So have we at all reached the point with Apple where they have a harder time surprising us? I suppose it seems so with all of the speculation about future product announcements. Well, sometimes Apple feeds a few tidbits, I suspect, possibly on background to selected reporters, and possibly in the hints they drop with public statements.
Take last April’s roundtable with a handful of tech journalists in which Apple basically admitted that the 2013 Mac Pro was a misfire, where they promised to do better to support the Mac, including release of a new Mac Pro that would answer customer requests for a modular system. Two months later, a whole bunch of Mac announcements came at the Worldwide Developer’s Conference.
That, to me, was a surprise largely because you don’t usually expect Apple to say much at such an event, beyond the next macOS and perhaps an occasional discussion about a high-end Mac, such as the Mac Pro. So the 2013 event included a demonstration of the infamous “trash can” configuration.
As you recall, Mac notebooks were all refreshed, there was a new iMac, and the promise of an iMac Pro, for December release, listing for $4,999 and up.
After that event, the discussion largely returned to the alleged iPhone 8, which has been a point of discussion since early in 2016, months ahead of the release of the iPhone 7. In fact, we were often told that you shouldn’t buy any iPhone until the 10th anniversary edition comes out. Even then, however, there was talk of an edge-to-edge OLED display as part of a very new design.
Besides, the iPhone 7 didn’t even have a headphone jack. Apple is no doubt envisioning a wireless future.
So if you look at the constant chatter, it appears that many of the features of this presumed iPhone 8 are already known. In addition to OLED, there may be a 3D facial recognition scheme that’s being called Pearl ID, because of some links in the leaked firmware for the forthcoming HomePod. It’s not that Apple would comment either way, or maybe they are happy to allow it to happen because it only intensifies the discussion and expectations.
So in addition to new iPhones, there may be, at last, a fifth generation Apple TV with support for Ultra HD (4K) and HDR. But little else is being mentioned, but it would be nice if Apple looked at tepid sales and did something serious about the overwrought pricing.
At the same time, there’s talk of Apple fighting with the movie companies to offer 4K and HD movies for the same price. My only response to that is “fat chance.” But even if there is 4K support in the next AppleTV, and I had a spare hundred-and-a-half to buy one — and another $600 or so for a cheap 4K set — I probably wouldn’t bother. I’m not at all convinced you’ll see much of an advantage with highly compressed streamed video from Amazon, Netflix and other sources.
But what do I know?
There are also reports, again based on that notorious firmware discovery, that the Apple Watch Series 3 will include an LTE radio for cellular data. Maybe for phone calls, maybe more in the spirit of an iPad, but at least there will be less reliance on the iPhone.
At least we can be reasonably assured that nothing new is coming on the iPad front, since those announcements have probably already been made.
All this will supposedly be known on September 12th, when Apple holds its annual iPhone event.
So if it’s going to be devoted to the iPhone, Apple TV and Apple Watch, plus the new OS releases, can there be any surprises? Or, after two hours, will people just walk away from the event suggesting there was nothing new beyond the usual slick demonstrations?
While I agree that Apple keynotes have become more predictable, there were some surprises at the WWDC. While early reports suggested refreshed MacBooks, the chatter about the other new Macs was less certain. The same was true for the iPad.
But I have little doubt there are features in the new gear we don’t know about, and that the ones described in the rumors will be somewhat different than you might expect.
I suppose there could be a surprise or two.
So what about the rest of the year? Will there be a fall Mac event to launch the iMac Pro and perhaps give us a sneak peak of the next Mac Pro? If only to cement Apple’s ongoing commitment to Macs, it might be a good idea. I suppose the Mac mini could be refreshed at the time, and perhaps there might be a HomePod demonstration to keep the interest high. I’m not at all certain if Apple’s smart speaker system will get much attention at the iPhone event, except, perhaps, a brief mention.
But after following Apple for 30 years, I do not pretend to be capable of making ironclad predictions. Well, I do get a few things right, such as OS X Mavericks being offered free, signaling a new policy that sort of replicated how it worked in the 1980s and part of the 199os, even though there were retail versions at the time. But they largely served a small number of customers who didn’t want to carry along sets of floppy disks to an Apple dealer or user group.
In any case, I’ll be watching eagerly, still hoping to be amazed.
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