Summer, July or August, we're expecting to see the new iPhone 5S handset. This may or may not be released alongside a new, more budget-orientated handset from Apple, available in a variety of colours.  As for the 5S, the latest rumours are that it will look exactly the same as the iPhone 5, but feature a faster processor, an improved camera and possibly a fingerprint chip under the Home button to improve security.

Those of you who's interest has been piqued by the possibility of an Apple iWatch will be interested to learn that those rumours are firming up and we may even be seeing this new product as early as this year. Apparently, the project is being led by Jony Ive, Apple's design chief, and involves over 100 Apple engineers.  There's not much more on the functionality issues since we last reported on the iWatch - current rumours are consistent with the idea that its primary USP will be to communicate notifications from the user's phone, as well as possibility featuring a pedometer and even monitoring the user's vital signs.  The design remains a mystery with no leaks, although apparently the sticking points are the battery life and adapting the iOS operating system to a smaller device. More as soon as we hear it.

Moving from Apple devices to Windows devices, those of you who own a smart new Nokia Lumia and of HTC running the Windows 8 operating system may have been disappointed by the lack of an BBC iPlayer app for catching up on your favourite TV when you're out and about.  Well, you don't have to wait much longer as the BBC will apparently be releasing one in the next few months - although it won't be a full native app but a shortcut to the iPlayer mobile website via a 'live tile'.

facebook-new-news-feedFinally, Facebookers will be interested to learn that the Newsfeed - which updates you on everything your friends and the companies you follow are up to - is getting a facelift, it's first major one since 2006. The main change is that you won't have one newsfeed any more, but many, so you'll be able to switch between feeds for music, video, music, games, following (for pages that you've liked) and 'all friends'.  The feed will be more visual too - with bigger photos, videos and maps, and more 'white space'.  On the one hand, you'll feel more relaxed looking at a cleaner, more visual newsfeed and on the other, you'll feel more stressed that you've got about half a dozen new feeds to look at to keep fully updated on what your friends are up to!