It’s May, which means several things, including: the end of the school year, the beginning of summer, a slew of technology conferences and perhaps more than ever, a continuing busy season for Apple (AAPL). While the Apple Watch has finally been introduced, the Cupertino, Calif.-based consumer electronics behemoth has much more in store.
For starters, from what we’ve seen in the Apple rumors so far, an iPhone 7 may be on its way later this year. Meanwhile, an upgraded Apple TV, large display iPad Pro and a new Beats Music streaming service may be among the other Apple launches in 2015.
Here are the Apple products that we are keeping our eyes on:
You read that right. There may not be an iPhone 6S, per the usual product cycle, because the company plans to deliver so many enhancements to its next generation smartphone, reports suggest. Rumors of this iPhone generational “skip” first gained steam when the usually reliable Apple KGI Securities analyst, Ming-Chi Kuo, made mention of it in early April, MacRumors reported. Obviously, none of this speculation has been commented on by Apple but the rumors are interesting because they represent a challenge to the standard two-year mobile carrier contract.
Three critical updates to the iPhone line, presented by the possibility of an iPhone 7, include: a new exterior shell, the addition of force touch technology and a more powerful processor.
According to a Chinese tech publication named udn.com, Apple plans to design its newest smartphone case with metal alloys it developed while creating the Apple Watch. In addition, there has been widespread reports dating back to 2010 which say that Apple is working to develop its patented sapphire displays for its iPhone. Could 2015 finally be the year it happens? If true these updates would may mean a slimmer, stronger and perhaps even lighter iPhone protege.
The Apple Watch already uses Force Touch commands via its Taptic Engine design to specialize specific device commands. The technology enables a smaller screened Apple Watch to do more with less. Whether the next iPhone has this technology is unclear, but KGI analyst Ming-Chi Kuo thinks it is possible. This could mean the removal of a home button and a cohort of new third-party application possibilities.
The evolution of Apple’s processor power has been a point of particular contention. AppleInsider claims that future models will carry 2GB of RAM and Re/code, which cited an anonymous sources familiar with the matter, believes Samsung will make Apple’s next chip — likely to be called the A9.
In June, Apple will host its 26th annual Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC). In the past, the conference has served as a platform for larger product revelations and general design updates. One of those updates is rumored to be related to the Apple TV. As many already know, CEO Tim Cook lowered the price of the Apple TV to $69, during Apple’s March 9 Spring Forward press event, while also announcing that HBO Now would be exclusive to Apple for about a $15 monthly subscription fee.
The Wall Street Journal has reported that the new video streaming box top will support voice controls with Siri and third-party applications. Elsewhere, BuzzFeed News says that the revamped Apple TV will include, support and buying options from the App Store, greater memory storage and a customized version of Apple’s A8 mobile chip. BuzzFeed went on to say that the unit would include basic “home automation features.”
Beats Music Service
Apple may also use the WWDC venue to announce further details regarding its high anticipated music streaming service, Beats Music. The service is set to directly compete with current market leader, Spotify, and Apple is taking every necessary step — even if legally questionable — to guarantee that Beats has a chance to win, The Verge reports. Sources told The Verge that Apple has offered to pay Universal Music Group’s hefty licensing fee if the group would halt from allowing its music to be streamed via YouTube. Apple is also allegedly attempting to poach major music labels away from Spotify, thereby disrupting their streaming contracts and overall business.
9to5Mac reports that Beats Music service will actually launch several weeks after WWDC 2015 to coincide with the launch of iOS 8.4 and iTunes 12.2. While Business Insider reports that the service will cost approximately $7.99 a month, according to Re/Code, there will also be fee-free promotional offerings to entice new customers. That being said, Apple doesn’t intend to generally support free, unlimited on-demand streaming as its competitors have. Expect a trial period accompanied by a heavy marketing campaign later this summer before the service launches in full force.
The iPad Pro is one of the hottest rumored Apple products in years perhaps because the iPad is so drastically in need of reinventions and renewed inspiration. Current iPad offerings are stale and consumers have reacted with disinterest, based on Apple’s fiscal year Q1 earnings report. Sluggish Q1 iPad sales represented the second time since 2011 that the iPad dropped below Mac products on generated revenue, Quartz reported.
MacRumors reports that the iPad Pro will carry a 12.9-inch display and measure 12 inches x 8.7 inches x 0.28 inches. Less is known about eventual port options, however. Many believe that Apple will tout what they believe to be the new data port standard on their next iPad line — the USB-C — evident in the 2015 Macbook. And according to a new report from a Korean news site (reported on by Business Insider), the iPad Pro “could feature silver nano wires for better accuracy and pressure sensitivity”—which should bolster rumors that the new iPad might include Force Touch.
Once again, KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo made a prediction that Apple would release an iPad Pro and a newer iPad mini in Q2 2015—though that obviously is unlikely now.
Interestingly, however, Kuo also mentioned the addition of a stylus accessory for the new iPad. The idea of a stylus has caught on in Apple’s developer and fan communities, especially as Apple’s IBM partnership deal received immediate corporate interest. The IBM connection could mean an enterprise-tailored product approach for some of Apple’s products in the future but the idea remains a rumor. Other iPad additions like a software suite of office apps coming standard, a slimmer high-resolution display and the inclusion of Apple’s taptic engine for better typing, have also been prominent rumors.