While you’ve been investigating just how feasible it is to sell a kidney on the dark web to raise enough cash for the new iPhone Xs, we’ve been listening out to the whispers and mutterings to find out what Apple has in store for us next.
From updated MacBooks to a TV streaming, here’s everything Apple is hard at work on.
The October Event
Apple has spent the last decade finely tuning its iPhone launch events – a September night (it’s always been in September) of fancy slides and slick demos that translates to mainstream news coverage, huge hype and a healthy pre-order of new handsets.
In order not to overcrowd its ‘iPhone Moment’, the lesser products of the California tech group have typically had to wait until the dust has settled before being announced at a low key October event – usually in its third week.
An October event has now been confirmed - specifically Tuesday 30 October - and it’s the place where Apple will reveal what they didn’t show off alongside its new iPhones and Watch on 12 September.
Here’s what we could expect.
An ‘Affordable’ MacBook
Earlier this year, many all-knowing analysts – busy reviewing the profits and movements of the companies that make the components that Apple employs to fill its devices – pointed toward Apple releasing three new smartphones in 2018, alongside an affordable 13-inch MacBook Air.
While the iPhones emerged, an apparent issue with sourcing the right processors for the Air pushed its release back to October.
The new Air isn’t expected to have any significant new bells or whistles but a thorough upgrade on all that’s gone before: a 13-inch Retina high-resolution display, Touch ID, a new Intel chip and USB-C ports.
The main selling point of this MacBook Air won’t be a new tech gimmick, but will rather be its price point – way down at the bottom of Apple’s current pricing, sneaking in at under £1,000.
That would make it cheaper than all other MacBooks – and less than an iPhone XS. Madness. But good madness.
A new iPad Pro
Been eyeing up a new iPad? You may want to wait for the latest Pro model to emerge, with significant speculation that Apple is marrying several useful pieces of tech from its iPhone range with its next tablet.
Rumours point to a new iPad Pro emerging before the close of 2018 with the same TrueDepth front-facing camera system as the latest iPhones. This would solve a minor headache for developers keen to build apps that make use of the camera’s function across both the latest iPhones and iPads, rather than having to build drastically different versions for each device. As with the iPhone, it could also see the iPad Pro lose its home button in favour of reading its owner’s face to open, in turn making its achingly-beautiful screen even bigger – up to 11-inches.
The other significant shift set for the new Pro is a switch from Apple’s Lightning connector to USB-C. That means faster charging, faster uploads and a whole stack of new accessories to clutter your desk draws with.
Swapping to a USB-C connection could also allow the iPad Pro power a 4K external screen via a single cable, turning the touchscreen into a vast control pad for design work and presentations. Yes please.
An updated Mac Mini?
Alongside a new MacBook Air and iPad Pro, there’s one other small-yet-still-significant computing device that could receive a much-needed update later this month.
In 2017, an eager fan emailed Apple President Tim Cook asking if the beloved Mac Mini would ever gain a new set of features. Surprisingly, Tim Cook actually responded, assuring the customer that the micro powerhouse would “be an important part of our product line going forward.”
There’s a chance the Mini, launched back in 2014, could be modernised with multiple processors, improved graphics support, SSD storage and 4K video output as Apple looks to increase its computing sales with a more affordable offering.
2019 line up
Looking a little further afield, there’s an exciting array of products that Apple is set to polish off for launches throughout 2019.
The company is said to be hard at work prepping the successor to the impressive AirPods.
Possibly ready for a reveal at the October event before going on sale next spring, Apple is adding a significant set of features to compete in an increasingly crowded wireless earbud market:
• Noise-cancelling is set to be squeezed into the ‘Pods, letting you cut out the chatter and buzz of the commute
• The new AirPods 2 will be water resistant – though not fully waterproof. A stroll in the rain will be fine, but don’t go for a dip
• You’ll be able to activate Siri without using your hands to tap the new model, but rather uttering “Hey Siri” – great while you’re on the go, terrifying for the person sitting next to you on the bus
• Bluetooth range will be extended, meaning you can move further away from your device when listening or taking a call
Alongside new AirPods, Apple is also said to be working on over-ear headphones. Set to be released under the ‘Apple’ name, the over-ear ‘phones (AirPod Plus? EarPods?) will offer high-end wireless performance, taking on other noise-cancelling offerings from the likes of Bose, Sony and its own Beats label.
Another announcement set for next year is an updated, smaller HomePod. Apple’s home speaker hasn’t performed as well as hoped, largely down to its high price point (£319) compared to the likes of the Google Home (£129) and Amazon’s Alexa (£89.99).
A HomePod Mini and Hompod 2 will take on the likes of Google and Amazon, with a shift away from being a luxury wireless speaker to a more affordable connected speaker with features that revolve around an improved integration with Siri.
Apple to take on Netflix
The other major launch expected from Apple in 2019 isn’t a gadget, but a new TV streaming package.
In June 2017, Apple hired Jamie Erlicht and Zack Van Amburg ¬– executives from Sony Picture Television behind the likes of Breaking Bad, Better Call Saul and The Crown.
At the time, Eddy Cue - Apple’s senior vice president of Internet Software and Services – stated that the company had “exciting plans in store for customers”, pointing towards Apple expanding its range of content offerings (think Carpool Karaoke and Planet of the Apps) to a service that could take on Netflix, Amazon and other streaming services.
Erlicht and Amburg have since been selecting a line-up of original content set to bring subscribers in in their hundreds of thousands – but the exact nature of that content has apparently been a point of contention within the company.
The Wall Street Journal gained insider knowledge that Vital Signs – an original semi-biographical drama about the life of Dr Dre – was deemed too violent to be associated with Apple. Upon viewing the series, Tim Cook was apparently troubled by scenes that “featured characters doing lines of cocaine, an extended orgy in a mansion and drawn guns.” He declare that the show couldn’t be backed by Apple.
This prompted Apple to identify exactly what it did want to feature, telling agents and producers it was looking for “high-quality shows with stars and broad appeal”. Think less Game of Thrones, more Big Bang Theory.
Apple has apparently already invested some $1 billion into buying and creating its first set of original shows, which will include:
• An adaptation of the rollicking novel Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts, about his escape from an Australian prison into the underbelly of Bombay, India
• A range of programmes developed by Oprah Winfrey, who signed a deal with Apple back in June
• A thriller series by M. Night Shyamalan
• An animated musical comedy titled Central Park, about a family of Central Park caretakers who have to save the world. It’s by Bob’s Burgers creator Loren Bouchard, so it could be great
• A sci-fi/horror/fantasy series based on the classic Steven Spielberg 1980s show Amazing Stories – with Spielberg serving as executive producer. Think of it as a Black Mirror-episodic offering with more aliens
• A show from La La Land director Damien Chazelle
The content package could roll out as soon as spring 2019 (probably March), but Apple is yet to decide exactly how it wants to structure its service.
Some believe that Apple could run an entirely new Apple TV subscription, accessed online or on apps on iPhones, iPads and Apple TVs (the box, not the subscription service), separate from Apple Music. Other options include creating a single Apple content bundle, including music, TV and magazines from its Texture acquisition back in March.
However Apple decides to slice up its pie, you can expect to hear a lot more about its original content early next year.
No more Apple Car?
There’s one long-rumoured gadget we’d all like to see: the Apple Car.
Back in 2017 Tim Cook looked to have parked the idea of Apple building its own car altogether, telling Bloomberg that the company was instead focusing on the far less sexy world of ‘autonomous systems’. Rather than building a curvy dream machine of white plastic and metal with touchscreen steering wheels, Cook suggested that the company was turning its attention to what he described as the “mother of all AI projects”, creating solutions that help other manufacturers’ cars become fully self-driving.
The company is clearly still hard at work on something, after reports emerged in August that one of their test vehicles, fitted with all manner of cameras and sensors, was driven into by a Nissan Leaf at 16mph.
We’ll bring you updates of any new rumours as soon as they surface. Until then, get yourselves ready for that 30 October show.
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