As the waning days of 2021 are upon us, it's time once again to
look ahead to the future, to the horizon. Despite a global pandemic
and supply chain woes aplenty, Apple has had a blockbuster year,
with successful launches of new iPhones and iPads, and a continued
transition on the Mac that is redefining the product line for the
we start thinking about closing the books on 2021, it's worth
looking ahead to that puck that Apple's skating towards. And while
we may have good reason to anticipate some of its upcoming
products, there are always places where Apple could have something
surprising up its sleeve.
This year's redesign of the 24-inch iMac gave us some idea of what we can
expect to see when the company presumably refreshes the current 27-inch iMac
sometime next year, including a focus on Thunderbolt/USB 4 ports,
eye-popping colours, and a slimmer design.
On the other hand, the
recent MacBook Pro update also embraced conventional options like
HDMI and an SD card slot, forwent the bright colors for traditional
silver and space gray, and actually got a little bit thicker than
From those data points, we can perhaps interpolate the larger,
more powerful iMac as taking something from both ends of the
spectrum. No doubt it will include the M1 Pro and M1 Max
processors, with more RAM and storage options, and perhaps a
smattering of additional ports.
Though I do think that the
positioning of the SD card reader on the back of the current iMac
has always been a bit inconvenient; perhaps Apple might consider
moving it to the side, à la the headphone jack on the 24-inch
Here's hoping it embraces fun and colour, even though it
seems possible Apple has decided that professionals like gray.
That 24-inch iMac also boasts a screen that's certainly far
larger than even the 16-inch MacBook Pro, but the specs on the
latter put it to shame: 254 pixels per inch, compared to 218 ppi on
the iMac, and double the average brightness (500 nits on the iMac
versus 1000 nits standard, let alone 1600 peak, on the MacBook
It would be a bit of a head-scratcher if Apple didn't bring
its high-end iMac up to the Liquid Retina XDR standard in the
MacBook Pro. It'd be nice if it bumped the display size up a bit
further than 27-inch, just as the 21.5-inch iMac went to 24 inches,
but rumours seem split on that.
Of course, the high-end Mac mini and the Mac Pro are also still
waiting for the Apple silicon chips to power them. It seems likely
that we'll see them by the end of 2022, as Apple puts the bow on
its two-year processor transition.
Apple's talk on augmented reality has been a constant over the
last several years, but it has continued to focus on improvements
to software, and we've yet to see a big push on the hardware end.
Meanwhile, companies like Microsoft and Meta (née Facebook) have been making these
technologies an increasing part of their strategies and, in the
case of the latter, their very identities.
Rumours of an Apple headset have been circulating for some time
now, and they've started to coalesce on next year as a time when
they might finally see the light of day. The most persistent are
about a device that does mixed reality, with both AR and VR
But Tim Cook has also spoken much more positively of the
experience of AR than of VR, and Apple is always going to put its
own spin on things.
The company will have its work cut out for it
to explain why this device is one that the average consumer is
going to want -- although perhaps that's a low-bar, given Meta CEO
Mark Zuckerberg's recent at-best lacklustre, at-worst
eye-roll-inducing concept videos.
Apple's had a challenging couple years in the home space. It's
discontinued its full-size HomePod in favour of the smaller HomePod
mini, and while it's ramped up support for the upcoming Matter
initiative that aims to interconnect smart home devices across
manufacturers, that really won't kick off in earnest until next
But word of a homeOS project reared its head once again this week, after a
mention in an Apple job posting. The term had cropped up earlier
this year, ahead of the Worldwide Developers Conference, but
nothing more was heard of it until now.
It could suggest a more
in-depth investment in smart home tech for Apple, and, combined
with a recent hire to oversee HomePod software might
mean the company is reinvigorating development in that area.
My biggest hope for homeOS is the rumored living room device
that would combine elements of the HomePod with the Apple TV and a
FaceTime video conferencing device.
Chatting with friends, family,
and co-workers over the internet has become even more prevalent
during the pandemic, and crowding around an iPad or a MacBook has
made the experience cramped and sometimes unpleasant.
A device that
integrates with your Apple TV to provide a more welcoming group
chatting experience could be a big winner, and might cement Apple's
place in the home.