After a product-rich 2021, Apple is still looking for a way to make a difference and stand out. 2022 promises an abundance of expectations and high-quality novelties. Habits that may be shaken with the arrival of a single product…
2021 is a bit sparse on Apple’s side, with four new iPads (iPad 9, iPad mini, iPad Pro M1 11-inch, iPad Pro M1 12.9-inch with mini LED display), many iPhone 13s, an Apple Watch Series 7, The new MacBook Pro with the M1 Max chip (14-inch and 16-inch) and the equivalent iMac, AirTags, AirPods and new Apple TV ? Well, rest assured: In 2022, the Apple brand should have a wider impact.
At least that’s what Bloomberg’s Apple expert reporter Mark Gurman thinks, as he delivers his impressions, information and predictions in his weekly Power-On newsletter like every Sunday.
Clearly it’s time to make predictions for the coming year like everyone else. But most importantly, it’s time to take stock of all the rumors and what to expect from Cupertino.
A bit upside down IPHONE
Unsurprisingly, the start of the new school year will bring a new batch of iPhone 14s, and they shouldn’t deviate from the rules, in groups of four. However, the mini version may disappear (but we said it back in 2021…) to have a range of two screen sizes (6.1 and 6.5 inches). The likelihood and quality of the surface will have an impact.
As always, the first rumors about the next-gen iPhones have been circulating before the previous iPhones were released. It shouldn’t be a revolution, either in function or design. Apple has reviewed copies of the iPhone 12 and iPhone 13, and it optimizes everything in terms of autonomy and photography. Still, the company’s flag-bearer could bring some innovation.
Mark Gurman also floated the idea of replacing the front TrueDepth camera with a simple punch hole. Giving up on facial recognition technology so advanced compared to its rivals — but notorious for its looks, even reduced in 2021 — would be an admission of failure. Fitting it into such a small structure would be a feat of engineering. Apple could then do half of that by integrating Face ID under the screen, possibly leaving the camera in the bubble.
Like Apple, which doesn’t reveal anything, the substance of the rumors is likely to be true (shrunk the front-facing camera to the size of a bubble). Renderings are usually a bit different (think the straight sides of the Apple Watch, according to Jon Prosser, they’re there, but only half a millimeter high…). So this fist might actually exist. Whether it will come to the iPhone 14, iPhone 14 Pro, or the yet-to-be-anticipated third-generation iPhone SE is a mystery.
IPHONE SE: Will see, won’t see?
As for the latter, it has long been rumored that it should appear in 5G with a more powerful chip. The iPhone SE 2020 uses 2019’s A13 Bionic chip and the design of the iPhone 8.
There are two possibilities: Apple still has the body in stock and is content with sneaky updates, just like the first gen launched in 2016 (but it’s just excellent storage)…or the iPhone SE 3 really Saw Dawn’s new compact form factor (iPhone mini?), more possibilities, and a powerful LCD screen that couldn’t hold a TrueDepth camera. This has dominated Apple for a long time, and it would have liked to have OLED panels for its entry-level smartphones, but never managed to fit it into such a small format. To provide a large, almost bezel-less screen, a hole punch would be the solution. The iPhone SE also doesn’t have a TrueDepth camera.
If it becomes a reality, the 2022 iPhone SE may return to its good habit of showing up in the spring. This moment remains one of Apple’s highlights of the year, but we really don’t know what to announce. It used to be the cheapest product like iPad and/or iPhone SE service. But since then, the 2020 iPad Pro and 2021 Apple TV have taken over the space along with the iMac, the new iPad Pro, and AirTags…
The AirPods Pro 2 could also take advantage of a possible spring shooting window to finally reveal itself. Of course, we expect three Apple Watches to arrive in 2022, including a new Apple Watch SE and a sportier/sturdier version. The first will take its place in the March-April event, opening the fiscal year in style (or closing it if it arrives before the end of March).
The rise of the MAC continues
For Mark Gurman, (even) bigger changes are to be expected. We can only agree that Apple has been doing everything it can to change and update its entire line lately, first under the in-house M1 chip (iMac, MacBook Pro 13, MacBook Air, Mac mini) and then under the powerful M1 Pro and M1 Max chip.
That leaves only one possible iMac Pro showing up between the drops we’ve been waiting for. Bloomberg reporters claim that Apple has launched the new Mac Pro under the M1 Pro and M1 Max chips. He specifically mentioned a smaller Mac Pro with a whopping 40 cores processor and 128 graphics cores, and a new Mac mini, apparently the iMac Pro, which has been out of production for a few years and has a bigger screen.
Next June’s WWDC 2022 developer conference would be the perfect time to announce that all professional home products are moving to Apple chips. And Gurman also predicted the long-awaited redesign of the entry-level MacBook Air and MacBook Pro. Unlike the laptops coming out at the end of the year, they haven’t had a new design for several years, and they need a new design, just like the MacBook Air’s price cut. Without sales, performance is nothing, and offering an affordable device would further cement Apple’s position in a competitive market.
So the notch could be generalized, but it would be nice if it ended up integrating facial recognition unlocking and other Microsoft aspects of Windows Hello and such. A way to fully serve the War Machine cause, not just a cosmetic notch (there are still some display glitches).
Two real feet
After two years of the fallout from the pandemic and supply shortages — though Apple remains the damage control expert in the game — to make 2022 memorable, it’s time for the California giant to impress. More recently, the sheer amount of engineering power surrounding the M1 chip has demonstrated its ability to reinvent itself, regain its power, and most importantly, become more independent of its partners.
Autonomy also plays this role of self-sufficiency and independence, which may be good for the Apple team, but not necessarily an ecstatic “wow” to the public. For that, you need a new product, which Apple has been lacking in recent years. True, the Cupertino team popularized wireless earphones with AirPods, making them a consumer product like the iPod in the past. But it’s not the kind of revolution the brand has wanted to brag about with every release in the past.
To that end, Apple may be waiting to introduce its virtual reality headset to the world. Gurman, like the others, predicted until 2022. Those “Apple Glasses” that could offer the augmented reality Tim Cook is so keen on have been delayed time and time again. If the product is really ready, it will be shown this year. But it’s hard to imagine the company’s bosses revealing any of its other products as in the video shot in the bay at Apple Park. Novelty hopes to be anchored in a very tangible reality, even allowing iPhone users to enter another reality.
A headset — or augmented reality glasses with virtual things, even whispered without actually believing it’s just a product or two — needs a decent form of familiarity that only yesterday’s keynote could provide. Don’t go in front of an empty space without reporters/influencers approaching them and spreading the news on social networks, media, TV, etc. around the world.
Novelty is not affected by relative entry in waiting. From 2020, Apple can patiently endure its grief. It’s not that the extra months of waiting will ruin the project. If the headset is wearable and the event is even semi-in-person, then WWDC 2022 and its developers are looking for novelties that would be the ideal stage for a debuft, like the HomePod in the past or the Mac Pro. Developers can grind their teeth with the new headset OS to tame the beast and launch pro or consumer products with much fanfare (in person) in late 2022 or early 2023.
When life becomes relatively normal, helmets could be another spring-themed thing. Between products with SE or entry-level badges, the MacBook Air and AirPods updates, it will resonate with the event and really kick off the new year for the company. Before the thunderous end of the year with the successful iPhone 14s and the increasingly powerful MacBook Pro. but if…