For all of Apple’s famed innovation and market disruption, the company has more than a few distinct patterns in how it operates. You don’t have to be a crystal ball-toting palm reader to figure out what’s in Apple’s pipeline for 2016 and beyond.
Sure, we might get a surprise here and there, but they’re not major products. The new Smart Battery case was a surprise, yes, both because it is ugly as sin and because iPhone users love it because that ugly design makes the antenna better. Who could have predicted that Apple would design something ugly.
I’ve been using Apple products for more decades than the public internet has been public so I’m as qualified as any member of the technorati elite politburo to make an educated guess what Apple will do in 2016.
Mac – While I don’t expect any kind of a new Mac line, I do expect Apple to upgrade almost everything to Intel’s newer, faster, power sipping CPUs sooner, rather than later. That means MacBook, MacBook Air (which I suspect is on the way out as Retina takes over everything), iMac, and Mac mini. What’s missing? The Mac Pro. This expensive little aluminum can has not been upgraded in what seems like a decade so it’s time for Apple to show it some love.
iPad Air 3 – This is a no brainer prediction because the predecessor, iPad Air 2, was last updated in the early fall of 2014. That’s ancient by today’s upgrade standards. What will make iPad Air 3 better than iPA2? Think mini iPad Pro with full support for Pencil, a new Smart Keyboard, faster CPU, and all the goodies showing up recently in iOS 9.3, still in beta.
Apple Watch – Another no brainer. The one year anniversary is coming up but don’t expect an upgraded Watch to show up until late summer or early fall, although we will hear about new capabilities with watch OS 3 at Apple’s spring WWDC event. What Watch needs is standalone Wi-Fi, standalone GPS, and less of a tether to the iPhone, but I expect to see Watch a fully standalone product in 2017’s version, not this year.
OS X 10.12 – We can argue over the name– Bakersfield to L.A. to Death Valley (no)– but a new version of OS X will be announced at WWDC and it will continue the trend of incremental improvements vs. wholesale and disruptive changes. And it will run on even older Macs.
iOS 10 – Or, maybe, iOS X? Nah. Just kidding. iOS 10 will close the gap between the iPhone’s OS and the Mac’s OS with ever more features and capabilities that further distinguish and differentiate Apple’s mobile OS vs. Android.
4-inch iPhone – There’s some discussion on the name, but I’m convinced there’s a market for a smaller, less expensive iPhone, similar in size to the currently available iPhone 5s but with upgraded internals and options; faster CPU, always on Hey Siri, Apple Pay support, improved camera, lower price. Why? Many people still want a smartphone that fits in the pocket. Many people want a lower priced iPhone that isn’t three years old. And Apple needs an entry level device to help shore up the margins of iPhone 7.
iPhone 7 – Duh. Faster, better battery life, improved camera; likely with dual camera support; one for telephoto, and one for regular. The dual camera support might be an iPhone 7 Plus only option to further differentiate the line. Oh, and say hello to the 256GB storage option, and goodbye to 16GB.
Apple Television – This is possible if Apple becomes aggressive and serious about TV. All it needs to do is declare itself an internet-based cable TV company, cut the deals, stream the shows.
I’m not holding my breath. Steve Jobs lied when he said he’d finally cracked it.
Apple Car – Won’t happen. 2017, maybe.
Despite the long list of industry disruptive products– Apple II, Mac, iPod, Apple Stores, iTunes, iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, Watch– Apple is the ultimate incremental innovator and 2016 is destined to be incremental, not revolutionary disruption.