Did you hear the latest rumor about Apple's "explorations" into a Dick Tracy-like smartwatch that'll soon be attaching itself to everybody's wrists? It's coming soon. Or never. But it's just another one of an avalanche of products Apple is rumored to have in the works.
We've rounded up everything Apple's supposed to have in the pipeline. If even half of them are true, Cupertino's got its hands full.
All of these are just rumors, of course, and nothing more. And even if Apple is working on something, that doesn't mean it'll ever turn into a product. Companies on experiment on new things all the time that never see the light of day. That's why it's called research and development. You research it, you develop it, and then mayyyybe you make it. So don't think of this as a crystal ball. It's more of a deep breath, a chance to see just how broadly Apple's ambitions range. Or at least, how long the rumormongers' wish list is.
Oh yeah, and this doesn't even begin to address all those silly patents.
Apple is working on a new phone to follow the iPhone 5 because obviously. Reports have "surfaced" that Apple is "testing" the iPhone 6 right now, but do you really need a "report" to tell you that Apple is building the next generation of what is probably the single most successful consumer product in history?
The big iPhone 6 questions concern the nature of the next upgrade and its timing. Will Apple's next flagship iPhone will be a comprehensive hardware overhaul like the iPhone 5 was, or a supercharged version of an existing model in the tradition of the iPhone 3GS and 4S. Given Apple's product cycles, it's likely to just be a 5S, and it probably won't drop until the fall. We're willing to bet it will have a processor similar to the A6X that's currently in the fourth-generation iPad. But most of all, some version of the next iPhone is definitely hanging out in a Cupertino bunker somewhere.
Duh, again. Just as Apple pushes out new iPhones every year, the original line of iPads gets an upgrade as well. As with the new iPhone, best bet is that it will drop in the fall.
The big question with the iPad is what feature would really entice people to spring for an expensive new flagship versus an older model. Retina was a nice addition last spring, but arguably non-essential. Then in the fall, Apple juiced its flagship tablet with the A6X processor and supercharged quad-core graphics. But really, that was mostly an excuse to migrate users over to Lightning connectors. We'll have to wait and see what's next.
iPad Mini with Retina Display
The iPad Mini was an overdue addition to the iPad line to compete with excellent small tablets like Amazon's Kindle FIre HD and the Google Nexus 7. But for all of the benefits of the Mini's size, the 1024 x 768 (163 ppi) display was disappointingly low-resolution compared to the 264 ppi screen on the newest iPad.
While we were critical of zero-evidence rumors about a tiny retina tablet that surfaced shortly after the iPad Mini's launch, we still think it's likely that's the feature that will be the next iPad Mini's main talking point. With only an A5 processor on board, the current iPad Mini can't support a retina display. But even the tiniest bump in specs to an A5X would make the iPad Mini ready for retina graphics.
Streaming Radio Service
Apple's Pandora-killing radio service has been rumored for a while. As things tend to go with licensing, the word is that the service been caught up in negotiations with the major record labels. The latest report we heard was that the service would launch early this year. In terms of, you know, actually evidence, "radio buy" files with accompanying icons were just discovered in jailbroken iPads, indicating that the infrastructure for such a service could already be coded and lying in wait.
The Phone 5 is unbelievably slim and light and wonderful, and even though it's slightly larger than its predecessor, there's a popular rumor floating that Apple will bump up the iPhone's size once again to match the five-inch prowess of its Android competition.
Why would Apple change now? To play catch up. There's clear and demonstrated demand in the market for larger phones, so it makes sense that Apple might make one, and some math by more than one intelligent person seems to lay out a smart argument for what such a phone might look like. Marco Arment's argument for a 4.94-inch, 16:9 phone is particularly compelling.
While Apple makes the most visible smartphone out there, Google's Android OS is quietly winning the numbers game in large measure because it's so cheap. Which might be why the WSJ and others have claimed a low-cost iPhone is in the works for years now. Eh, maybe.
Budget iPhones have been available for some time. They're built into Apple's product cycles. Last year's iPhone is this year's budget iPhone. Consider that the iPhone 4S is a solid competitor to most $100 smartphones out there—as long as you can get over the fact that it doesn't have LTE. Will Apple introduce a new line of iPhones targeted specifically at lower-price point customers when it's already selling its top-of-the-line model by the tens of millions? Seems like an odd choice.
There are some ridiculous rumors out there, but the latest about an Apple smartwatch or wearable device of some kind with an ergonomic curved glass display doesn't sound absolutely preposterous—especially given the company's history and current trends. Wearable gadgets like the Nike Fuelband and Jawbone Up are popping up from loads of manufacturers, and Apple's been working on personal metrics tracking with Nike on the iPod and other products for years. What's more, during last year's Apple-versus-Samsung courtroom extravaganza, it came out that Apple at one point considered curved glass for the iPhone but decided it was too expensive. That means Apple has at least considered curved glass touchscreen technology before.
Still, all of these little shards of speculative evidence don't add up to a shred of tangible proof that Apple's actually preparing to launch this product. Who knows, maybe in a few years. But that's also enough time to for a company to change its mind.
A Cable-Like Set-Top Box
The Apple TV is already a set-top box, but in the past, Apple approached the big networks about streaming content licenses in the hopes of offering something akin to a cable or streaming video service. More recently, that rumor evolved into Apple making what amounts to a fancy cable box with a more intuitive guide feature. Who knows! The closest thing to a sure thing is that the existing Apple TV will get an update sometime in the next year. Hopefully with apps!
15-Inch MacBook Air
A 15-inch MacBook Air has reportedly been in the works on and off since 2009. And wouldn't it be great? A thrifty 15-inch laptop would be a wonderful boon—to some people.
The reality is that 15-inch laptops have proven to be a niche over the years. The MacBook Air—compared the the MacBook Pro line—is a budget consumer focused model designed for people who don't want or need 15-inches of screen. For professional applications that require slim, ultra-lightweight 15-inch laptops, the new Retina MacBooks are here. They're not cheap, but it's as close as we're going to get for now.
Ah, yes, the infamous Apple HDTV. Analysts have foretold its arrival for years, and for years no magical television has invaded our living rooms. It's the most storied of all of the non-existant Apple products that the cascade of useless analysts drones like to peddle. This, despite the lack of any real evidence whatsoever that Apple has any interest at all in producing a television.
Sure, the thought of producing an HDTV must have at least passed through the minds of Apple executives. How could it not? At one point in time, the television was the consumer electronic product par excellence. But no matter how badly we will it, the Apple television still isn't a thing you can buy, and we don't have any more reason to believe it will be than we did two years ago.