Apple in 2014: The Year of the iWatch

It's that time of year again. It's time to make our first predictions as to what Apple will announce in 2014. 2013 has been an exciting year for Apple, we saw the iPhone 5s with a fingerprint scanner, the iPhone 5c, new iPads, and the long awaited new Mac Pro. Every year, just like I do before every Apple event, I take a look at what to expect from Apple in the next year. Remember that these are very early predictions, and they will not be as accurate as my event predictions. Come back for event predictions for more accurate predictions.

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Before we start, i'd like to talk about Tim Cook for a second. Since Tim Cook took over as Apple's CEO in 2011, he's been teasing new product categories. In April, at an Apple Earnings Call, teased "the potential of exciting new product categories," adding that the company is "hard at work on some amazing new hardware, software, and services that we can't wait to introduce in the fall and into 2014." The statement is later carefully parsed by John Gruber to reveal that Cook managed to avoid actually promising any new products in 2013. In May, he downgraded the idea of TV to a "grand vision" and wearable technology is "profoundly interesting". In July Apple began filing for "iWatch" trademarks. Just remember this information as you read on.

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iPod

Apple hasn’t updated the iPod line since the iPhone 5 announcement in September 2012, and there is a semi-decent chance that we’ll see some new ones this year. In the case that the iPhone gets a bigger screen (which I’m willing to bet money it will) the iPod touch may gain it as well, although i’d be surprised if Touch ID makes it way to the touch. It’s pretty hard to predict a new Nano or Shuffle, but rest assured that if we get a new touch, we’ll get new nanos and shuffles as well.

There is also always the question "Is this the year Apple finally kills off the Classic". Probably not. Obviously Apple is still making money from it and doesn’t want to get rid of it yet, otherwise they would have done it a long time ago.

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Macs

As always, we’ll probably see the standard refresh of the usual suspects of Mac devices. Expect to see new MacBook Airs, MacBook Pros, iMacs, and Mac minis with updated specs but nothing much beyond that.

One thing to note however is that Apple may officially kill off the non-retina display MacBook Pro. Since the launch of the new MacBook Pros with Retina-Display, Apple only sells one non-retina MacBook Pro.

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OS X

If there is one definitive thing that came out of Apple that defined 2013, it’s probably iOS 7. If you remember back to a couple months ago, OS X got a pretty minor update, were as iOS got… well iOS 7. Expect that same thing this year, except reversed. OS X is going to get some very major updates this year, as already reported by 9to5mac.

Expect OS X to get it’s biggest design overhaul since the launch of OS X. OS X will inherit some, although not as rapidly, of the design elements of iOS 7. Also, OS X will likely gain Siri, and beyond that there is nothing I can surely guess will be part of OS X 10.10.

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iOS

As stated before, don’t expect a huge iOS update this year. Just expect some polishing of iOS 7. We also may finnaly see some mobile payment features (see: iPhone 6). Again, it’s very hard to predict what to expect in a new operating system.

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iPhone

Here’s where things start to get interesting… and complicated. This year we will get a new iPhone, as always, and it won’t be part of the "5" generation of devices.

The first thing to discuss with the new iPhone is the naming. The way I see it, there are two possibilities as to what the name could be: iPhone 6 or iPhone Air. Let me just say that 6 months ago I was completely certain this phone would be called iPhone 6, but then Apple announced the iPad Air and screwed up my theory. As a matter a fact, the iPad Air naming screws up a lot of things in terms of predictions (more on that later).

The iPhone 6, which is what I will be referring to it as, will probably include an A8 processor, 2GB of RAM, hopefully a larger battery, and, of course, iOS 8. However, there will be three big areas Apple will focus with this iPhone: Design, Screen, and Camera.

The design will be different, as this is a new generation of iPhone, which makes it even more likely that the name could be iPhone Air. This iPhone, like the iPhone 5, will be the second time that Apple has increased the screen size of the iPhone. It seems that this new iPhone will have a 4.7-inch display, up from the 4-inch display on the iPhone 5, 5s, and 5c, and the 3.5-inch display on every iPhone before that. Also, expect some camera updates in this iPhone, as we have seen very little since the 4s.

Apple will likely announce the iPhone 6 at an event in September. This new iPhone will, as always, start at $199 for 16GB all the way up to 64GB for $399. The iPhone 5S will become $100, and the iPhone 5C will become free.

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iPad

Oy. There are so many issues that Apple has to face this year with iPad, it’s not even funny. The successor to the iPad Air will be called… well, I don’t know. I actually haven’t the slightest clue as to what Apple could call the next iPad. It can’t be iPad Air 2, nor could they go back to calling it just iPad. Actually, while were talking about it, let’s discuss this whole "Air" thing.

"And we’re calling it… Air"

At October’s Apple Keynote, Tim Cook’s biggest surprise of the day was the naming of the new iPad. This new iPad was called iPad Air. For those that watch my talk show BGL, you know that since the rumors started years ago, i’ve always denied the possibility of a 12-inch iPad, or iPad Pro. It really still doesn’t make any sense to me. Up until this moment in October, there was zero chance of an iPad Pro. This changed things though. If you think about it, why the hell did they rename the iPad "Air"? They claimed it was because it was light, but that really doesn’t justify anything. If there’s an Air, the only logical step is a Pro. So, in conclusion, yes. I do think there will be an iPad Pro and, yes, I do think it’s coming this year.

The New iPad Air and iPad mini with Retina Display

The New iPad Air and mini with Retina Display, which will both likely launch at an October event, will likely see no design changes. This new iPad will only see internal changes. Expect the A8 processor, 2GB of Ram, basically the specs of the iPhone 6. As indicated by this years product line, Apple wants the iPad mini with Retina Display to be an identical, just smaller, version of the larger iPad.

Both of these iPads will likely launch at an October event for the same prices as last years models.

The iPad 2 and iPad mini

The iPad 2, which came out in 2011, is still being sold. It has 3 year old specs, no retina display, and costs $400. The iPad mini has the same exact specs, and is sold for $300. It seems it may be time for Apple to get rid of both of these devices, especially considering their specs might not even be good enough to run iOS 8.

The iPad Pro

I don’t know why, I don’t know what benefits there is, but for some odd reason, Apple is probably launching an iPad Pro this year. This new iPad is rumored to have a 12.9-inch display and will likely have a resolution of 2738x2048. I’m not gonna spend much time predicting the internals of this device, as there is very little rumors or ways to guess.

The main reason I thought this could never happen was the pricing. This device will likely be targeted at businesses and education. So let’s say Apple decides to simply ditch the 16GB model for this device because that doesn’t make any sense. The lowest I could see this retailing for is $699. That means the 64GB model would cost $899, just $100 less then the MacBook Air. If this device exists it will likely launch in October, however, it could be announced at a special event where Apple will announce the iWatch.

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iWatch

"Every once in a while, a revolutionary product comes along that changes everything."

When Steve Jobs biography came out in 2011, Jobs hinted at the notion that Apple’s next big thing was a television set.

"He very much wanted to do for television sets what he had done for computers, music players, and phones: make them simple and elegant," Isaacson wrote.
Isaacson continued: "‘I’d like to create an integrated television set that is completely easy to use,’ he told me. ‘It would be seamlessly synced with all of your devices and with iCloud.’ No longer would users have to fiddle with complex remotes for DVD players and cable channels. ‘It will have the simplest user interface you could imagine. I finally cracked it."

For a year after this book came out, Tim Cook teased time after time after time the possibility of a TV from Apple, but then he changed course. As a talked about above, Tim Cook has called wearables "profoundly interesting", and has been careful to not promise any new product categories in 2013 but not 2014. All of this combined, and the WSJ confirmation, means we will see an iWatch this year.

I know I say this a lot, but above all else, the hardest thing to predict in the technology industry is new product catagories. Think back to 2009 when we knew Apple was prepping a tablet, we just didn’t know anything about it. In fact, if you were there when all of the rumors were coming out, we were all pretty certain it was going to run OS X, not iOS (at the time iPhone OS).

So because of this, I will not be predicting design, nor will I try to predict most features. The iWatch will likely not require any device to be connected to it to work, and could possibly include a 3G radio inside of it. The device will likely also do all of the things the current watches do that are on the market.

The price is an interesting question. I’m going to guess around $300-$400. This might seem like a lot, but all 1st gen Apple products are usually really expensive, and then the price begins going down around 2nd or 3rd gen.

Although there is no evidence to back this up besides knowledge of how Apple schedules events, I think Apple will likely do a separate event to announce the iWatch, and at this event possibly unveil the iPad Pro. If Apple decides to do things this way, this event will likely be in March. If not then the iPad Pro will be unveiled with the other iPads in October, and the iWatch at either the WWDC or the September keynote.

Conclusion

It seems Apple is in for a very exciting year. We’ll see new Macs, a major OS X update, iOS 8, a new iPhone, new iPads, and the iWatch.

What do you think Apple will do in 2014? Do you think I was right or wrong? Any questions or comments? Let me know in the comments or tweet them to me @bzgoldman, and join us for a live Q&A event were we’ll answer all your comments and questions live. The event will take place on Tuesday, December 24 at 7:00 PM EST on YouTube.

Thanks for reading!