Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Looking ahead to the fall's Apple goodness

Yes, I don't post here often anymore. Sorry about that. There's only so many places one can spread their social media wings and this is now down below my two Facebook pages, my Twitter feed, and my Tumblr.

That said, there's a long tradition I have done on these pages in particular, and that's prognosticating what Apple will do with their next announcement. And since one is coming a week from today (people deemed worthy are probably getting invites in their inboxes today), I figure it's time to go back to that tradition. I'll also dare to predict the rest of the fall as well.

First, coming September 10th…

New iPhone "5S": 100%. It will be announced, and my prediction is for the following features: new-generation "A7" processor with better graphics speed. Improved camera hardware, possibly 10-12MP camera sensor, improved 2-level flash. Newer standard radio installed. The likeliest "one more thing" for the new hardware? Not a fingerprint sensor (I think) but local speech recognition so that dictation can be more continuous and won't need to send every paragraph to the Internet, it'll work in real time. And I think that's likely enough that it's why we haven't seen a Beta 7 in developer land.

New iPhone "5C": Also 100%. This will be basically the same dimensions as the current 5 series, but scaled down in specs a little to stick with this past year's "A6" CPU and a plastic back. It's pretty much a cheaper-to-make version of the current iPhone 5. No real improvements or enhancements. This will sell for little-to-free pricing in the low end and prepaid markets.

One or more iPhone older models removed from market: 100%, but I think they'll remove all the currently sold models (4, 4S, 5) from the market and replace them with just the 5S and 5C. This will minimize SKUs in stock since there are more color options coming this year. This is the prediction I'm least certain of.

iOS 7 GM for developers that day: 100%. As always.

iOS 7 for iPad being delayed: 75%. They had been a little behind the curve on some of the iPad functionality all through the beta cycles. I think they may hold off on release for a while, maybe until the new iPads are announced later. Which brings me to:

New iPad and iPad mini in early October: I don't know the date, but that's my call.

Here's what I expect for new iPad gear:

"iPad 5" with redesigned slimmer form factor, all the software capabilities of iPhone 5S, A7 processor: 100%. It'll shave off a couple of ounces and get the camera from the current iPhone 5.

iPad mini with Retina Display, "A6X" processor from current full-sized iPad: 80%. There will be a new mini for sure, I am pretty confident they will add a Retina Display but not 100% positive. If they do, though, I'm buying it to be my next iPad so I hope so.

As for other Apple announcements:

Mac Pro shipping in late September along with OS X 10.9 "Mavericks": 90%. I think the OS will ship alongside the flagship hardware. I really do. If the hardware is not ready yet, 10.9 will still ship, but just alongside new MacBook Pro Retina models using the same "Haswell" chip series that is in the MacBook Air. The Mac Pro arrival is dependent on Intel, not on Apple.

MacBook Pros with Haswell shipping with Mavericks: 100%. See above.

Newer iMacs this fall, also Haswell-based: 100% - not so much the use of Haswell (but I think they will), but more in the general speedbumping and tweaks a year after the current model shipped.

Improvements to the Mac mini: 100% that something is done. Could be Haswell, could be something else. Maybe minor changes. The mini has become a workhorse in Apple's lineup and the only real server they sell. They'll do something other than just put 10.9 on it. Not sure what.

Apple "iWatch" or some other new category of product: 25% at most. I don't think any big new thing is coming for this holiday season. Much more likely for 2014. I think that'll be the big year.

Apple "iTV": 0%. Not happening. Apple does, though, have a clear direction and will do the following to AppleTV in the near future:

- Provide a HDMI input to wrap a regular cable box's input around. Kind of like what Chromecast is trying to do, but more robust.

- Keep developing value-add app platforms.

- Improve TV-Apple integration.

Basically, what I expect to see is a next-gen AppleTV with a decent processor that can put a layer on the TV that controls the overall experience you get from your cable provider, and also deliver content via apps instead of via TV itself. It'll also bring iOS gaming to the TV. The challenge is the control interface, else it would be out already.
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