Opinion: What might we expect from Apple in 2014?

Image: wallsfeed.com

Image: wallsfeed.com

Tech journalists don’t often have to battle our way across hostile terrain in sub-zero temperatures, fight crocodiles with our bare hands, or abseil from helicopters to rescue hostages (though that remains my cover story for the time I broke my elbow by tripping up in an airport).

We do, however, occasionally do something almost as dangerous: make predictions about the tech future, knowing full well that our words remain forever archived on the web for people to dust off a year from now and gleefully point out just how wrong we were.

This is never more risky than in the case of Apple, a company notoriously secretive about its activities, and where there are way more false rumors than reliable ones. But hey, what’s life without a little adventure? So here are my predictions on what I think we can expect from Apple next year … 

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Concept image: Nikola Cirkovic

Concept image: Nikola Cirkovic

A larger-screened iPhone

Likelihood? 90%

While Steve Jobs was adamant that a 3.5-inch screen was the perfect size from a usability perspective, and that no-one would buy a phone “so big you can’t get your hand round it,” let’s also not forget that he was equally strong in his view that 10 inches was the right size for a tablet. Other manufacturers have proven the first point wrong, and Apple itself sells more iPad Minis than full-size iPads (albeit it at 7.9 inches rather than 7).

Apple has so far remained conservative, opting for a modest boost from 3.5 inches to 4 inches from the iPhone 4S to iPhone 5, and sticking to the same size in the 5c and 5s. But times have changed, and all the other leading smartphones have larger screens. HTC One and Moto X: 4.7 inches. Nexus 5: 4.95 inches. Samsung S4: 5 inches. LG G2: 5.2 inches. And that’s before we even get started on phablets.

To be sure, Apple is perfectly capable of defying the rest of the tech industry and doing its own thing if it believes it knows better. It’s perfectly possible that Apple could stick to its 4-inch guns. But the iPad Mini is (very profitable) proof that the company is also not above revising its views in response to market trends. 2014 is the year when I expect Apple to finally give in and opt for a larger display.

Ok, probably not quite this big (image: dowgtownmedia.com)

Ok, probably not quite this big (image: dowgtownmedia.com)

Apple is rumored to have tested a wide range of sizes from 4.8 inches to 6 inches. Those rumors are likely true: Apple tests a whole bunch of things, most of which it then rejects. Bloomberg got more specific last month, suggesting that the company is focusing on two models, with 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch displays, and reporting that both would be released.

Two different sizes of iPhone is not impossible. Couple it to a larger iPad (see below) and Apple would have iOS devices at 4.7-, 5.5-, 8-, 10- and 12.9-inches, which it could be argued covers all the bases and makes it far less likely for an iOS user to jump ship to Android. Apple has also demonstrated it doesn’t mind having two different current iPhones, in addition to legacy ones, but those of course have identical screens.

I’m personally a little skeptical of the two-size theory. Apple favors simplicity wherever possible, and with the 5s and 5c likely remaining on sale as legacy handsets, that would give three different iPhone screen sizes. I think that’s too messy.

I also expect Apple to remain conservative, so I’m not expecting to see a phablet with an Apple logo on it. My money is on an iPhone 6 with a screen size in  the 4.7 to 5-inch range. Curved screen? Possibly, but concave rather than the silly convex concepts that have done the rounds.


A larger iPad

Likelihood? 75%

The rumors may have begun with a dumb name, but given the persistence of the stories from a range of different sources, and our own poll suggesting strong demand for a larger version, I’d say this seems more likely than not.

Of the various different sizes suggested, 12.9 inches has been by far the most consistent. Three sizes pretty evenly spaced at 8-, 10- and (almost) 13-inches feels like a good range to me. Why do I say yes to three iPad sizes and no to three iPhone sizes? Simply because a 3-inch size difference is a meaningful one, each size appealing to a different type of customer.

I’m still saying a definite no to the ‘Maxi’ name, however! A more plausible suggested name has been the iPad Pro, and this has led to suggestions in some quarters that the 12.9-inch iPad might be some kind of hybrid device, running both iOS and OS X.

While I’ve argued that the two platforms are likely to increasingly borrow from each other, and grow closer over time, I don’t see a dual-boot device coming along anytime soon, and I certainly don’t expect that kind of radical functionality to appear on an iPad ahead of a Mac.

It’s also been suggested that a larger iPad would be made available first to the education market, with textbooks in mind. I do think Apple cares deeply about the education market, and very likely sees it as a key target, but the idea that it would not allow consumers and businesses to buy it at launch just holds no water for me.

Finally, it’s been reported that the 12.9-inch iPad is already in production and will be released early next year. I don’t buy that: I’d have expected to see a lot more evidence of its existence were that the case. I do expect it to be launched, I do expect the screen size to be 12.9 inches but I don’t expect to see it launched until October.

Image: AllThingsD

Image: AllThingsD

Thunderbolt 4K display

Likelihood? 90%

I wrote a whole piece on this recently, so won’t repeat it, but the TL;DR version is that it’s on the way, and Apple is simply waiting until it can produce something of the right quality at the right price.

Right now, we have a completely split market: cheap-and-cheerful 4K TVs (that can act as monitors) for a few hundred bucks, and high-end monitors (which we love) in the $5000 range. If Apple had intended to enter the market at the $5k level, it would have launched it with the Mac Pro. Since it didn’t, we can be fairly sure it’s waiting for costs to fall to a level that can be sensibly pitched to a larger market than AV professionals.

It will be a while before a high-quality 4K panel reaches the $999 price of the existing Thunderbolt Display, but something in the $1500-2000 range ought to be possible by the end of the year. I’m expecting to see it launched alongside next year’s MacBooks.


Apple 4K Television

Likelihood: 50%

So now we leave the more comfortable territory of incremental change to the rather stormier waters of attempting to predict Apple’s plans for completely new product categories …

I am at least on pretty safe ground in predicting that Apple will launch something completely new next year. Tim Cook is on record as saying that Apple has ‘big plans’ for 2014:

We have a lot to look forward to in 2014, including some big plans that we think customers are going to love.

No upgrade to an existing product would justify that description.

Apple has already done a huge amount of work into turning its Apple TV box – the product that Steve Jobs described as “a hobby” – into an increasingly sophisticated offering. Again, I won’t repeat what Jordan covered in his comprehensive look behind the scenes at Apple TV development, but the TL;DR version there is that Apple has been busily signing content deals and looks close to offering an Apple TV SDK that would really open up what can be offered on the platform.

If Apple does indeed launch its own 4K monitor, as I fully expect, then it’s a pretty small step to combine that with the functionality of the existing Apple TV box to create an Apple Television. From that perspective, you might think it’s a no-brainer. Perhaps even just launch the one product: the Apple Thunderbolt 4K Television.

But Apple took its time moving from computers to mobile devices, and the move into the living-room would be at least as big a leap. So far, it shows all the signs of being prepared to take all the time it needs to get it right. So yes, I’m pretty confident we’re going to see an Apple Television at some stage, but I’m less confident it will launch next year.

There has been a lot of speculation about the user-interface, with both Siri and gestures getting some chatter (and some sillier suggestions, of course). While I’m personally a big fan of Siri, my enthusiasm isn’t universally shared, to put it mildly – suggesting it would be a brave move on Apple’s part to make voice the primary interface. My guess is that Siri will be supported, but – as with your iPhone – you won’t have to use it if you don’t want to.


Gestures have gotten a better press. Simply pointing to on-screen icons would make for a very slick user experience.

But more important than any of this, in my view, is intelligence. We shouldn’t need to control the television manually to too great an extent as it should know what we like to watch and proactively offer those things to us. If it knows your favorite program is Game of Thrones, then it should of course record it for you but also immediately offer to play the latest episode when you sit down in front of the TV.

If three people are in front of the television, it should know all the things each of them watch and offer those things that all three like. That’s my idea of a radical new user-interface, and that’s exactly the kind of thinking I expect from Apple. At the same time, it’s not that hard to do. I don’t own a TV personally, getting my TV fix from Netflix, and it’s scarily good at suggesting things I might like.

If all we have to do most of the time is say yes or no to a suggestion, or point to one of the six or seven suggestions displayed on the screen, either voice or gestures would do the job well. And if Apple offers that kind of functionality wrapped up in a gorgeous case, it’s going to be a pretty irresistible product.

Update: downgraded from 70 to 50 percent after my US colleagues told me how poor US download speeds are

Concept image: Esben Oxholm

Concept image: Esben Oxholm


Likelihood: 90%

The evidence for Apple working on a product commonly dubbed the iWatch seems compelling. Cook himself wears a Nike fuelband, sits on the Nike board and has expressed enthusiasm (for Tim Cook values of enthusiasm) for the smartwatch concept.

I think the wrist is interesting. It is somewhat natural. I think for something to work [on the wrist], you have to convince people why it is worth wearing them. The sensor field is going to explode.

We’ve also seen evidence for the iWatch in Apple’s hiring. As long ago as February, the company was said to have a team of over 100 product designers working on a ‘wristwatch-like device,’ in August hired a key Nike Fuelband developer Jay Blahnik, adding top Nike design director Ben Shaffer to the team a month later.

The Nike links give the biggest clues to the likely focus of the iWatch: sensor technology. Many existing smartwatches are really not all that smart, essentially acting as little more than a second screen for a smartphone. Couple the fitness focus to the M7 chip found in the iPhone 5s, and I’d say it’s a safe bet that the iWatch will be bristling with sensors.

Calorie-counting will be only the start. That M7 chip looks to be a pretty clever beast, able to use motion patterns and speeds to determine whether you are walking, cycling, driving or eating, for example. Couple that to a built-in heart monitor and perhaps one or two other health sensors and you have a setup for providing a much more holistic view of your health than just how many steps you walked that day.

As someone who looks at today’s smartwatches as a solution in search of a problem, Apple will know it’s cracked it if it manages to sell me one.

Samsung Galaxy Gear and Pebble Smart Watch

Samsung Galaxy Gear and Pebble Smart Watch

Apple, of course, cares as much about form as function. Existing smartwatches are clunky. I’ll go further: they’re mostly downright ugly. Pebble tried harder than Samsung (who basically bolted a few components together and called it a product), but even the Pebble doesn’t look anywhere close to a candidate for wearing an Apple logo.

There’s been no shortage of iWatch concepts doing the rounds, from the gorgeous to the stupid. Apple is pretty conservative in its designs, so I don’t think we’re going to be blown away by anything radical in terms of the looks, but I do think a lot of people who would never dream of wearing any of today’s smartwatches are going to think “Ok, that I’ll wear.”


More interesting & exciting Apple Stores

Likelihood: 90%

I have to confess I try to avoid Apple Stores. The London ones at least are over-crowded, under-staffed and feel just a little too frantic for my tastes. I buy almost all my Apple gear online. But I’m guessing the developments we’re going to see next year may tempt me back inside the glass temples.

First, there’s a new sheriff in town. Angela Ahrendts had big ideas about the future of retail stores when she was CEO of Burberry, and it seems pretty clear that Tim Cook is going to give her free reign to put her ideas into action at Apple. If you didn’t watch this video when we first posted it, do so now – it’s a must-watch in my view.

Apple has of course been busy putting iBeacons into its stores. Bring together all that tech, couple it to the purchase data Apple has associated with our Apple IDs and visiting an Apple Store could be a radically different experience. Apple will need to balance privacy concerns against functionality, but here’s a little taster of the kind of experience that could be possible …

Walk into the store and see a personalised welcome message on your iPhone. Based on what you already own, and perhaps even influenced by the interests revealed by the apps you’ve purchased, you’re asked if you want to see a new product that might interest you. You’re shown a photo and a brief description.

You hit Yes, and you are guided through the store to the product in question. Once you’ve seen it, your phone offers to play a video showing you how it works. Perhaps that video plays on your phone, or maybe on a screen in the product area.

You have some questions the app can’t answer, so it sends a member of staff to you. The assistant already knows your name and the product you’re interested in. Your questions answered, you say yes to buying it. By the time you’ve approved the purchase with your fingerprint on your iPhone 5s, the companion app for the gadget is already automatically downloading.

Let me know your views in the comments, and happy new year!

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  1. This year will definitely be very exciting.

  2. If you are only 50% correct I will be happy!

  3. Martin He (@zichenghe) - 9 years ago

    How about iBeacon? I think in-door navigation will be a very future for Apple.

  4. Michael Scharf - 9 years ago

    I would disagree with some of your predictions…

    Chance of an iWatch – 20%, Chance of wearable devices – 90%+ I don’t think that Apple will come out with a watch, but if they did it would be part of a broader line of wearable devices.

    Chance of an Apple Television set – 10% The key issues here are negotiation with the content providers and the cable / satellite companies. IF Apple started two years ago, it will be another 2 years before they get this done. Cord cutting is driving the entrenched interests crazy, they won’t give up control, yet, even if it means more piracy and more fragmentation of options for consumers (fragmentation leading to eventually less control for existing parties).

    What would I like to see… Wearables, iPods, and some existing 3rd party devices become the core of an Apple Health and Fitness initiative. Healthcare is a constant topic today and Apple could provide some interesting direction. Second initiative, Apple TV, Nest, and some other 3rd party items become the core of an Apple Home initiative.

    Both initiatives would push interoperability and expansion of the Apple ecosystem. This would lead to more sales in each category, bolstered by consumer confidence in Apple support.

    Chances of this happening, less than 20%

  5. couchweight - 9 years ago

    I never understood the need to predict what will happen in the coming year. It has absolutely no bearing on anything. Who will remember a year from now, that you were wrong about something, let alone right.

    • Ben Lovejoy - 9 years ago

      More people remember when you were wrong than when you were right … :-)

      • Tallest Skil - 9 years ago

        Then why are any analysts still employed?

      • Air Burt - 9 years ago

        I’ll enjoy you eating your words when the iPhone’s screen size doesn’t change. Apple just won’t do it.

  6. Carmen O'Harlem - 9 years ago

    7.9″ iPad Mini its not a 7″ tablet… calling it 8″ will be much closer to the trough if going to round numbers :)

  7. Turmunkh Nergui - 9 years ago

    Happy New Year :)

  8. willo (@mozfart) - 9 years ago

    I´ll take it further:
    Complete redo of MacBook Air, now even thinner, stronger and with retina display.
    Apple 5K display 5120×2880, as well as new iMac with 5120×2880 display.
    Wireless charging of mouse,keyboard and Apple TV in proximity of iMac.
    iPad Pro 5K display similar design as iPad Air, just bigger.
    Apple television is a given, will feature 4K display 3840×1920. Upgradeable through setupbox, Controlled by Siri and Kinect tech.
    iBeacon support payments through PassBook.
    Bracelet that monitors heartrate, allows simple music control and siri queries.
    And at least one major acquisition, much bigger than previous acquisitions.
    TouchID on MacBook Air,iMac and iPads.

    • o0smoothies0o - 9 years ago

      Siri and Kinect are no where near accurate enough for controlling a TV or anything yet. I won’t get into Kinect and xbox one as it’s off topic but it is sad really (don’t talk about xbox around xbox one with Kinect on, lol).

      Moreover those will never be something you want to control your TV with for the most part. Yeah it’s fun to imagine years from now when it will be highly accurate, extremely fast and fluid, but that isn’t anywhere close to happening anytime soon. Sure you want to be able to simply wave your hand or say ‘turn off’, but that’s the future still, despite it being available now.

      • Daniel Dean - 9 years ago

        I understand that Kinect and Siri have some usability issues but Siri is getting better with each generation and kinect+apple engineers will get better too. Also consider that Apple has been working on this interface for years now, I think it will be very usable by the time it’s released.

    • Tallest Skil - 9 years ago

      >>iPad Pro 5K display

      Completely useless.

      >>Apple television is a given

      Utter drivel.

      >>Controlled by Siri and Kinect tech.

      And totally unusable.

      • rettun1 - 9 years ago

        I’ve been on this site for a few years, and you used to give pretty insightful comments.

      • Tallest Skil - 9 years ago

        It helps when the quality of stuff to which you can reply remains, you know, acceptable.

        “More pixels because pixels” is brain dead. Apple’s not making a television, either. Stupid screen, smart box. People don’t buy a new TV every two or three years; they buy one every decade. Let us pick the panel quality, sell us the box. Apple’s not stupid. At least, not completely.

  9. Greg Kaplan (@kaplag) - 9 years ago

    I don’t know why Apple would make more than one larger iPhone. Many people are really happy with the current size. So you have 4″ and a bigger one for those who want it. I’d wager the important specs would be configurable to be about the same for both sizes, just like the iPads. The real iPhone will be the smaller one. That is what drives Apple to better itself. Can we make it better and even smaller? Making things bigger is easy, the larger one would just have longer battery life and maybe a larger configurable storage option.

    What would really impress me is if they came out with a new 3.4″ device also. Man it would be slick. Fit in my pocket so nice, fit in my hand so nice. It would be an engineering marvel and a big F you to all the android manufactures because only Apple could pull it off. But maybe I’m the only one who wants it.

  10. John Prince (@jlprince4) - 9 years ago

    “let’s also not forget that he was equally strong in his view that 7 inches was too small for a tablet.”

    And they still do feel this way. The iPad mini is an 8 inch tablet. If it were 7 inches, the iPad version of iOS would be too small and it would have to run the iPhone version (and this is what Steve was talking about when he mentioned needing sandpaper for your fingertips).

    Also, you rounded 9.7 up to 10 but 7.9 down to 7??

    • Ben Lovejoy - 9 years ago

      Actually, what he said was that 10 inches was the right size and anything smaller wouldn’t work.

      But fair point on the rounding, so I’ve amended.

      • John Prince (@jlprince4) - 9 years ago

        Oh yes, that’s true! It just bugs me when people say it’s 7 inches and therefore act like it’s a direct competitor to the Nexus/Kindle (and then bash it for being so expensive), when they’re actually two completely different classes of device in my opinion.

  11. uniszuurmond - 9 years ago

    I agree mostly, but not with the 12.9″ iPad. I may be wrong, but a tablet THAT big is just too uncomfortable as a tablet. However, it might be the perfect display size for a new category notebook, which I think will be the all new MacBook Air. It will be more like the Google Chromebooks. Rather than running OSX, it will run iOS, and it will have limited ports, but be incredibly thin, light and have unbelievable battery life. Redefining the notebook, yet again. It will may also explain why Apple made the iWork Suite free.

    So, those 12.9″ displays seen in the wild, which everyone thinks will be a bigger iPad, might just become the display of the all new MacBook Air.

    • Tallest Skil - 9 years ago

      Nope. That tablet and the 15” to follow are what will make laptops obsolete by 2020.

      • uniszuurmond - 9 years ago

        As much as I’d like to believe that, it’s just not practical.

        1. Consider what you do on your notebook. I do design where I need pixel pointing. Not even the trackpad is good enough, I use a mouse to avoid zooming. I also do a lot of coding and document writing. I really need my keyboard. The lack of a forward delete is already slowing me down, let alone doing it on a touch device.

        2. The tablet is a great consumption and light work device. It works because it’s small enough to fit in anywhere, and to use it on the couch and in bed.

        Making a 12.9″ tablet will take away the portability and ease of use, but not give the practicality of the notebook. It’ll try to be best of both but fail on both accounts. Even if the keyboard was a wireless one, it would still be uncomfortable as a tablet.

        Don’t get me wrong, I love change and a hard push into a new direction, but only if it is 100% practical and fits the end user’s needs in such a way that it improves their lives, not make it more cumbersome.

      • Apple slimmed-down the thinness and lightened the weight of the 9.7″ iPad Air because users were saying the full-sized iPads before it were heavy / uncomfortable to hold. How the hell do you expect them to be comfortable holding 13″ & 15″ tablets?

      • Tallest Skil - 9 years ago

        Well, since users weren’t saying that, I figure they’ll do just fine with tablets of that size.

  12. Inaba-kun (@Inaba_kun) - 9 years ago

    Apple certainly played it safe in 2013, so I hope this article is right. I fear the Smart TV ship has already sailed though, – you can buy Samsung smart TVs with a huge app line-up (vastly more than the ATV offers, especially outside of America) for not a lot of money now. Samsung also have high end covered with gorgeous 4K displays at up to 85″.

    • PMZanetti - 9 years ago

      What vast app lineup are you referring to? From my observation, the average SmartTV (since there are more than just Samsung on the market) have a handful of basic apps, that get you things like Netflix, Hulu, and YouTube. This does not hold a candle to the Apple TV experience. AppleTV now has a wide range of content Apps, along with iCloud, iTunes, and AirPlay. The last 3 are irreplaceable and not found on anything outside of AppleTV.

      Just like Android devices, SmartApps on SmartTVs are just another way of getting certain things into the hands of people who don’t know any better. You may get a tiny percentage of people who buy a new TV that never used Netflix before to sign up for it…but its never going to be subscription driver. Never.

      There really is no argument on this subject. While it may be “good enough” for some people, the SmartApp/SmartTV package is far from the “good” experience that AppleTV connected to any HDTV set.

      • Inaba-kun (@Inaba_kun) - 9 years ago

        I was referring to non US users. Where I live in the UK, for example, the Apple TV has just one UK streaming service – Netflix. Here Netflix is a fairly minor player.

        The biggest streaming services here are BBC iPlayer (which is the biggest by a very long way), Amazon LoveFilm, 4OD, ITV Player, and Demand 5. None of those are on the Apple TV, making the box next to useless here. Contrast that to a Samsung Smart TV in the UK, and it has virtually every UK streaming service, including all the major ones.

        As for iCloud and the rest, it’s horses for courses. I’d never use any of those features personally, and as I only own a very small amount of iTunes video content, and never listen to music at home (and rarely away from home) I have no need for iTunes Match on my TV either. Your experience may, of course, differ.

  13. PMZanetti - 9 years ago

    I’ve yet to see any significant, real numbers to show that “times have changed” when it comes to over-sized phones.

    • Greg Kaplan (@kaplag) - 9 years ago

      I still think other companies just can’t make their phone any smaller and compete with Apple on specs and price. But I do see the appeal that larger devices might have for some people and I think there isn’t much of a reason to keep one screen size anymore. As long as Apple uses the smallest device as the flagship and not gimp it I’m happy. It seems like Apple’s strategy is that the smallest device drives the tech for the larger ones.

    • Oflife (@oflife) - 9 years ago

      40m sales of just Galaxy Note 1 & 2. 10m of Note 3 in very little time. Even the Note 1 that I had (now have a 3 & 8) blows the iPhone 5s out of the water in all aspects. One little hyped but brilliant feature of Note 3 is that a simple right to left and back to the right swype across the screen will shrink the whole UX (yup, everything) to approx 4″ screen size equivalent, making one handed operation easy. Has to be seen.

      Am brand neutral (my main toy is a top spec MB Pro 15″) but it’s important to know the truth and what is out there threatening Apple.

      Times change.

      • zBrain (@joeregular) - 9 years ago

        my observations here regarding larger screened smart phones.

        people want to buy a new phone. they go and shop around. they would love to have an iPhone. they see the price. they are shown a samsung phone. it has “almost” the same price. they are shown the “features” (that imo nothing that is really used in the real world). the sellers point out that it has a bigger screen. heck, i would love to hear from say, basketball players that carry around iPhones, what they think about the screen.

        unfortunately some people think, bigger is better, add the “almost” same price and wow those “features”.

        and then there are some people, that are not really tech savvy enough to make an intelligent choice.

        i have an android phone (one of the latest ones that came out around october(?)). and naturally i have an iPhone.

        i do not have the urge to know how to “get to know” the android phone (if there is one) (eg. syncing contacts, loading music, adding widgets…). i just use it to call.

        oth, my iPhone does everything.

    • montefuego - 9 years ago

      I bought the iPhone 5S, but I would GREATLY prefer a larger screen. One of the things that even Steve Jobs may not have predicted is how much we communicate by text rather than calling. For web browsing and text, bigger is better. I will be the first in line when a bigger screen iPhone comes out.

  14. Greg Kaplan (@kaplag) - 9 years ago

    I want a lot to happen with software too. Osx is looking like it needs a small redesign just to match iOS a little better. I don’t want transparent window toolbars like windows vista but like cleaner toolbar icons would do nicely.

    I’d love to see siri for osx but I’d like to do things from the desktop through type alone. Like type in “remind me to pick up milk when I leave the office” in something like spotlight and it will create the reminder without opening the app and will synch to your phone.

    I’d love for maps to finally have public transit and maybe become useful. Or for Apple to loosen up and let 3rd party apps be set as a default.

    one of the more recent rumours about siri being able to tag and find photos would be amazing. There have been so many times I want to show someone a photo but don’t feel like digging for it. “Show me photos from my trip to cali”, “show me photos from last month” or how about the faces feature making over iOS “bring up pictures of my…” son, mother, husband, girlfriend, etc…. that would be slick.

  15. Aria Moor (@MoorAria) - 9 years ago

    On the OS side, I’m sure John Ives is going to flatten OSX UI. While I’m not looking forward to the day this happens, I think its inevitable. Don’t get me wrong, I love thin fonts and minimal design just like the next design savvy guy, but this just was a poor implementation. We need buttons, we need a hint of a shadow, we need the things that make the UI easer to digest for our brain. I don’t want to stop and think if a text is really an actionable item or just information, I would rather have a hint that its a button that makes something happen.

    Please John if you are reading this, reconsider. Please Please just focus on what you do best, Hardware industrial design. Leave the UI to someone that has more experience. Both my kids (both under 5) stopped using their iPad b/c the UI just falls flat. Before IOS7, I had to pull them off of it. And to test this theory, my wife replaced their iPad with her old one that still had IOS6. All was back to normal. True story.

    • o0smoothies0o - 9 years ago

      Buttons are useless clutter on devices where screen real-estate is of utmost importance. If your brain can’t descern where to touch then I don’t know what to say. Moreover, the brain gains a memory of what is where and buttons are even more useless then. Removing those hideous useless buttons was one of the best design changes iOS 7 brought about. Thank god Ive was brought into human interface to transform iOS into something the is so much more practical and beautiful.

      P.S. There is an option in accessibility to add buttons in iOS 7.1 beta 2 I believe, so you’ll likely get that option in iOS 7.1.

    • uniszuurmond - 9 years ago

      Aria, I cannot agree more with you. Flat is different and the way forward, but “almost flat” is better. In fact, just look at the hint of a shadow on the toggle buttons in iOS7 and you have proof that there is still a need for it. One of the biggest issues is not being able to differentiate between a label and an action, I’ve found this in my own User Experience testing. The issue is compounded by iOS7 by using the app color as both links and labels, so people can’t always rely on the traditional blue text being clickable. This is not about what it looks like, it’s about how it works, in Steve’s own words. And it needs just a kittle fine tuning to get it right, to get form and function in harmony again.

      Personally, I still can’t get used to some of the really hideous icons. It still does’t make sense that Game Center uses skeuomorphic bubbles, for example. Or that settings looks like a bicycle’s peddle cog. I hope sone of this will be fixed before we see the flat OSX.

  16. Jon Purcell - 9 years ago

    Solid article… The most exciting part is the retail experience IMO. I will say that one of the things that has made Apple so successful is the lack of options. There are studies out there that suggest that it’s actually easier to sell a product when the consumer doesn’t have to make more than a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ decision. I think it could hurt Apple in the long run should they keep expanding their product lines (i.e. – 3 iPad sizes, etc). That won’t come into play in 2014, but I don’t want to see Apple dilute themselves too much.

  17. Richard Getz (@RichGetz) - 9 years ago

    Having apps on the ATV will be huge. If you can’t contract with providers directly, let them rent/sell content through the ATV. Money parses out the same probably, but the control stays in their camp. That with the ability for games and other apps, Apple will own the living room.

    An TV by Apple will have to be stunning, and have some of the most imaginative UI. I think a remote with the Touch ID would get you to your favorite content easily. The remote can change icons according to what you use/setup. The remote can tell you when your shows are coming on, what is recorded, etc. If you are watching a program, the wife can Touch ID into the remote and view what is on, record, etc. without interfering with what is on the screen. When kids Touch ID into the remote, certain channels/games/websites won’t be available. Siri if I don’t have to touch activate would be nice also.

    Big fan of a larger iPad, never been a fan of a larger iPhone. For those who don’t want to purchase two different devices or carry two around, that makes sense, but I think those are the exceptions, not the rule.

    4k monitor is inevitable. I’m thinking Tim is waiting to buy into the market to sure up supply.

    iWatch would be awesome when not just an extension of your iPhone. I agree having a heart monitor would be awesome, and the device can auto dial 911 when needed. I have been looking for a heart rate monitor watch for my parents and iWatch would fit the ecosystem.

    I am excited about the new retail stores also : )

  18. I’ve been using the Pebble and the Nike Fuelband, and, while I like the smartwatch idea, in order for it to be great will be through the use of wireless charging. This my own opinion, but I dont think people can get behind plugging their watch in at night. So, iWatch, wireless charging pad (maybe a flexible pad for traveling) and iPhone 6, wireless charging and a larger screen (4.75-5″). Additionally, all trackpads (on MBP/MPA and the Magic Trackpad) will incorporate TouchID. Those are some of my predictions for 2014. Happy New Year, everyone!

    • In order for smartwatches to be great, they’ll need to be useful independent of having an smartphone. Right now if I buy an iPad, I don’t need to buy an iPhone for it to be useful, and vice versa. If Apple wants the smartwatch (or whatever wearable they introduce) to take off, it’ll have to work and be useful on its own. If one requires an iPhone (key word being require) to use it, it’s fail.

      • Gaurav (@HorizonZwinger) - 9 years ago

        Thats not even something apple will consider..the I watch will be an independent platform perfectly able to exist and provide value outside of the apple eco-system. Apple would be dumb to limit the market size to iphone/ipad user base..I’ll like to see I-beacon applied to the iwatch thats something that could be of aid with indoor navigation and retail shopping..

  19. madman8 - 9 years ago

    I’m sorry, I would invert your predictions. I think the TV and Watch are far more likely than multi sized phones and iPads. Look, in a year of “new innovations” why clutter it with different form facts on existing tech? They want people to buy new stuff, you give them too many New things and they will end up with a bigger iPhone and maybe a bigger iPad, but they certainly will not be buying a “iPad pro” and Giant iPhone, a iwatch, a 4k cinema display, an iTV, and a retina macbook… its too much product. Apple doesn’t do that. They give you upgrades of products you have and occasionally mistily you with something new that you add/adopt to your life. Not an opportunity to refinance your home and take a second mortgage just to complete your Apple Ecosystem.

    Besides, imagine the apple store. Picture the one you go to. Now picture it with 4 different sized iPhones in 10 different colors in 4 different capacities (for 8 different carriers) & 3 different sizes of iPads, in 3 different colors, in 4 different capacities, in 3 different resolutions, 3 different size TV’s in 3 different colors, & 2 different cinema display models with 2 different resolutions, 6 different iPod colors, with 2 different sizes, ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh it’d be like F******* costco or SamsClub! Jesus!

  20. I’m actually hoping for better iOS. More stable, specially for iPad. More refined UI where buttons feels like buttons and not text. Slightly more colorful, better notification management, etc.

    • o0smoothies0o - 9 years ago

      Buttons to me are useless, I’m so with them on that. Simply clutter the screen with useless information. Lack of clutter on screen sizes other than phablets is one of the most important things they need to focus on.

  21. Manu Marea - 9 years ago

    What about new Mac Mini with Tube design?

  22. o0smoothies0o - 9 years ago

    I’m about 99.9% sure Apple will have at least 1 new iPhone screen size, but 100% sure there will be 2 iPhone 6, and one of those will be 4″ and the other will be whatever size Apple chose to be right for the next higher size. Two different iPhone 6, one with 4″ and one with 4.7-5″, but both will have identical internals just as the iPad Mini with retina and iPad Air have. I assure you they will keep 4″ screen size forever, they wouldn’t dream of simply throwing out the size that is really the most practical phone size (caveat being if they reduced bezels to zero, then maybe 4.2 or so).

    They are well aware of the fact that some people want a normal sized phone you can easily fit in any pocket, and some want a slightly larger phone which has a larger screen size making viewing pleasure a little better. They will not leave 4″ though. I fully expect there to be a 4″ iPhone X.

    • rettun1 - 9 years ago

      Some people think that the 5c will be the smaller phone of the two, but i hope you’re right. I think the biggest i’d like would be 4.5-4.7 inches, but apple might be able to persuade me to go bigger

  23. Eh, fun to think about. Only thing I care about on the list is a larger iPhone. Would LOVE one.

  24. Shaun G - 9 years ago

    Hoping to see all new MBA/MBP in line with the new Mac Pro design and colour scheme. Farewell to silver macs at long last.

  25. Alex McAleer - 9 years ago

    Apple will have a better year. I don’t it’s going to be a unforgettable year of changes. Their iPhone is the only think in terms of real changes they need to make. Making a height spike from the 4S to the 5S will not be enough to consumers. Look at Google and Samsung. Price drops would be nice. If Google can do it, selling a tablet for $279, Apple can do it too.

    • rettun1 - 9 years ago

      Thats just it. Google makes their $ mainly through ads and related services. Apple makes money of the products they sell. So Google, now in the hardware game, can make competing products for ridiculously low prices, sold at prices only barely above the cost to manufacture it. I can understand siding with Google’s model, but i think its a little unreasonable for Apple to have to lower their prices. They’ve always been a little expensive, yet they do alright don’t they?

  26. Chris Johnson - 9 years ago

    I would like to see a 65″ 4K but not with a curved screen.

  27. Tallest Skil - 9 years ago

    >>A larger-screened iPhone Likelihood? 90%

    Yeah, if they’re imbeciles.

    >>Television Likelihood: 50%

    You must be joking.

    >>iWatch Likelihood: 90%

    Come on. Actually post something reasonable.

  28. Ben,
    First let us see what apple is offering right now.

    1) iPod shuffle screen 0″
    2) iPod Nano screen 2.5″
    3) iPhone Screen 4″
    4) (Missing Screen)
    5) iPad mini 8″ (7.9)
    6) iPad 10″ (9.7)
    7) Macbook at 11″, 13″, 15″

    We can clearly see that apple has almost every screen size at a difference of 2″ so the missing size is a 5.5″-6″ iPhone.

    Also I believe apple will at some point merge the 11″-13″ MacBook Air to one device. Hence also believe in 12.9 ” iPad which certainly is a MacBook Air killer. Even the core apple software now is all iOS compatible.

    • uniszuurmond - 9 years ago

      Agree, but as per my point above, I think the 12.9″ will be more MacBook Air and less iPad Pro.

      I am pretty sure the 5c was created to become the smaller iPhone mini, and that the 5s replacement will become a 5-6″ iPhone Air.

    • Ben Lovejoy - 9 years ago

      I’m not sure I agree a 12.9″ iPad is a MBA killer – for me, they are very different devices and I use them quite differently. Out and about, I mostly take my iPad but at least once a week take my MBA, and that wouldn’t change if the iPad were larger.

      • uniszuurmond - 9 years ago

        It’s like this: 12.9″ will push the iPad to uncomfortable for the sake of a bigger display. People will probably buy one, once. The beauty of the iPad is that it’s small to use as a handheld device, and 12.9″ would put it just outside that margin. For exactly the same reason an iPhone closer to 6″ would put it outside the margin of a one-hand device, which is why I bet it’ll be closer to 5″ when they go bigger.

        Apple is very good at giving people what they need, not what they want. For the latter, we have Samsung, and I constantly see how people are not as satisfied with those products. What they want is not always what’s best for them.

      • Air Burt - 9 years ago

        A 12.9″ iPad would be a Surface killer. IF they release it, that’s the target market.

      • Ben Lovejoy - 9 years ago

        The Surface appears to be doing just fine at being killed without any help from Apple :-)

      • Air Burt - 9 years ago

        Agreed. The “iPad Pro” would be its death knell as it’ll be a hybrid device like the Surface (but probably with no kickstand) that runs a full-blown, touch-optimized version of OS X.

  29. Rishi Acharya - 9 years ago

    Ben, I think Apple will make “dumb” thunderbolt displays into apple TVs. (Remember menu button on aluminum remote would convert old MBs into Apple TV?). They would have two models 27 (or 32) and 50 thunderbolts at 499 and 999 (the way they are going with aggressive pricing) and (I am little more optimist here :)) 32 and 50 4Ks at 2k and 3k. (remember they had 15, 20 and 30 cinema displays at one time). They might release it with new MBs this year. Yes, I did watch all keynotes in last 2-3 nights :)

  30. Jim Phong - 9 years ago

    A curved screen iPhone would be a big mistake. As well as going above 4.5 to 4.7-inch in size.
    Instead Apple should release this concept on their patent:


    Having an all-screen iPhone would allow many new features without having to release a big phablet nonsense.

  31. Jim Phong - 9 years ago

    A larger screen 12.9″ iPad obviously means more expensive .. and that needs to be an hybrid. It should be the first Apple hybrid with both Intel CPU and Apple ARM SoC inside. So able to run both OSX and iOS at the same time seamlessly.
    Such a product could even replace the MacBook Air.

  32. Thomas Wolfe - 9 years ago

    Sounds really exciting! It’s going to be a good year for Apple.

  33. Air Burt - 9 years ago

    You haven’t been paying attention as much as Hadi has.

  34. jsandrin - 9 years ago

    A larger iPad screen with 256GB and Lightroom for iPad would be great for my photo work flow. Now we just need the larger iPad and Lightroom for iPad to become real.

  35. Ahmad Mustaqim - 9 years ago

    what about cheaper iMac?

    • Air Burt - 9 years ago

      Not gonna happen. If anything gets cheaper, it’s going to be the rMBP. The iMacs will actually go up a little when they finally add a Retina display (5120×2880 resolution).

  36. Some of that will certainly materialize, sooner or later, but no-one mentions iTunes, App store, and not much is said about Software … Personally, I still make a daily use of my 5yrs McBook and an iPhone4, and I would dream of a nice Calendaring application, “à la FaceBook time-line” with planning of future events be they recorded in Outlook, iCal, iPhone photos of the announcement of an event, etc …
    With Pages/Numbers/etc. now free for IOS7, can’t we also expect some pricing evolutions, including FileMaker? …

  37. Air Burt - 9 years ago

    12″ screen in the same chassis as the 11″ MBA; that was talked about awhile back. There’s as much proof as anything of these predictions. Get with it.

  38. Here’s what I think Apple has in store for 2014:

    iOS–iOS 8.0 will finally get device resolution independence, which will allow for any size display screen at Retina Display resolution.

    iPhone–we will get two models, a second-generation iPhone 5c with the internals of the current iPhone 5s, and a new iPhone 6 with a larger screen (about the same size as the Samsung Galaxy S III) and a new A8 system on a chip (SoC)

    iPad–current models will add 802.11ac Wi-Fi support and switch to A8 SoC. We might see a 12.9″ model with Retina Display, which I’ll call iPad Max as a provisional name.

    iWatch–the Apple developed “wearable” watch computer arrives this fall, tied to the iPhone or iPad via Bluetooth LE. Unlike the Samsung Galaxy Gear, the iWatch will have a curved screen, a sleek design, and much longer battery life per charge.

    Apple television set–could arrive late in 2014, a TV set that uses a 3840 x 2160 Ultra HD flat screen with local-dimming LED backlit LCD made with IGZO trechnology. It will sport HDMI 2.0 connectors for connection to disc players and set top boxes that provide Ultra HD resolution video. It will use a modified Apple TV interface with Siri voice control to search for video programs across cable TV, satellite TV or online streaming sources. TV set will be available in 55″, 65″ and 75″ (diagonal) sizes.

  39. Air Burt - 9 years ago

    Just stop being an asshole. This is an article about predictions and the 12″ MacBook redesign prediction was done months ago.

  40. Air Burt - 9 years ago

    Your call for evidence is not logical or warranted in this context. The evidence has been presented before and he simply isn’t running with that prediction this time around. Again, quit being an ass.

  41. Air Burt - 9 years ago

    Correction: YOU don’t get it. You have zero proof that Apple will never bring back the “MacBook”. Apple has been looking into 12″ LCDs and it would be very easy to fit it in the 11″ MBA with smaller bezels. The differences between the MBA and MBP are becoming less and less. Once the Air makes the jump to Retina, the only tangible difference will be its wedge design. A rebrand is in the works and bringing back the plain MacBook moniker is an extremely likely move.

    If you have absolute proof that Apple won’t use it, put up or shut up.

    • Tallest Skil - 9 years ago

      Hey, enjoy that fantasy world. The only way the MacBook is returning is as a rebrand of every laptop they sell, three years before laptops are discontinued entirely.

  42. Air Burt - 9 years ago

    HA! I’m living in a fantasy world? Dream on! You just continue to say dumber and dumber things. For your sake, I hope your next comment surprises me with its intelligence as I have yet to see any from you.

  43. Herb Sandy (@hsandy) - 9 years ago

    I would like to see an Apple TV app store and SDK and a remote Bluetooth camera/mic for Facetime on the Apple TV which I think would be a killer app on that device.

  44. Air Burt - 9 years ago

    Since you’re a lazy douche, here you go: http://www.ubergizmo.com/2013/10/redesigned-macbook-air-getting-retina-display-in-2014-report/

    The name change goes with everything else that Apple has been doing and makes sense at this point.

    Now that the schooling is complete, whatever will you do? I await your childish response.

  45. Air Burt - 9 years ago

    You take everything that’s spoon-fed to you literally? That’s what’s truly depressing. Then again, it’s a great folly to expect you to say anything intelligent.

  46. Air Burt - 9 years ago

    Not once did I say that. Wow you’re a moron. How many more pearls of “wisdom” do you have for us?

  47. Air Burt - 9 years ago

    You’ll understand it when you’re older. Now let the adults talk. You have that big multiplication table test on Monday to study for unless you want to repeat 3rd grade again.

  48. Air Burt - 9 years ago

    You wish. I gave you proof and you concentrate on what I wasn’t talking about. Typical troll response. Continue being an ignorant child if that’s how you want to be treated.

  49. Air Burt - 9 years ago

    I went to the link, smartass. It makes the same prediction of a 12″ redesign. I know it’s hard for you to stay on topic when you’ve been proven wrong. You just continue losing credibility.

    Continue acting smart all you want; all we see is whine whine whine. Don’t worry; I’ll tell your mom to go home tonight so she can rock you to sleep.

  50. Ben Lovejoy - 9 years ago

    If I may be so bold, I think this turned into one of those pointless back-and-forth forum spats where neither party actually wants to continue but neither wants to allow the other the last word …

    So far as a move to a 12-inch MacBook is concerned, I’m not convinced this is a plan on Apple’s part, but I do think it’s possible. There is an argument for saying that a 12-inch display in something close to the current MBA 11 case size via smaller bezels would be acceptable to both 11- and 13-inch fans, while a 16-inch in something like the current MBP 15 sizing would provide a larger option and also partly pacify people like me who really want to see the return of the MBP 17.

    So how about we call it a possibility and end the wars? :-)

  51. praxiz - 8 years ago

    Real fun to read this now, nearly one year after. But it also shows us more clearly, it is not only a Question about size all the time. This are just tiny details. What you did not mention – and perhaps most people out there still do not understand the fully potential of the iWatch concept, when using it for our personal healthcare in the future. I mean this could be a real revolution in the healthcare worldwide. Some of us have seen what actually already is possible now and in the Future on TED.com : https://www.ted.com/talks/eric_dishman_health_care_should_be_a_team_sport – or another aspect : https://www.ted.com/talks/lee_cronin_print_your_own_medicine

    This ideas combined with Apple devices could finally tear down the world most expensive and ineffective Healthcare-system and build up something new and much more helpful for everybody.

    Not long ago we saw, how the old chemical photo-lab did disappear, how old film roles with 24 or 36 pictures were pretty expensive and we should wait for days to drive to the store to pay often for some pretty useless snapshots from our kids – too much of our ceiling and just a little peace of our kid… The digitalphoto and nearly endless memory for thousands of photos and printers we are free today.

    When this also can be happening with Healthcare, Apple will do so much more for the entire World, then just som screensize changes or a fancy clock. And challenging the plastic Creditcard is to also revolutionizing our way of thinking and things so much more easy ans save.

    I think, you have to see the new Apple products in a much larger frame like an Eagle, rather then
    just tiny details from a frogs perspective. Let Android do the Frog perspective…


Avatar for Ben Lovejoy Ben Lovejoy

Ben Lovejoy is a British technology writer and EU Editor for 9to5Mac. He’s known for his op-eds and diary pieces, exploring his experience of Apple products over time, for a more rounded review. He also writes fiction, with two technothriller novels, a couple of SF shorts and a rom-com!

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