There is never a dull day in Silicon Valley and there is never an uninteresting year for Apple, at least ever since Jobs returned and scripted the tale of the world’s richest tech company. 2015 saw Apple rolling out its much anticipated Watch, iPhone 6s and 6s Plus. We got Apple TV and iPad Pro. We were introduced to 3D Touch and tvOS, the operating system powering Apple TV. There were some noteworthy upgrades in the form of iOS 9, OS X 10.11 El Capital and watchOS 2 along with a plethora of software updates.
2016 is perhaps going to be even bigger for Apple and by that extension more interesting for those eyeing for the finest grabs. Here is what to expect from Apple in 2016.
Apple Watch 2 (Early 2016)
Apple Watch has been appreciated and panned in unequal measures. There are many who absolutely love it and there are many who have lambasted the gadget. That doesn’t deter Apple’s plans. We are likely to witness the launch of Apple Watch 2 sometime in March and perhaps we would have it in stores by April. According to educated speculations, Apple Watch 2 will be loaded with more sensors, many of which did not find a place in the first watch. You are likely to get blood oxygen level sensors, skin conductivity and blood pressure sensors. One expects the watch to be slimmer and we could get FaceTime and better Wi-Fi. As far as hardware goes, Apple is perhaps going to make cosmetic upgrades. Substantial changes to design or the weight, the variants or the choice of bands and other aesthetic elements may not happen.
iPhone 7 and 7 Plus (Late 2016)
Keeping with tradition, Apple may roll out its iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus towards the end of the year, perhaps in September. The two phones are likely to feature 4.7 inch and 5.5 inch displays respectively. Every few years, the company makes some substantial changes to the design of their bestselling smart phone and 2016 is the year when you can expect them. The external chassis in particular is up for redesign and you may have a completely new look of the most popular smart phone on the planet. There are certain features and specs that can be gauged. The upcoming iPhones are likely to be thinner and lighter, the processor would be more powerful and one can expect a better camera. Since 3D Touch and Touch ID have already rolled out, we can expect them to feature prominently in the upcoming iPhones. One wouldn’t be wrong to expect a DSLR like camera lens system or the quality of photos to be just as good given the compact sizes of images captured by mobiles. Many analysts are predicting that iPhone 7 will come with the standard 2 GB RAM but the iPhone 7 Plus may have 3 GB RAM. The headphone jack may be shunned in favor of using the Lightning port. It would save some space and can make the phone slimmer by at least a millimeter. There are many other rumors doing the rounds and some are being consciously planted in the public domain. Rumors about Apple ditching the aluminum casing and coming up with an entirely new material are quite unfounded and one cannot really say with even remote certainty whether or not there are any intentions to that effect. Apple has never mentioned anything pertaining to such changes or even researches and development programs aiming for such changes.
iPhone 6c (Early 2016)
There was a time when Apple firmly believed that they would make what they wanted to make and the customers, not knowing what they want, will settle for the sheer best. The famous quote of Steve Jobs has been the mantra every executive in Apple has adhered to. But over the last few years, Apple has understood that people do have varied preferences and it is almost impossible to have everyone to marvel at the same thing. The larger iPhones, especially the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, had certainly alienated some people who love smaller phones. Larger screens are good and they have their pros but many people are keen to use smaller screens, thus lighter and smaller phones. Apple is attempting to correct this situation and thus we expect the iPhone 6c to roll out with a 4 inch screen sometime in the first quarter of 2016.
According to all official and reported accounts available, the iPhone 6c is going to be somewhere between an iPhone 6 and the iPhone 5s. It would still have the aluminum case, the curved cover glass, a couple of color choices and perhaps an A9 processor. In terms of performance, the iPhone 6c will match that of iPhone 6s. The iPhone 6c is expected to roll out with a 1,642 mAh battery, 8-megapixel rear camera, 1.2-megapixel front camera, Bluetooth 4.1 and 802.11ac Wi-Fi. The phone probably wouldn’t come with 3D Touch.
While apple has been rolling out new phones with unfailing regularity, the same cannot be said about its tablets. The iPad has been upgraded yearly but 2015 was an exception. Also, the nature of the upgrades is not as diverse and revolutionary as they have been in case of other Apple devices. Most experts believe that Apple is looking at a two-year cycle of upgrading iPads as compared to yearly and often half yearly upgrades for phones. We aren’t just about the normal software upgrades or updates. We are talking about substantial design changes, hardware improvements and launch of absolutely new software. With iPad Air 3, Apple expects to kick start this two year cycle.
Around midyear, Apple may roll out iPad Air 3 with better processor, memory and camera. There would be considerable advancements compared to the preceding tabs but one would still not get the 3D Touch or similar features which are stringently put aside for the watch and some phones. Given the company’s proclivity for some breakthroughs once in a while, one can expect some really surprising features or specs in iPad Air 3.
Despite Apple’s propensity for pricier tags, it has consistently tried to come up with variants that can cater to the audience that is more conservative with their choices of technology. Customers who want to use Apple products but have shied away due to the prices have found some options in the hybrids and crossovers. MacBook Air is going to fill in that role trying to balance the scales which are now heavily tilted against affordability and in favor of specs with Retina MacBook. The MacBook Air will neither have Retina display nor would it have some of the high end specs but it would be an entry level variant that would have enough jus. Portability, performance that one can bank upon and affordability are the checkboxes that Apple is trying to tick with the upcoming MacBook Air. MacBook Air is expected to come with 13 inch and 15 inch displays. There is enough murmur to indicate that Apple may make an official announcement or just might unveil the upcoming variants at the Worldwide Developers Conference. In line with all design changes, MacBook Air would perhaps be lighter, slimmer and might come with Skylake chips. The next generation Skylake chips of Intel have 34% faster Intel HD graphics, 10% faster CPU performance and the battery life can be enhanced by more than an hour. There are conflicting reports about the exact time when MacBook Air may be unveiled. Some are pinning their hopes on a yearend launch while some expect the launch to be much sooner.
The 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro has been delayed due to Intel. The latter has not been able to deliver the chips. For now, the Retina MacBook Pro seems to be poised for a spring release, latest would be summer. However, it is not clear if Apple is going to use the Broadwell chips that Intel has delivered or it would go for the Skylake chips that are already finding a place in the MacBook Air. The Skylake U-Series 28-watt chips which could be used in the 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro and the 45-watt H-Series chips with Intel Iris Pro graphics which could be used in the 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro seem to be the more probable specs. The exact dates of unveiling cannot be speculated upon because it is not entirely up to Apple. Many expect the rollouts to be phased and for updates similar to the ones rolled out in March and May of 2015 for the 13 inch and 15 inch models respectively. Retina MacBook Pro would possibly be a much slimmer version of the MacBook Pro and the design could be substantial different. But there has been no official word pertaining to the same.
MacBook (Early-to-Mid 2016)
The latest MacBook, supposed to be decked up with Skylake Core M chips, could be announced any time now. The Core M chips are capable of increasing the CPU performance by a handsome 20% if you compare the performance of Broadwell chips, enhance graphics performance by as much as 40% and they would ensure 10 hours of battery life. The second generation Retina MacBook may not have many changes in design or aesthetics. There could be more interesting color choices.
iMac (Late 2016)
iMac should have been unveiled and ready for launch already but like the MacBook Pro, the device has been delayed due to the Intel chips. iMac was updated in October so one doesn’t expect any major update in the first half of the year. However, Apple seems to be working on a redesigned iMac which could roll out towards the tail end of the year.
- We can expect iOS 10 to be released in the last quarter of 2016. Traditionally, Apple has launched a new version of its existing iOS to go with the newly launched iPhones. iOS 10 should keep up the tradition in 2016. Given the fact that the preceding iOS updates focused on features and not much has changed in regards to design, the upcoming iOS 10 may make bring in some substantial changes in design. The last iOS update to do this was iOS 7.
- OS X 10.12 is expected to be released around the same time as iOS 10. Whoever has followed Apple product releases over the years would know that one usually follows the other. OS X 10.11 El Capitan has been well received, especially with its bug fixes, and OS X 10.12 may bring in some significant changes.
- WatchOS 3 could be launched sometime early in 2016. The launch could be a standalone event or it could be tied up with the rollout of the new iOS. The second generation Apple Watch will need a new operating system if there are substantial changes in hardware and design. Also, new sensors are likely to feature in Apple Watch 2, which pretty much demands the WatchOS 3.
- tvOS 10 for Apple TV may be in the reckoning. There has been no major rumor about the same but the minor upgrades that Apple has launched for tvOS do not really qualify as game changers. It is likely that a major development is in the works. However, the anticipation is a sort of conjecture at the moment.
- Apple has always managed to keep the grapevine speculating about all kinds of developments. With limited sneak peek into the development of hardware or software of upcoming devices, one can always anticipate the launch of some tech shattering launches. Fifth-generation Apple TV may not be too farfetched an imagination. There are strong rumors that indicate Apple is working on an upgraded CPU for its fifth-generation Apple TV. A likely launch in 2016 cannot be ruled out entirely. It may not be before fall that you get to see one in the stores but the announcements could come much sooner. Even if there is no fifth generation Apple TV in the works for now, one can expect a major upgrade to the fourth generation variant. There is no official word from Apple as to how often they would upgrade their TV and since 2015 did not witness any massive developments, one can always expect something substantial in 2016.
Some of the other speculations pertain to an iPad Pro 2, iPad Mini 5, Mac Pro and Mac Mini. The iPad Pro 2 may follow the 2015 launched iPad Pro in late 2016 or early 2017. If Apple is going with an eighteen month or twenty four months window of updates then 2016 will not see any second generation iPad Pro. iPad mini 5 could also be slated for 2017. Mac Pro could undergo some serious changes before being rechristened and launched in 2016. Mac Pro could include the Grantley Xeon E5 V3 Haswell-EP processors or E5 V4 Broadwell-EP chips. If this is the case, then Mac Pro could be launched and in stores by fall. Mac Mini again may not see an early launch but there is a possibility that by the end of the year we would have a much updated Mac Mini, perhaps with Skylake processors. Two years without an update or a refresh is unheard of for Mac Mini. Thus, 2016 it is.
Given the gamut of expectations, it would be fair to infer that Apple has its plates full at the moment. Every time Apple has tried to overburden itself with market expectations, there have been technical challenges. The company fares best when it moves along at its own pace and comes up with really awesome gadgets. Here’s hoping that every product launch of Apple in 2016 is courtesy product development and some interesting upgrades, rather than just to keep the clock of updates and product launches ticking. Apple may not want another divided opinion or a split verdict as it had with Apple Watch. Whether it is the Mac or the MacBook, the Mini or the iPhone, the latest iOS or the WatchOS, the tech giant has to get it right. Putting all that aside, 2016 would be a great year for those who love new gadgets, more jus in the processors, hardware upgrades and some serious tweaking of existing designs. Apple fans have reasons to rejoice.
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