While I believe history will remember 2020 as a dreadful year overall, Apple remains focused on most of its original plan to make this a very big year. What’s still coming? A deluge of recent rumors and speculations gives us a sense of what to expect.
The iPhone 12 series
We’ve looked at this before, and it seems Apple remains on course to introduce four iPhone 12 models this year, including Pro models as well as devices with 5G capabilities. Leaker Jon Prosser recently claimed on Twitter these devices will be announced at an October iPhone event, though actual shipping dates could be staggered into November. This chimes neatly with existing speculation that product development and manufacturing has been affected by US/China trade tensions and the COVID-19 pandemic.
An all-new Apple Watch
The next Apple Watch is expected to include a larger battery, new sensors and the ability to measure blood oxygen and sleep tracking (thanks to Beddit); Prosser claims the Apple Watch Series 7 will be introduced this fall.
A new iPad
Apple updated the iPad Pro in March, so an upgrade to the high-end tablets seems unlikely. More likely is an update to the iPad Air or iPad mini, which both last saw upgrades in March 2019. One Digitimes report has claimed this release could include a lower-cost 10.8-in. model.
Expect these to all feature TrueTone capabilities.
‘Apple One’ services bundles
We’re also expecting new services, with recent speculation concerning imminent launch of new “Apple One” services bundles seemingly confirmed by a Bloomberg report. It claims these new bundles will launch in October and scale from an Apple Music/TV+ bundle to include a selection of different varieties, some including Arcade, News and high-capacity iCloud storage.
The company is apparently also discussing inclusion of a free year of Apple Arcade access with every new Apple TV. A new model Apple TV is also anticipated, equipped with a gaming friendly faster processor.
These new bundles are expected to make their debut along with iOS 14 when it ships in the fall. In recent weeks, we’ve also heard a great deal of market clamor that suggests the company has a big content push to help keep existing Apple TV+ subscribers attached as renewal season begins.
A brand-new Apple service?
The pandemic has driven huge demand for at-home fitness schemes.
Gyms have been shuttered worldwide, some have gone bust and one recent survey claimed 25% of existing gym club members will avoid going back due to concern about infection. Health- and fitness-based subscription services from Peloton and Lululemon have seen take-up climb fast, and home exercise equipment is in short supply. (Yelp revealed a 500% increase in interest in home exercise kit during the pandemic.)
Apple has been working pretty hard on activity-based health, developing relationships with gym exercise machine manufacturers and building an entire ecosystem (Activity) to help users develop better fitness habits – now Bloomberg tells us it intends to introduce its very own home workout service.
This will likely make use of many of the company’s recent inventions, including human pose detectors, the Activity app and will integrate across its platforms. This will, apparently, be made available as a high-end service.
New operating systems
Lockdown memory being what it is, WWDC in June feels like it only took place last week. But as we head inexorably into fall in the Northern Hemisphere, it’s important to note that the new operating systems for Apple’s iPhone, iPad, Mac, TV and Watch (and improvements across its wider accessory ecosystem) are now undergoing widespread public testing with multiple builds in use.
In other words, development is advancing on schedule, and while it seems likely the final release of the software may be delayed a little, pending launch of new iPhones, it means Apple users can look forward to a new product experience even on existing devices.
The first Apple Silicon Macs
Apple will also introduce the first Apple Silicon Macs. These have been promised for the end of the year, but it remains possible continued challenges around COVID-19 may delay introduction. Speculation varies, but the idea of a 13-in. MacBook as one of the first such Macs endures, with a MacBook Pro model also rumored.
Will the fact that Apple owns the A14XS chip inside these new Macs be reflected in the price? Some anticipate these machines could cost as little as $749, others predict new and sophisticated features around 5G and AI. We all anticipate screaming performance.
AirPods 3, over the ear AirPods (September?) and a new, smaller and slightly cheaper HomePod system have also been speculated about, but the whispers just don’t seem strong enough to be seen as certainties as yet. A recent Digitimes claim suggested AirPods Pro won’t see an upgrade until 2021. Outside chances include the much-speculated Air Tags system based on Find My and the occasionally speculated upon revised AirPower device.
Apple still seems on course for a pretty big year.
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