2015 is nearing its end, and it has been a buzzing year for Apple Inc. This was a ‘tock’ year (following the tick-tock development cycle that Apple follows for iPhone) – and in addition to iPhone 6S/6S Plus, the tech giant released a slew of other gadgets and software which have already become fairly popular. A new iPad (iPad Mini 4), a new Macbook (the much-hyped 12” Retina Macbook), a new stylus (Apple Pencil) would all feature among the highlights from Apple Inc. in 2015 – but the one that easily takes the cake is Apple Watch, which debuted in the markets in late-April. There’s a lot to look forward to from Tim Cook and his team in 2016, and here’s a roundup of what to expect from Apple next year:
- iPhone 7 – Things will be ‘ticking’ over in 2016, and after the successful iPhone 6S upgrade – a significantly revamped flagship model of iPhone will arrive. According to leading smart device analysts and Apple app developers, the iPhone 7 will have several new features – right from the removal of the ‘Home’ button to the side, to the (probable) replacement of the power-draining LCD screen with a full AMOLED display (like Apple Watch). There will be other subtle changes, like the addition of a few ‘soft keys’, to increase the overall screen real estate of the device. Hopefully, iPhone 7 will have a reliable fingerprint reader too – that one would be crucial for the use of Apple Pay. Oh, and it will also be the slimmest iPhone to date!
- iOS 10 – An extension of the first point. Every year, Apple brings out an iteration of its mobile platform – and in 2016, it will be the turn of iOS 10. Reports from iOS app development forums and groups suggest that the iOS 9 update (focusing on enhanced stability and reliability) has done a good job (the new iOS 9.2 update fixes most of the initial bugs). With iOS 10, which will debut on the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus phablet (will there be one?), Apple can once again turn its attention to including new features and tweaks. For instance, there have already been telltale hints that users will get the option to hide the pre-installed applications that they don’t need. Another step towards greater customization, that.
- A new, smaller-screen iPhone – Rumours suggest that Apple has plans to revive its ‘budget smartphone’ iPhone xC line with iPhone 7 (iPhone 7C should release in 2017). However, the company can very well spring a surprise and launch an iPhone 6C handset early next year. The device will have a 4” screen, and should do better in terms of sales than what Apple achieved with its ill-advised and ill-conceived iPhone 5C. In fact, many mobile software and iOS app developers had expected iPhone 6C to make an appearance this year itself. Maybe, Apple has just postponed it to 2016.
- MacBook Air – The next World Wide Developers Conference (WWDC) is slated for June 2016, and Apple would, in all likelihood, announce its long-overdue MacBook Air updates during the event. It is expected that the Cupertino company will pull the plug on the 11” MacBook Air, with a 13” model and a 15” inch model taking its place. The new MacBook Air-s will boast of several new, performance-enhancing features as well – like redesigned cooling modules, Type-C USB, and a fresh set of batteries. The all-new Skylake processors from Intel might also be present in the new MacBook Air models. Will they have Retina display too?
- iPad Air might receive an update – 2014’s iPad Air 2 did not receive any update this year, but things might change next year. For starters, the iPad Pro has arrested the dwindling interest of users about tablets. Also, Apple Pencil has been appreciated for its efficiency and functionality (something Steve Jobs probably had not foreseen) – and Apple would certainly want to make it more than an iPad Pro-only stylus. All of these point towards the likely launch of an iPad Air 3 model – with iPhone 6-esque 3D Touch. There is not much chance of an upgrade to the iPad Pro being announced though.
- OS X 10.12 Fuji – Oh well, we do not know whether the new Mac OS version will retain the name ‘Fuji’ – but OS X 10.12 will be out in 2016, that’s for certain. The update has already started showing up in server logs of systems, and early reports indicate that the new OS X version is in the final rounds of testing, on the in-house systems at the Apple campus. The adoption rate of this year’s OS X 10.11 El Capitan has been well and truly impressive, and ‘Fuji’, with better specs and greater stability, should be even more successful.
- Live streaming on Apple TV – The fourth-generation Apple TV finally arrived in 2015 along with the first-ever tvOS. Following its favourable reports, software and app developers fully expect live streaming features to be become available on TV (as an update, in all likelihood). BBC iPlayer has already landed on Apple TV, and by next year, the differences with Fox and CBS should get sorted out, and users will get the option to stream live content on Apple TV. Jobs had once referred to TV as a ‘hobby’, but Tim Cook considers it as a ‘game-changing opportunity’ to increase sales figures. Given the license agreements, the announcement should come within the second quarter of next year.
- News on Project Titan – No one expects the much-talked about Apple Car to be unveiled before 2019. but there should be some official news and announcements in 2016 regarding how the ambitious ‘Project Titan’ is shaping up. The self-driving Google Car is also eyeing a 2018-19 release, and Apple should have that extra bit of motivation to beat its arch-rival in the smart vehicle market. It would be interesting to note whether, and how, third-party apps could be integrated in the Apple Car.
- Apple Watch 2 – According to a recent Canalys report, well over 7.5 million units of Apple Watch has already been sold since its launch – and the upcoming holidays should bring in another spurt in the sales of the smartwatch. The arrival of watchOS 2 (v2.1 also released a few days back) has also made it possible for WatchKit app developers to create native applications directly for the smartwatch. In 2016, the gadget will complete a year of existence, and an upgrade is expected. Apple will probably make Watch 2 less reliant on paired iPhones (maybe, just maybe, it might be a fully standalone smartwatch) – something that both general users as well as app developers would like. The battery performance would be bolstered too, and the new model of Apple Watch is also likely to have several new sensors and built-in GPS features. The S1 processor (which is similar to the chip in iPhone 5S) will make way for the faster and more robust S2 processor. Do not expect Apple Watch 2 to be a slimmer smartwatch though.
- A new member in the MacBook line – Just like the early MacBook Air models, the MacBook laptops have also faced quite a bit of flak for not quite justifying their price tags. Now, no one (except for Apple insiders, of course) know how Apple plans to roll out the MacBook line of devices – but there is a slim chance of a new model arriving in 2016 (along with the new MacBook Air). Given that this is one of the less likely Apple announcements in 2016, not much is known about the specs that the new MacBook might have (except that it will probably be thinner). Let’s just wait and see how Apple brings forward its laptops.
- A10 processor – Reports of a rift between Samsung and TSMC – the manufacturing partners of Apple – over the A9 chip contract have started leaking in. Many iPhone app development experts feel that Intel might step in with its technology, in the A10 processor chip – which will also debut in next year’s iPhone 7. The new processor would have higher memory bandwidth support capacity, and will be based on the 10nm technology. Superior multi-threading is yet another thing that the A10 processor would focus on. There will be a rise in the core count too, compared to the A9 chip.
- Force Touch Keypad for MacBook Air – The recent patent filing by Apple is a fair indication that the company is working on a Force Touch KeyBoard, which will be usable in collaboration with the innovative Magic Trackpad 2. In addition to being able to discern the differences in force with which tabs are pressed (a helpful feature for music-creators), there is a buzz about the Force Touch Keypad also having strong haptic feedback support. Using the keypad will be a breeze even for visually challenged users.
- Exponential growth in China – In the fourth quarter of 2015, the revenue of Apple Inc. from the China market zoomed to $12.6 billion – a rise of nearly 100%. This trend is expected to gain further momentum next year, and by 2017, China will emerge as one of the biggest (if not the sole leader) revenue-generating markets for the Cupertino company. iPhones, in particular, will drive the growth of Apple in these regions.
- Apple Music on iPod – Those predicting the end of iPod Touch were proved wrong by the new update from Apple this year (incidentally, this was the first iPod update in more than three years). Mobile developers are confident that Apple will try to buoy the sales of iPod further, by bringing the Apple Music service on the device. The future, however, looks bleak for both iPod Shuffle and iPod Nano. In 2016 and beyond, iPod Touch seems to be the only music device from Apple that will have strong revenue-earning potential.
There has been hardly any news on the Mac Mini front, so the announcement of a new model in 2016 is extremely unlikely. Instead, Apple might very well go for a new Mac Pro update. iOS app and game developers are eagerly looking forward to Swift 3.0 – with the upcoming iteration of the programming language reported to have many new APIs and other generic features (the ‘NS’ prefixes will disappear too). 2016 promises to be an exciting year for Apple fans (much like the last couple of years) – and it remains to be seen how many of these announcements are actually made.
Which new Apple product are you looking forward to the most in 2016?
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