For several years, some tech and industry analysts were claiming that Apple was poised to release a “real” Apple TV, a smart TV set. But it never arrived. Much of the speculation was fueled by the quote from Steve Jobs, in Walter Isaacson’s authorized biography, that he had cracked the secret of the ultimate TV interface. Of course he didn’t actually say that the interface would appear in a TV set, but assumptions were assumptions.
Clearly Apple’s competitors were freaked, and even Lenovo, a major PC manufacturer, announced a smart TV set for the Asian market, although it doesn’t seem to have actually gone on sale.
This year, the final nail in the coffin was the claim that Apple had worked on a smart TV for several years, but couldn’t come up with a product and marketing concept that would succeed against the mass of low-cost and low-profit sets.
Of course, we’ll probably never know the truth, at least not for years, since Apple usually doesn’t reveal anything about the products under development that never see the light of day. True or not, it’s easy to speculate about unreleased gear, and blame alleged product delays when the gear doesn’t see the light of day. It’s a convenient excuse.
There are also rumors about upcoming features in a product that sometimes don’t pass the smell test. Take the one about FaceTime and the next Apple Watch. Now I wouldn’t presume to guess what Apple will do for the first refresh. Remember, too, that a WatchOS 2 is promised for this fall with a number of improvements. But somehow shoehorning a camera into the Apple Watch is but one problem. The other is the usability, forcing people to hold their watches in a single position to capture their faces, not to mention the gadget’s usual setup that puts it back into idle mode to conserve battery life after a few seconds.
But an article listing expected features in any Apple product may be certain clickbait, regardless of whether it makes any sense at all. With FaceTime it doesn’t, at least not until technology and battery life improves substantially, and maybe not even then.
We’ve also heard about a possible large iPad known as iPad Pro for a while now. One story pegged it as having a 12.9-inch display. When it failed to appear, there were claims that Apple had difficulties sourcing acceptable flat panels from its display partners. Since the story was never confirmed, any excuse can be made as to why the product doesn’t appear.
Sure, this doesn’t mean that Apple doesn’t have a larger iPad under development. It would make sense, and adding Split View to iOS 9 may help pave the way for one or more larger form factors. But don’t expect anything table-sized a la Microsoft. That’s too much of a niche product, and Apple doesn’t play in that arena. After all the Apple TV set-top box, selling in the millions, only exited hobby status last year, but barely.
For a while, it was even expected that the next Apple TV would somehow debut at the WWDC. The reason was a rumored Apple TV SDK to allow third-party developers to create apps for the platform. Right now apps appear at random when Apple makes a deal with a content provider. Shortly before the conference, stories appeared that the product wouldn’t show up.
As a practical matter, Apple TV is the sort of gadget that would show normally appear in the fall, ahead of the holiday season, since that’s where the highest sales would be achieved. This is particularly true for a relatively cheap gadget that might be purchased for gift-giving. I suppose we’ll see, but I’m not buying the claim that Apple will avoid support for 4K TV streams at first for some unspecified reason. With the TV makers pushing 4K heavily, it wouldn’t make a lick of sense for Apple not to be in the forefront of that technology.
After all, there is a 5K iMac, which allows you to edit 4K video with room for menus and palettes. Other Macs can also drive 4K and 5K displays, so what sense would it make to omit such a feature from Apple TV? But I read a curiously incoherent piece trying to justify such an unproven, unannounced decision as if it made sense from a marketing standpoint. It doesn’t.
In any case, there are rumors that Apple has already begun to manufacture the next iPhones, presumably to be known as the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus. The key feature is said to be Force Touch. Now that one makes sense, since Apple added that feature to some MacBooks after introducing it on the Apple Watch. It would be ideal for an iPhone if Apple can get it to work.
But if the feature doesn’t show up, there will always be a good excuse. It’s not that the people who publish Apple rumors will readily admit that they got it all wrong.