Apple might be one of the most secretive tech companies on the planet, but that isn't stopping us from looking at its plans for 2019. But while our crystal ball can see some predictable differences in its iPhone line, other parts of Apple's businesses aren't as obvious.
So let's take a stroll through Apple's many product lines and ventures, to find out what's up next for the Cupertino-based giant. Oh, and pop some popcorn, because that Apple TV might finally get exclusive content.
iPhone in 2019: iPhone 11, iOS 13 and the Return of SE?
One of a few givens in Appleland is that the new year will bring new iPhones and a new iOS. But don't expect a modest upgrade for 2019. "If history's our guide, the next iPhone will feature a new design, as Apple just had an S-year, an update to the previous year," said Tim Bajarin, president of Creative Strategies "Most likely, instead of iPhone X, it will be the iPhone 11,"
Left out in this year’s trio of new iPhones was a model for people who prefer a smaller display, something Apple could remedy in 2019. T"I certainly hope that Apple introduces an iPhone XSE with Face ID and a significantly smaller form factor for people who find even the iPhone XS too large," said Avi Greengart, TK at Current Analysis.
What else might the next iPhone pack? "Other possibilities include variable refresh rate displays, an improved rear cameras, potentially including depth sensors for AR," Greengart said.
The lowest hanging fruit?, "Apple is on an annual update cycle for its silicon, so the next iPhones will be faster and have improved graphics and AI capabilities while using less power," Greengart said. So expect Tim Cook to call the next iPhone the fastest iPhone ever.
Just don't expect that speed to carry over to its cellular connection. All reports point to Apple skipping the rush to go to 5G in 2019, and Greengart agrees, saying, "I am not expecting a 5G iPhone until September 2020."
And regarding iOS 13? Well, back when iOS 12's features first leaked, we heard that Apple was punting on a Home screen redesign in favor of an update focused on stability and refinements. So, we'd expect Apple to deliver on that fresh new Home screen in 2019, as its current design is getting stale, with Apple staying true to the exact same layout it's had since the first days of iOS.
Bajarin believes iOS 13 will also include "a stronger set of features that make the iPhone even better with AR applications."
AirPods 2.0 … or AirPod Pro?
When exactly? Bajarin believes they'll drop "in the early spring," possibly at WWDC in June, even though, as he told me, Apple's "early-year announcements are mostly targeted at buyers in the education market" who need to lock in orders earlier than most.
And while I've been following the AirPods 2.0 rumors closely, Greengart introduced an interesting concept, saying, "Apple may split the line and create a higher-end AirPod Pro with better audio quality and noise cancellation." Instead, existing AirPods 2 rumors point to AirPods 2 featuring stronger connection quality, possibly with Bluetooth 5.0, and a wireless charging case.
What can Apple add to its iPads?
2018 was an interesting year for Apple's iPads. The normal 9.7-inch iPad didn't change that much (aside from getting pencil support) but the iPad Pro got a redesign, the fastest mobile processor ever in a tablet and a brand-new Apple Pencil.
Bajarin believes that Apple's looking to "push away from the regular iPads to the Pro series," and he expects the iPad Pro to get a "higher resolution camera for teleconferencing."
Greengart told me, "A fully user-accessible file system and desktop version of Safari are at the top of my wish lists there," and many are hoping for a more desktop-like interface to improved productivity.
HomePod 2: How can Apple catch up?
The HomePod isn't bad, but Apple's still got a lot to do to catch up with the rest of the market. Bajarin said that 2019 could see "a new HomePod that's smaller and less expensive," as well as improve the sound of the regular HomePod, in the way Apple typically improves new products in their second year. Greengart also mentioned such a possibility, and dubbed it the HomePod Mini.
But there are more important upgrades needed under the hood, as Greengart notes that "Siri will need to get a lot more capable and Apple’s HomeKit team will need to dramatically expand its reach … if it wants to catch up with Amazon and Google in the digital home."
MORE: Best Smart Home Hub
New MacBooks for 2019 and the next macOS
Things are more hazy when it comes to Apple's laptops. Regarding the MacBook Pro, Bajarin believes Apple's "very much dependent on Intel's processor roadmap." Intel has been late in delivering 10-nanometer processors, which would enable Apple to offer a slim fanless design that delivers more power than the 12-inch MacBook and MacBook Air.
When asked about the 12-inch MacBook, Bajarin said that while "it's due a significant processor upgrade and could get smaller bezels," that's not for certain. Specifically, Bajarin told me that while he likes the MacBook, "a change is dependent on how Apple feels about the MacBook Air, which could change the company’s opinion on whether they still need the MacBook."
And as for that MacBook Air, Bajarin notes how long it took for us to get 2018's update as a way of saying he's not expecting one this year.
When it comes to macOS 10.15, all we know is that Apple's June 2018 event gave us evidence that the company wants to bring iOS apps to the Mac. So, we should see more synergies between macOS and iOS for the next update.
The New Mac Pro is coming
Apple's power user community has had its eyes on 2019 for a while, as the company has already said it will debut a new Mac Pro during the year. The most recent Mac Pro was essentially rejected by the pro community for not being customizable enough.
Greengart told me the next Mac Pro "should both more powerful and have a modular architecture enabling creative professionals to load up on GPU power." The specific time frame for such a machine, Bajarin reminded me, is dependant on Intel and its chips.
Oh, and one more thing: Apple's TV Projects
What of the oft-rumored Apple TV subscription service, where Apple will supposedly provide free original programming to its device owners? Bajarin noted that since we're hearing so much about Apple "hiring high-profile names" that he expects "one or two of those shows to launch in 2019," because of how long it takes to produce a whole season.
Reports suggest those shows will launch in a subscription service from Apple, hitting in early 2019, coming alongside a revamped version of the TV app. That should be the bulk of the Apple TV news, though, as we don't expect to see new hardware any time soon.
Credit: Tom's Guide