by Brandon Butler
Prediction: Apple in 2020 1/3/2020

Okay, I’m just going to do this:

iPhone: New phones in March, and new phones in September. You don’t need an Alethiometer to know this. Slight changes to the screen profile (reduced notch, slightly reduced edges) and new colors, and at least seven cameras, are also kinda-sorta guaranteed. March phones will be lower end hardware with a $500 entry point, but I’d be surprised to see an iPhone 5/SE size offering. September phones will be the Pro phones with the first 5G release.

iPad: The iPad lines will maintain their structure with the Pro line getting a major refresh in March, with the Air getting a small spec bump, and likely updates to the $329 entry model. As iPad sales are a little stagnant, I would expect Apple will be looking at new designs and apps that will prompt new users to buy and existing users to upgrade, but Apple’s slow development cycle means we may not see anything significant occur with the iPad line until ‘21. I think 2020 is a great year to buy any model iPad.

MacBook: The MacBook line will stay as-is, but with the 15-inch Pro being phased out entirely. The 13-inch Pro gets an update but remains 13-inches. Sorry, but the portability of 13-inches is just too good to lose. The Air line carries on as being the super thin $999 laptop. The MacBook returns with an Apple A-series SoC, getting 24-hour+ battery life and a super aggressive price point of $500. This is the same naming and pricing structure of the iPad, and Apple is nothing if not consistent with their naming structure. I’d like to see Apple offer the A-series MacBook with multiple screen sizes, just like they do with the Pros. I think there are a lot of people out there looking for a large screen MacBook but not willing to spend $3k on a Pro model. I’m not entirely sure this will happen, given Apple’s stubbornness of One-Size-Fits-All (Except on iPhones?).

iMac: The iMac line comes to an end, replaced with the new consumer Mac line. The new Mac will get a fanless redesign and a few new colors of white, silver, and space gray, and maybe that gold color from the MacBook Air. It’ll be the basic Mac for web and email and balancing your budget with an A-series chip and some sort of “fast” marketing. This redesign likely occurs in the Fall.

Mac Mini: I have no idea where the Mac Mini is going in 2020. I don’t understand who buys them or why. Not upgradable, not super powerful, and expensive. I’ve been stuck on this for a week. Honestly, I don’t know.

Mac Pro: New Afterburner card in the Fall, maybe. Otherwise it seems kinda well positioned for a year or two of coasting.

Watch: New Watch in the Fall, better battery, maybe this one creates a protective bubble around you that absorbs damage, who knows? There is so much space to innovate in the Watch, and it’s always a fun surprise, especially now that Apple knows it’s a medical device/time piece. Blood pressure or insulin monitoring seem likely down the road considering how much of the population is affected by those. But Fall 2020 seems a little too early for either.

AppleTV: No hardware changes.

HomePod: So, on the first draft of “Predictions” I forgot to include the HomePod. I think this $350 eyesore is entirely dependent on Tim Cook’s love of the product. If he’s been enjoying it, I think we might see a v2 with a new design and a lower, $199 price point. But the HomePod Echo is never going to happen. Apple doesn’t sell cheap little devices. When they announced Apple Music for the Alexa devices, that was Apple confirming as much. Plus, with growing concerns and scrutiny over always-on microphones in the home, I can see Apple wanting to focus on the smart speaker portion of the product and not the smart microphone.

AirPods: Possibly an AirPod 3 refresh in the summer; no new Pros till next year.

Displays: People are clamoring for a 5K Apple-made display, and it seems like an easy thing to pluck out of the iMac and sell stand-alone. For whatever reason Apple is giving those sales to LG, but I could see a 5K display getting announced at WWDC this year. I’ll give it a maybe, but if it doesn’t happen at WWDC, it won’t happen.

Software: Lastly, software. Upgrades as usual in the Fall, with iOS 14 being heavily touted during WWDC and the Fall Event as the most stable iOS release ever, with developers getting new tools for bug testing and reporting. Public betas will be delayed longer than usual and see fewer, but more stable releases. Apple needs to repair the damage they did to their reputation with iOS 13, and that will require major reassurances to devs and the faithful that they’ve fixed their software development pipeline. iOS 14 will launch with the majority of new features on day one; I don’t believe Apple will adopt a staggered release, at least not for this year. The Execs like showing off all the new stuff on Day 1 too much to delay major new features. And this is the year iCloud “free” storage goes above 5GB… right?! It has to be.

Take a moment to think about to the end of 2009, with your iPhone 3GS in your pocket, your tangle of earbud cables in another, and whatever the hell Google Wave was. Technology has come a long way in a short amount of time. I think if the 2010’s were the year of the smartphone, then the 2020’s will be the year of the wearables, as our tech becomes smaller and more focused on a specific goal, like health or safety. When we look back in a decade at our quint iPhone 11’s and Teslas that can’t even drift, I suspect phones will still be in our pockets, but our pants, shoes, headphones, watches, and glasses will be monitoring our bodies and our environments like never before. Of course, I could be completely wrong.