Like a groundhog, once a year here I am, predicting the imminent future. As in, what is Apple going to tantalize us with this year? Or, alternatively, what do I wish they’d reveal? My list has a few repeats every year, and it seems that one of my favorite unicorns is about to be spotted, while another has vanished completely.
It seems that Apple won’t be releasing an actual television anytime soon. This rumor was always a bit confusing to me. A TV is ajust a big flat panel, and all the smarts that you can put into it and upgrade on a regular basis won’t justify buying a new 80″ TV every year. I’m willing to let it go. Especially since the iCar is everyone’s new favorite Apple Unicorn.
For me, if Apple finally reveals an AppleTV SDK it’ll be the culmination of a long and persistent prediction path for me. Of course, rumors say that the new hardware won’t be forthcoming, but I kind of figured that would end up launching closer to August anyway. Makes more sense for them to launch a cable replacement service then anyway. And when there is still no SDK at the end of today’s announcements? Well, I will be sad but no longer surprised. I’ll take comfort in seeing a WatchOS SDK instead.
I do think we’ll hear about it though, as part of a focus on Home Kit. We won’t see any Apple branded Home Kit devices, but I’m sure we’ll see some boring third party products that do the same thing as every other smart home product. Yes, IFTT will let me have Hue light bulbs turn purple whenever the Lakers win. Like that’s been a frequent occurrence lately. I still haven’t bought a Nest, and that is the one Smart Home device that I can justify as both useful and attractive. I am holding off on this whole smart home movement in the hope of avoiding a box in my garage filled with ugly, bulky smart home plugs.
Apple Music? Sure, why not. Because there’s nothing like introducing a platform to developers that they can only consume and not integrate into. But hey, that means the possibility of an appearance by Taylor Swift is on the table. I fully expect that Google Music, Spotify, Amazon Music and Tidal will all end up being very similar services with a few really annoying exclusives as differentiators. Just like Amazon and Netflix now, 95% of the content will be completely duplicative so that you feel stupid paying for more than one.
Speaking of Netflix, if Apple is going full bore into streaming music, how long until they move into streaming video? Do they roll their own or do they buy Netflix?
Will we see new iPads? Nah, that’ll be part of the annual iOS device launch around September.
No, this year we’re looking at OS updates for iOS and Mac OS. Lots of stability improvements, a font swap from Helvetica Neue to San Francisco, and a lot of small changes to clear away things that annoy users. One thing that I think we’ll see is better notification integration between the different platforms. In other words, if I already saw the notification on my iPhone, I don’t need to see it on my iPad and Macbook too. I think there will be a lot of fixes in that vein that will smooth the customer experience rather than expanding it.
One thing I’d love to see but won’t? A single place to enter your username and password for your cable provider. This would be ideal for the current model where there are a plethora of apps on iOS and AppleTV that require the same cable credentials in order to work. Which is patently absurd and stupid. But with Apple rolling out their own cable replacement later this year? Why improve the crappy model now? On a related note, I’ll really miss Comcast not at all.
I also expect a pretty big focus on improved Maps. Apple doesn’t like being the butt of jokes, and they know that they’ll have to have a Maps product that is exponentially better than the competition in order to overcome this particular blemish. Especially if they really are planning on releasing an AppleCar somewhere down the road.
All in all I expect a pretty low key event. So of course something magical is bound to be revealed.