What's next for Apple in 2016: New product rumor roundup

Posted:
in Future Apple Hardware edited January 2016
Even though Apple's first major hardware launches for 2016 are probably still months away, rumors of the company's roadmap are already widespread, including some potential shakeups for products like the iPhone.

iPhone 7 & 7 Plus





Apple is of course working on its next-generation flagship iPhones, presumably to be called the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus. One rumor is that the devices will be fully waterproof, building on the partial water protection of the iPhone 6s. Apple may also switch away from a fully-metallic chassis, possibly integrating the cellular antenna in the process.

The new models may be so thin that Apple is considering removing the 3.5mm headphone jack, which would limit people to using Bluetooth or Lightning connections for headphones and speakers.

Both the 7 and 7 Plus are expected to use even faster "A10" processors, but the 7 Plus could potentially sport 3 gigabytes of RAM -- one extra -- offering more than just a bigger screen size as an incentive to buy.

Perhaps the most radical claim is that Apple wants to ship the devices ahead of its usual September launch window. It's not clear how much earlier that might be, and September is still a possible date.

iPhone 6c





Apple is thought to be working on a 4-inch "budget" iPhone commonly dubbed the iPhone 6c, keeping that form factor alive for people who think even a 4.7-inch iPhone is too big. The product is expected to resemble the iPhone 5s in many respects -- including its cameras and colors -- but feature upgrades like an A9 processor, 2 gigabytes of RAM, Apple Pay, and a larger 1,642mAh battery.

It could arrive as soon as April, which would be consistent with rumors of a March press event where Apple will also highlight the second-generation Apple Watch.

Apple Watch 2





Speaking of which, news of Apple's next wearable has been oddly hushed. Beyond a March reveal, most rumors have suggested only minor improvements like a bigger battery and greater outdoor visibility. A more questionable claim suggested that the device could support "smart bands" much like the Pebble Time, improving functionality without having to buy an entirely new watch.

As for a release date, rumors have been even more vague, pointing to it shipping sometime in the first half of the year.

iPad Air 3





Surprisingly missing from the fall 2015 lineup, Apple is nevertheless thought to be developing a 9.7-inch iPad Air 3 that could ship as soon as March. It should share much in common with the Air 2, and it's not clear what -- if anything -- the tablet will adopt from the 12.9-inch iPad Pro, which has things like Apple Pencil and Smart Connector support, an A9X processor, and a USB 3.0-capable Lightning port.

One feature it's not expected to have is 3D Touch, since Apple's supply chain is allegedly having enough trouble producing compatible screens for the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus.

MacBook Air






Next June's Worldwide Developers Conference could see Apple deliver a true revamp of the MacBook Air line, which saw only minor enhancements in 2015. This might include scrapping the 11-inch model in favor of a 15-inch one, and as usual making the lineup as thin, light, and fast as it can. Many people have been hoping for a Retina display upgrade, but no word on that has emerged one way or another.

iOS, OS X, watchOS & tvOS



Very little has emerged about Apple's planned software updates. All four operating systems will likely get major upgrades in the fall, though iOS will presumably need to be updated earlier if new iPhones arrive before then. Any planned changes should be teased at June's WWDC.

Mac hardware





The iMac, MacBook, MacBook Air, and MacBook Pro should all see upgrades to Intel's latest processors, and in other areas where needed, such as support for standards like USB-C -- currently only on the 12-inch Retina MacBook.

One mystery is whether Apple will deign to update the Mac mini or the Mac Pro. Both machines were neglected in 2015, and the latter hasn't been updated since the first cylindrical model shipped two years ago.

Other hardware



There are plenty of other products Apple could potentially update. The Thunderbolt Display, for instance, continues to lack Retina resolution. The AirPort Express is missing 802.11ac, even though Apple's other Wi-Fi routers -- the AirPort Extreme and Time Capsule -- have had the tech for a while.

Apple will likely update the iPad mini and iPad Pro with faster processors come the fall, but not even the earliest of rumors has emerged about specifics.

The Apple TV could theoretically be upgraded with support for 4K video, giving it better odds against hardware from Roku and Amazon. Apple hasn't stuck to an annual update cycle for the set-top however, and the company would presumably want 4K content on the iTunes Store first.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 85
    appexappex Posts: 687member
    Apple should implement standard ports in all devices: Thunderbolt 3 and USB 3.1 Type C (reversible) Generation 2.
    edited January 2016
  • Reply 2 of 85
    jakebjakeb Posts: 557member
    Say what you want about better lightning audio quality, ditching the 3.5 headphone connector would be marketing suicide. People like their headphones and sometimes spend a lot of money on them. Very often from Beats. It will be seen as a negative, not a cool new feature. Has to be a false rumor. 
  • Reply 3 of 85
    eightzeroeightzero Posts: 2,292member
    jakeb said:
    Say what you want about better lightning audio quality, ditching the 3.5 headphone connector would be marketing suicide. People like their headphones and sometimes spend a lot of money on them. Very often from Beats. It will be seen as a negative, not a cool new feature. Has to be a false rumor. 
    Disagree. While it might not be in the iPhone 7 cycle, that 3.5" decades old tech needs to go. People said the same about USB and interchangeable storage cards (and before that ADB ports) yet Apple put USB-C only on the last macbook. The real questions are not if but when, and what kind of dongle thingy will ship with it for the legacy connectors.
    1983alexkhan2000awilliams87ericthehalfbee
  • Reply 4 of 85
    jakeb said:
    Say what you want about better lightning audio quality, ditching the 3.5 headphone connector would be marketing suicide. People like their headphones and sometimes spend a lot of money on them. Very often from Beats. It will be seen as a negative, not a cool new feature. Has to be a false rumor. 
    I think the "D" connector is a more likely bet for iPhone 7 (if they change the headphone jack at all) than lightning.  

    In any case, whatever they decide to move forward with, it's a fairly safe bet that everything you are hearing about the lightning headphone jack will NOT happen this year.  It's a wild rumour at best, and sites like this keep publishing about it mostly because it's so controversial it drives clicks, and not because it's actually likely to happen. 

    The biggest argument against it is that the iPhone (currently over 7mm thick), will likely take a couple of years to shave off the two millimetres necessary to get it down below 5mm when the headphone jack will finally not fit into the chassis.  Remember the iPod touch is 5mm thick and handles the headphone jack just fine.  

    There is no current crisis.  It's a problem "on the horizon" only.  
    edited January 2016 cornchip
  • Reply 5 of 85
    tallest skiltallest skil Posts: 43,399member
    I don’t know how I feel about this design, but it’s certainly interesting. Can’t stand the idea of not having a hardware button, and rounded screen corners is idiotic (never mind  perpetual bluetooth, camera, and orientation buttons to always be hitting accidentally). And don’t we have enough screen already?
  • Reply 6 of 85
    The only thing I want is a new iPad mini with pencil support (and force-touch if possible).  

    Based on the way Apple has been limping along lately, and the "beta-like" hardware updates we've seen this year (Apple TV 4 and Apple Watch), along with the fact that lots of stuff hasn't even been updated at all ... this is totally unlikely to happen until 2017 or even 2018.  

    It's getting to the point where they Apple is so far behind, they will have to pull out all the stops just to get a new iPad Air out this year.  
  • Reply 7 of 85
    entropysentropys Posts: 1,627member
    How about they upgrade the MBA with skylake, increased resolution and a standard 8 GB of RAM in the next two weeks? I will get three.

    Actually they really do need to release something this month to help remind everyone Apple exists while CES is on.
    edited January 2016
  • Reply 8 of 85
    Looks like the iMac design refresh wont be coming this year. That is kind of sad. Also, there were some rumors of a 8K iMac close to six months back.
    edited January 2016
  • Reply 9 of 85
    Let's get those mini pro upgrades going!
  • Reply 10 of 85
    bugsnwbugsnw Posts: 713member
    appex said:
    Apple should implement standard ports in all devices: Thunderbolt 3 and USB 3.1 Type C (reversible) Generation 2.
    Amen.

    Also, regarding OS X, please, please, please don't let Ive use the white crayon. If anyone enjoys reading 3 point gray text on a white background, please kill yourself.

    He's smart, but white is his achilles heel. Above all, I need to USE my devices and that means I need to be able to READ them. TEXT matters. Please use the space allotted and remember that we're all getting older.
    zeus423scottw2anantksundaramappexargonautdamn_its_hot
  • Reply 11 of 85
    tjwolftjwolf Posts: 264member
    "A more questionable claim suggested that the device could support"smart bands" - why is it questionable?  Doesn't the Apple Watch already have the requisite port?  I know of at least one company that's developed a battery band for the Apple Watch.  Surely that port was designed to carry more than just power?!
  • Reply 12 of 85
    Two wishes for me this year. (1) An Apple Watch that keeps a dimmed watch face on all of the time. Android Wear does this now and the newer Wear watches are OK at battery. (2) A true Netflix killer in opening up iTunes movie streaming. Netflix movies are all old, Apple could wipe them off the face of the earth with an all you can eat movie streaming package.
    anantksundaramargonaut
  • Reply 13 of 85
    mac_128mac_128 Posts: 3,400member
    jakeb said:
    Say what you want about better lightning audio quality, ditching the 3.5 headphone connector would be marketing suicide. People like their headphones and sometimes spend a lot of money on them. Very often from Beats. It will be seen as a negative, not a cool new feature. Has to be a false rumor. 
    I think the "D" connector is a more likely bet for iPhone 7 (if they change the headphone jack at all) than lightning.  

    In any case, whatever they decide to move forward with, it's a fairly safe bet that everything you are hearing about the lightning headphone jack will NOT happen this year.  It's a wild rumour at best, and sites like this keep publishing about it mostly because it's so controversial it drives clicks, and not because it's actually likely to happen. 

    The "D" shaped 3.5mm connector is the least likely. Do you recall the original iPhone required an adapter to attach an otherwise perfectly compatible headphone plug to it, just to accommodate the opening? Customers actively resisted buying such an unnecessary adapter. And a proprietary shape of the identical technology won't fly. Plus The size of the connector on the edge of the phone is the least of what Apple may hope to accomplish if there's any truth to this rumor. Removing the internal 3.5mm jack hardware will provide more substantial benifits than merely reducing the size of the depth of the phone, something I don't think Apple is actually ready to reduce beyond the current thickness of the 3.5mm jack. Regardless, if Apple turns on their usual marketing brilliance, customers are likely to accept (however grudgingly) that the move to Lightning is going to bring them higher quality audio, and fully interactive remote mechanisms, and other consumer benifits, over just changing the shape of the connector.

    i don't agree it's a wild rumor. If it's a rumor, then likely all the other rumors about HQ audio, are wild too. Add to that the increased capabilities of Lightning, and "pro" features like 4K video in the iPhones, as well as the proliferation of the use of the Lightning connector across all of Apple's product lines, and there's some reason to give this rumor credence. In addition, there's the ability to further lock people into their ecosystem, many of whom simply won't care, especially if Apple gives them a free set of Lightning earbuds, which the majority of their customers likely use of at all. Then there's the increased revenue from licensing the tech to other manufacturers, who until this becomes real, have no reason to develop lightning-based products. And then there's Apple's push toward wireless, which is becoming increasingly more popular among consumers. The reality is a large segment of Apple's installed customer base probably won't care if the 3.5mm jack is removed, since they don't even use it, and if they do its likely with Apple's own free earbuds, which will be replaced with Lightning versions with their next iPhone.
  • Reply 14 of 85
    mac_128 said:
    I think the "D" connector is a more likely bet for iPhone 7 (if they change the headphone jack at all) than lightning.  

    In any case, whatever they decide to move forward with, it's a fairly safe bet that everything you are hearing about the lightning headphone jack will NOT happen this year.  It's a wild rumour at best, and sites like this keep publishing about it mostly because it's so controversial it drives clicks, and not because it's actually likely to happen. 

    The "D" shaped 3.5mm connector is the least likely. Do you recall the original iPhone required an adapter to attach an otherwise perfectly compatible headphone plug to it, just to accommodate the opening? Customers actively resisted buying such an unnecessary adapter. And a proprietary shape of the identical technology won't fly. Plus The size of the connector on the edge of the phone is the least of what Apple may hope to accomplish if there's any truth to this rumor. Removing the internal 3.5mm jack hardware will provide more substantial benifits than merely reducing the size of the depth of the phone, something I don't think Apple is actually ready to reduce beyond the current thickness of the 3.5mm jack. Regardless, if Apple turns on their usual marketing brilliance, customers are likely to accept (however grudgingly) that the move to Lightning is going to bring them higher quality audio, and fully interactive remote mechanisms, and other consumer benifits, over just changing the shape of the connector.

    i don't agree it's a wild rumor. If it's a rumor, then likely all the other rumors about HQ audio, are wild too. Add to that the increased capabilities of Lightning, and "pro" features like 4K video in the iPhones, as well as the proliferation of the use of the Lightning connector across all of Apple's product lines, and there's some reason to give this rumor credence. In addition, there's the ability to further lock people into their ecosystem, many of whom simply won't care, especially if Apple gives them a free set of Lightning earbuds, which the majority of their customers likely use of at all. Then there's the increased revenue from licensing the tech to other manufacturers, who until this becomes real, have no reason to develop lightning-based products. And then there's Apple's push toward wireless, which is becoming increasingly more popular among consumers. The reality is a large segment of Apple's installed customer base probably won't care if the 3.5mm jack is removed, since they don't even use it, and if they do its likely with Apple's own free earbuds, which will be replaced with Lightning versions with their next iPhone.
    Changing to the lightning port for audio will also cause a lot of disruption and engender adapters etc., so your "pro" argument for the lightning connector is the same as your con" argument for the D connector.  The D connector however, is backwards compatible the "other way." In other words you can plug your D connector headphones into an "old" regular mini-phono connector.  

    Apple is behaving very weirdly lately and they were pretty inscrutable to begin with so who knows?  My point(s) were only that the necessity for a thinner connector won't be here for up to three years, D connector headphones are more compatible than lightning as well as backwards compatible with old devices, and the D connector would be a great transitional product for those three years we need to wait before the crisis is actually upon us.  
    edited January 2016
  • Reply 15 of 85

    Looks like the iMac design refresh wont be coming this year. That is kind of sad. Also, there were some rumors of a 8K iMac close to six months back.
    They've been refreshed more than most of Apples other products already, so I don't know why you would expect more at this point.  

    I think the elephant in the room is the Mac Pro.  If they don't update it sometime in 2016, it will be three years since the last refresh, which was kinda like the only refresh.  Despite all that bravado when they launched it about always keeping the Mac Pro in the lineup, I wouldn't be surprised if it's just dropped completely.  
  • Reply 16 of 85

    jakeb said:
    Say what you want about better lightning audio quality, ditching the 3.5 headphone connector would be marketing suicide. People like their headphones and sometimes spend a lot of money on them. Very often from Beats. It will be seen as a negative, not a cool new feature. Has to be a false rumor. 
    On the other hand, Beats is now Apple and if Apple changes to lightning, there will obviously be Beats headphones with lightning connectors on the first day. 
  • Reply 17 of 85
    mac_128mac_128 Posts: 3,400member
    Changing to the lightning port for audio will also cause a lot of disruption and engender adapters etc., so your "pro" argument for the lightning connector is the same as your con" argument for the D connector.  The D connector however, is backwards compatible the "other way" in other words you can plug your D connector headphones into an "old" regular mini-phono connector.  

    Apple is behaving very weirdly lately and they were pretty inscrutable to begin with so who knows?  My point(s) were only that the necessity for a thinner connector won't be here for up to three years, D connector headphones are more compatible than lightning as well as backwards compatible with old devices, and the D connector would be a great transitional product for those three years we need to wait before the crisis is actually upon us.  
    I thought it was obvious, while the "D" connector is clever in that Apple gives you a free one that can be used with not only Apple's proprietary adapter, as well as legacy equipment, any "pro" gear someone will want to plug into the iPhone will require an adapter to switch from legacy 1/4" or 1/8" round to 3.5mm "D". Granted this adapter will be cheaper than a Lightning to 3.5mm dongle with a DAC, the former looks more like an unnecessary money grab, offering no tangible improvements to the customer, and we already saw how that worked out with the original iPhone. No matter which method Apple chooses, the customer has to buy an adapter to use legacy equipment with the iPhone.

    i agree the necessity for the elimination of the 3.5mm jack because thickness of the iPhone wont allow for the edge opening, is still a few years away. However, as Apple goes thinner, and once they've reached the limitations of what they can miniaturize, the internal components have to expand outwardly, to say nothing of battery capacity. Small though it is, the volume of the 3.5mm internal hardware takes up a significant amount of internal space (they already moved it from the top to the bottom for similar reasons). Removing it would free space for internal expansion as the the design gets thinner, as well as new components like Taptic engines, and accommodating larger power draws like always listening Siri. 

    So to my point, to be more clear, is 1) that Apple has other reasons for eliminating the single function audio jack than the size of the edge opening, and 2) that there are more perceived benifits to the consumer for switching to lightning, especially when an adapter is required either way for Legacy equipment. The universal compatibility of the "D" connector is only beneficial if a person is buying all of their audio gear for the first time with the iPhone 7, otherwise, they're going to need a proprietary adapter for everything but newly purchased equipment (and Apple's free earbuds), and considering my speculation about Apple's motives, they're not likely to give the adapter away for free, just like they didn't with the original iPhone. Moreover, if the transition is at least 3 years away, people are going to be loaded up with Apple proprietary gear they won't be able to use with the new Apple products without yet another adapter when they finally do move to Lightning. So best not to introduce an intermediary standard that will offer no benifits at all to the customer.
    edited January 2016
  • Reply 18 of 85
    foggyhillfoggyhill Posts: 4,767member
    No they're not OK in t
    Two wishes for me this year. (1) An Apple Watch that keeps a dimmed watch face on all of the time. Android Wear does this now and the newer Wear watches are OK at battery. (2) A true Netflix killer in opening up iTunes movie streaming. Netflix movies are all old, Apple could wipe them off the face of the earth with an all you can eat movie streaming package.
    his mode IMPOSSIBLE.

    They should give people the choice of draining their battery on occasions were they want to show off their clock face, say going out, but otherwise, keep it off.
  • Reply 19 of 85
    foggyhill said:
    No they're not OK in t
    Two wishes for me this year. (1) An Apple Watch that keeps a dimmed watch face on all of the time. Android Wear does this now and the newer Wear watches are OK at battery. (2) A true Netflix killer in opening up iTunes movie streaming. Netflix movies are all old, Apple could wipe them off the face of the earth with an all you can eat movie streaming package.
    his mode IMPOSSIBLE.

    They should give people the choice of draining their battery on occasions were they want to show off their clock face, say going out, but otherwise, keep it off.
    I have the Huawei Android Wear and I can get a full day out of it with the ambient mode on when I use it. But I will take the option you suggested in a heart beat. Anything beats having to flick my wrist when I am in a boring meeting and need to see the time...  :)
  • Reply 20 of 85
    josujosu Posts: 217member
    My interest is in the new iPad Air, a little big lighter (if possible) and the A9X is enough for me. My 2011 iPad 2 is long in the tooth right now, that´s the reason I think the Air 3 can spark the renovation cycle that can drive iPad sales up again. Seriously, I did´t care on upgrading to iOS 9 with it. I will wait till I got my new one to erase it and upgrade it to the latest iOS available before giving it a friend of mine, besides that it feels heavy after the years, wrist aging side effect. OK, If Apple make the new Apple Watch independent from the iPhone and capable of been paired to an iPod Touch, iPad or Mac I would be interested too. I am nearly the last man on earth that still don´t use a cell phone, smart or dumb. But I am one of those that can´t leave without a watch in my wrist. I tried but give up after two months.
    edited January 2016
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