The Apple iPhone announcement is over, iOS 7 releases today and soon holiday decorations will be arriving in storefronts (really, it happens earlier each year). There's still three months left in 2013 and I don't think Apple's done with what they have in store for us. So that got me thinking about what's next. Here are my off the cuff thoughts.
I suspect we'll see a refresh to the iPad line in October, just in time for the holiday season. The full size iPad will get a redesign that will bring it more in line with the look and feel of the Mini. I suspect it will also see many of the premium features just introduced with the iPhone 5s including a fingerprint sensor, A7 and M7 chip, and camera improvements.
The Mini I think is harder to nail down, which is frustrating because I plan on making the Mini my next iPad purchase. I believe the Mini will go retina this year, I think Apple needs to do this to stay in line with the competition. However, in order to distinguish it from the full size iPad, I don't think the Mini will get all the premium features of the full size model. It's possible, but not a guarantee the Mini will get the A7 chip. The rationale for the A7 Mini is Apple wanting to standardize on a 64-bit architecture for their iPads, and push App development to 64-bit. But the obvious reason not to is cost. I think this is all a factor of in what quantity and cost can Apple produce the A7. Despite the cool factor, I can see the Mini lacking the fingerprint sensor and receiving only a modest camera upgrade, more in line with the 5c to save on costs. I hope I'm wrong about this because I think TouchID is one of the coolest new features of the iPhone 5s and I'd love to have it on my future Mini.
What happens with the iPad 2? I'm a little surprised it stayed in the lineup this long, but I think this is the year it could disappear. One way to solve this problem would be to keep the current generation Mini around perhaps at a sub-$300 price point and possibly add some hip colors to the mix with a plastic shell like the iPhone 5c.
Did you notice the iPods got a quiet color upgrade to "space gray" when the iPhones were announced? There you go, I think you've seen the iPod update. I suspect we've reached the point in the iPod lifecycle and demand where they don't need to be refreshed every year. It's possible you may see a slight price drop or in the iPod touch line or changes to the colors, but nothing earth-shattering. Don't be surprised if the classic quietly disappears one day.
We all know it's coming, I suspect the release date will be formally announced at an event in early to mid October. To be shipped late October or early November. Although I am not a member of the Apple Developer community and am not currently testing Mavericks, everything I've heard is that it tends to be running behind schedule, likely due to resources being devoted to iOS 7. Now that has shipped, teams will be able to switch gears to finalizing Mavericks. I don't think it will be free, but I think it will be sub $20.
We'll see a minor software updated today with the release of iOS 7 to add compatibility with new features like iTunes Radio and better photo stream support I think we could also get some new sharing features as originally reported by the Wall Street Journal as that would be in line with Apple's emphasis on sharing in iOS 7. But I suspect we'll see something more later this year in terms of a more significant software update and new hardware announced at an Apple event in October. This will not be the major overhaul to Apple TV that people are hoping for, but will get us one more step closer. The new hardware will be faster, featuring 802.11 ac and perhaps bumped internal specs. The software update I suspect will add new channels from a couple of partner cable TV sources (we heard a leak of this earlier this year with the CW) and a better way organizing the splash screen now that Apple is consistently adding more content. However, there will not be a public developer kit, Apple's not ready to let the masses develop for Apple TV.
You saw Apple's response to the iWatch/wearable device category already, it was the announcement of the M7 chip. Apple's playing in this category by dipping their toe in the water and seeing what they can do with an M7 in an iPhone. At least for now. I think they're working on something and you'll see the technology in the M7 pop up again in the future, but not anytime soon.
I suspect new Macs are waiting on Mavericks. We've already seen the Mac Pro but don't know much about the specs or price. I expect we'll get more information about configuration options and pricing on the Mac Pros and a pre-order date in October, but expect them, like the iMacs last year, to be very supply constrained for the next few months. Oh yeah, and they're going to be very expensive.
With the exception of the MacBook Airs which were refreshed in June, just about all the Mac are due for an update. I think we'll see new MacBook Pros and iMacs before the end of the year. More questionable on the Mac mini which doesn't get refreshed as often. Nothing earth-shattering here, just the typical speed-bump revisions.
I personally have never liked splitting the MacBook Pro into two separate lines distinguishing between Retina and non-Retina models. While I understand the need for the different price points and machines with built-in SuperDrives and Ethernet ports, I can't help but feel like Apple's product line-up is getting cluttered. I hope this is the year the old MacBook Pros go away and the Retina MacBook Pros are the only MacBook Pros, but I'm not sure we're quite there yet.
I love the idea of the fingerprint sensor in the iPhone 5s. But I think Developers need to be realistic. I don't see Apple opening up the API to this in the next year. First, they need to make sure it's rock-solid and we won't know that until it's been out in the wild for a while. I think with iOS 8 next year you'll see it open up a bit, but only to Apple. You'll see the fingerprint sensor work with Apple's apps and with the Keychain or apps like Passbook which Apple will use to try to promote developers to plug into their existing applications. Want your gift card to work with TouchID? Then develop a Passbook compatible App. Want to fill password, plug into our keychain. Remember it's been over a year now since Siri was released and developers still don't have much access.