Apple in 2014: Pocket-lint predicts
The last 12 months are in your rear view mirror and you're looking forward to seeing what Apple has up its sleeve in terms of new gadgets and products on which to spend your hard-earned cash.
You want to know if the next iPhone will have a larger display, whether the iWatch or Apple HDTV will finally release, and maybe your slightly hoping the MacBook Pro will ditch its aluminium unibody for something more modern. Well look no further. We've compiled all the speculation, rumours, and predictions for 2014 into one, neat, little hub for you.
Just remember, this information isn't confirmed. It's all hearsay from industry insiders, leaks, and informed analysts. So don't get mad at us if Apple stays quiet in 2014 and simply refreshes existing products. We're just as hopeful as you that the new year will bring new innovation from a company that holds the potential (and resources) to make us cry: "Take our money!"
Apple likes to follow patterns. We know this. You know this. So, let's just call this fact. One pattern it religiously sticks to is an annual iPhone release cycle. Specifically, Apple releases a fully improved iPhone every other year, though an "S" model debuts in between those years with fewer enhancements.
For instance: Apple launched the iPhone 5 in 2012 with a new design, bigger and better display, faster processor, longer battery life, but the iPhone 5S launched in 2013 with just a fingerprint scanner and camera upgrade. We can therefore expect the iPhone 6 to launch in 2014 with plenty of exciting changes.
Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo of KGI Securities claimed in September that the iPhone 6 would have a larger display somewhere between 4.5 and 5 inches. Analyst Gene Munster of Piper Jaffray echoed Kuo's report in November, when he said the iPhone 6 would have a larger screen. He also said it will release in the summer of 2014 (versus an autumn release) without an increase/decrease in price.
Apple switched up its naming convention for iPads when it released the iPad Air in 2013. It was essentially an iPad 5 with a new, lighter, iPad Mini-like build. Because Apple likes a good pattern though, many now expect iPads to adopt the MacBook naming convention. There's a MacBook Air, iPad Air...so that means Apple will launch an iPad Pro in 2014 to mirror MacBook Pro, right?
After the iPad Air unveiled, Piper Jaffray's Munster told investors in a note that the new iPad left room for a "Pro model" at some point. Although he predicts the iPad Pro might arrive closer to 2015, he says it should include a larger screen, more power, and possibly more size variety.
KGI Securities' Ming-Chi Kuo hasn't said much about the sixth-generation iPad's name, though he did predict - even before the iPad Air unveiled - that it would sport a 9.7-inch screen size, better resolution, and up to 40 per cent higher PPI than the Retina iPad 4.
Beyond analysts, leaks from inside Foxconn claimed Apple is working on a larger 12.9-inch iPad. PadNews took this rumour a bit further in December and reported Apple was working on two iPad Air successors. They're called the iPad Maxi and iPad Pro, and they will feature 2K- and 4K-resolution displays, respectively.
12-inch Retina MacBook
It's hard to image Apple going an entire year without giving its Mac line-up some sort of refresh. It is therefore safe to assume Apple will deliver hardware upgrades to both iMacs and MacBooks in 2014, but it would be more interesting to see a dramatic design change. We get it, Apple. You like aluminium unibody constructions.
Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo of KGI Securities claimed in October Apple would release a 12-inch MacBook with an entirely new design and Retina display. It will "redefine laptop computing", run an Intel chip, and could cost less than any other Apple notebook on the market. As for when we could expect to see an all-new MacBook, Kuo said Apple will launch it in Q2 or Q3 of 2014.
Kuo further revealed in October his predictions for iMacs. He claimed Apple would ship a cheaper iMac in Q2 or Q3 of 2014. A lower-cost model would help Apple to combat rivals and boost iMac sales overall, especially because the company reportedly didn't sell as many current iMacs as expected.
Apple TV update
Rumours emerged in the autumn that Apple would unveil a new and improved Apple TV in time for Christmas. That hasn't happened. So, now those reports are pointing to 2014 instead. Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo of KGI Securities predicted Apple would launch a new version of the Apple TV with an A7 processor, for instance.
Kou also noted that shipment growth of the refreshed Apple TV will be "limited" unless Apple integrates more TV content. Speaking of content, several reports from earlier this year suggested Apple was in talks with both TV networks and cable providers, all because it wanted partnerships that would bolster the entertainment experience of Apple TV.
Despite reports about near-finalised deals, nothing has come to fruition. Then again, some people have wondered if the alleged delay is because Apple is developing a game-changing product for 2014 or 2015. That product could be the Apple HDTV - rather than simply an improved Apple TV set-top box.
Yes, we know. You've heard about the Apple HDTV for years. But it could really launch soon. Seriously.
Paul Gagnon of NPD DisplaySearch claimed Apple was developing a full-fledged television set for 2015, at the earliest. Apple has pushed the product's release to 2015 because of content deal issues. The company was unable to secure unique offerings in 2013, such as a la carte pay-TV channels, which would have placed it ahead of rivals in the space.
Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo of KGI Securities also claimed content deals are causing a significant launch delay that will stretch until 2016. However, analyst Gene Munster of Piper Jaffray, who has reported several times since 2009 that an Apple HDTV set is in the works, disagreed with both Gagnon and Kou.
Jaffray dubbed 2014 as the year Apple would finally debut an HDTV - and he had some predictions about what to expect. The Apple HDTV will reportedly feature a simplified interface, unified control of connected devices, voice command support, access to the App Store for gaming, and FaceTime. As for whether it will have 4K or OLED, there are only rumours and hearsay at this point.
The iWatch is kind of like the Apple HDTV: a whole lot of buzz but not a lot of action. Next year could change all that, though. Many analysts, reports, and even patents have suggested Apple will unveil a digital watch in 2014.
Apple CEO Tim Cook is the main reason why people think an iWatch is coming. He spoke extensively at WWDC 2013 about how he is interested in wearable technology. Specifically, wearable technology for the wrist. Companies like Samsung and Sony have even jumped on board the wearables trend, releasing companion devices for smartphones.
It's not clear if Apple's product will be a companion to the iPhone or an independent product based on iOS. After all, Apple hasn't actually confirmed the much-rumoured iWatch project. Cook's enthusiasm over wrist wearables simply indicates the company is probably developing something (even if it is only a "hobby" like the Apple TV).
Analyst Gene Munster of Piper Jaffray has weighed in on the subject, of course. He claimed the iWatch will debut in 2014 with Siri/touch control and support for FaceTime, calls, SMS, notifications, search, photo-browsing and so on. As for pricing, the iWatch will supposedly cost around $350.
Oh, one last tidbit: the latest rumour has said the iWatch will come in different sizes in order to attract both men and women.
Apple completely redesigned iOS when it dreamed up iOS 7. Beyond visual changes within the update, Apple's mobile operating system notably gained a much-welcomed Control Center, significant updates to Notification Center, and other things. These enhancements hinted Apple will continue exploring ways to improve design, functionality, and features in iOS.
To date, rumoured features within iOS 8 include updated Maps with transit and trip planning, improvements to Photo Stream...and that's about it. The rumour mill is still spinning though, so expect more legitimate leaks in the coming months. In addition, if Apple holds to pattern, which it almost always does, we should see iOS 8 shown off for the first time at WWDC 2014.
READ: Apple iOS 7 review
OS X Syrah
Going back to the whole pattern thing, Apple has released new versions of its OS X desktop operating system every year as of late. You know what that means? Apple will more than likely release a new version sometime in 2014, and we should get our first sneak peek at the 2014 Worldwide Developers Conference.
Apple announced OS X Mavericks - the tenth major release of OS X - at WWDC 2013, and then released Mavericks in October as a free update through the Mac App Store. The software offered enhancements to battery life, Finder, iCloud integration, etc. It also marked the beginning of yet another change in naming conventions. Apple moved from names of big cats to names of locations in California.
Apple could continue with names of locations for the next version of OS X, though 9to5Mac reported in October the successor is internally code-named Syrah. That's a type of wine. Beyond what it will be called, 9to5Mac claimed Apple wants to make OS X look visually similar to iOS 7. There's very little information available about what exactly will change, though.
The Wild Card
We've covered potential updates to existing Apple products and all the rumours, but there is always the off chance the company will blow our minds and launch a product from left field.
We can't even begin to speculate about what that would be, but CEO Tim Cook confirmed earlier this year that Apple plans to introduce new product categories in 2014. According to Cook, Apple could use its skills and experience at building software, hardware, and services to create "great products" in categories Apple doesn't compete in today. Curiouser and curiouser!
Keep checking back for the latest information, because we'll regularly update this article as more predictions for 2014 surface.