Last year was an interesting, but ever-so-slightly dull year for most Apple fans. In 2011 we got the new iPad which sold in record numbers, Cupertino finally launched the Verizon iPhone (January), the elusive white iPhone 4 (April) and the iPhone 4S (October). Sprint customers cheered at receiving the iPhone for the first time too – sadly, Tmo users were left abandoned. We also saw the launch of some new operating systems and services for our iDevices and Macs. Mac OS X Lion and iOS 5 both launched alongside iCloud. Since the new hardware was barely any different to the previous year’s, it’s fair to say that 2011 was the year of software, and not hardware. Both Mac OS and iOS took huge, positive strides last year. But, if Apple wants to keep us excited, this year’s hardware and products need to be king.
1. iPad 3
Undoubtedly, the third-gen iPad will be released at some point in the next few months. Although a total redesign is unlikely (a tablet is a rectangle) we need to see some big leaps on the hardware front. Higher resolution display and more powerful processor are the two biggest requirements for the next Apple slate. Will we see Siri, and a redesigned home key? Who knows? Both would be nice, but I would personally prefer a higher resolution display to give it more credibility in the gaming market, and finally give some console loyalists something to think about. Better cameras would be great too.
2. iPhone 6
Release date predictions for the next generation Apple smartphone are hard to make these days. The company was once incredibly predictable. We’d always expect a new iPhone in June/July. 2011 threw that out the window. We could either expect it to revert back to the old release cycle, and once again become the star of WWDC. Or, Apple could continue with the Fall release. (6th generation iPhone means it won’t be an iPhone 5.)
Hardware wise, the iPhone 4S is awesome. It just needs a makeover. If the next iPhone had a different form factor and a larger display, I’d be pleased. If it doesn’t, Apple has surely missed a trick.
There were no new iPods in 2011 (except the slightly modified Nano and white iPod touch). The market is so saturated with Apple branded media players that improvements aren’t necessary. There’s no competition. But Cupertino can’t go two years without any new music players. I hope we see a new iPod touch, Nano and maybe a redesign of the Classic. The latter may be unlikely, the former two are a must.
The tech journalism world would be rocked if Apple didn’t announce a revolutionary HDTV this year (or next). Sir Jony Ive allegedly has a 50″ set in his design bunker at Infinite Loop. Make no mistake – Apple is working on it. It will undoubtedly be closely compatible and plugged in to the iEcosystem. iCloud, iTunes and Airplay will turn it from being just a TV set to being your computer, console, and media hub all-in-one. It could quite possibly be the smart TV to end all smart TVs. Since Jobs famous “I cracked it” quote, it’s almost guaranteed that we will see one soon.
Performance parts are regularly upgraded, but looks aren’t. Most of the Mac range haven’t had a facelift in some time. MacBook Pro for instance needs a new design. We can expect the computers to keep steadily improving. As ultra books become more mainstream, expect the Air to become Apple’s big cash cow in the computer market.
What do you think Apple will release this year? Is there something up its sleeve or is this it? Comment below or tweet me: @TiP_Cam.