I've stared into my crystal ball and this is what I see happening in regards to Apple in the coming 12 months when it comes to iOS, watchOS, tvOS and the related devices.
As for iOS, Apple will release new iPhones in September: the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus. They'll have the same screen sizes as the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus — but not sapphire screens or 3D screen effects.
What's more, I've changed my mind (hey, where there’s smoke, there’s probably fire) and feel that, as some pundits have predicted, Apple will release a 4-inch, cheaper "iPhone mini" for budget conscious consumers. It will be a no-frills model with an older processor, good-but-not-great camera, limited storage, etc.
I don’t think the new iPhones will have flexible displays, though that’s coming in the future. Foxconn Technology's subsidiary in Japan is developing flexible OLED panels that can be bent 90 degrees and will be produced by Innolux Corporation's factory in Tainan, but don’t look for Apple smartphones using such technology this year.
However, I do think we’ll see Apple smartphones with wireless charging and a waterproof body. I don’t think, as some do, that the physical Home button will disappear and be replaced by “soft” buttons. However, I do think that the rumors that Apple will — to much controversy — ditch the headphone jack and allow headphones/earbuds to be attached only by Bluetooth or a Lightning port are on target.
Expect to see the Apple Watch 2 arrive in the spring. It will be less dependent on the iPhone for its functions and will be able to run more apps independently. I don't think it will be thinner, but will be waterproof and have (slightly) better battery life. Also look for the Apple Watch 2 to get native GPS and additional health sensors.
The Apple TV will get an update, adding support for 4K media. However, unlike some pundits, I don’t expect it to arrive until mid-year or later. Also, Apple will finally hammer out deals for its TV streaming service (which I’ve dubbed Apple Web TV). It will launch in time for the 2016 holiday season (perhaps earlier) and cost $30 per month.
Regarding iPads, expect an iPad Air 2 by late winter or early spring. The form factor and color options will remain the same, but there’ll be a beefier processor (probably the A9), a screen resolution that matches that of the iPhone 6s, and perhaps better battery life. The iPad Air 3 camera will sport features such as panoramas, burst mode, slow motion capture, timer mode and time laps.
The rear iSight camera will retain the 8 megapixel count, while the front FaceTime HD camera will remain at 1.2 megapixels. But don’t look for 3D Touch; pundits say it won’t be added due to production issues.
As for the iPad mini, look for it to updated with better specs — UNLESS Apple decides to cancel it and leave the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus for those wanting an iOS device with a smaller screen than the iPad Air. I don’t expect this to occur this year, but it’s likely to happen in 2017.
And what of the iPod? I think this year will see the demise of the iPod nano and the iPod shuffle with only the iPod touch remaining of Apple’s ground-breaking media player. The touch will remain for those who want all the features of an iPhone without having a smartphone.
iOS 10 will, along with OS X Big Sur, be previewed at the 2016 Apple Worldwide Developer Conference, which will probably be held in June. It will be available for end users in September when the new iPhones are released.
The rumor mill has been abuzz about features for iOS 10, and I think many of them are on target. Expect expanded usage of Apple’s “personal digital assistant,” The company is said to be conducting internal testing of a new feature of Siri that will let it talk to your callers and transcribe your voicemail messages into text.
The iCloud Voicemail is said to replace standard voicemail, with one particular feature being able to quickly glance at and read voicemail messages, rather than having to listen to them. Business Insider has reported that the service is expected to launch next year. However, Apple don’t expect to roll out a mobile network of its own (at least, not this year).
Siri may also be able to recognize who is talking to it. A recent patent issued to Apple details a method for using a user recognition engine to customize how Siri reacts to a specific person. This could point towards multi-user support coming in iOS devices this year. I’m predicting that this will appear first on the Apple TV (which is a more of a multi-user device), but not until 2017 on iPhones and iPads.
Look for a new HomeKit-focused app in iOS 10, probably dubbed Home. It will be akin to the Health app, serving as a central hub that's used to communicate with an array of external devices, collating their data, and allowing you to control them.
Apple has been granted a patent for a feature that would enable iPhone users to view at a glance whether their contacts are available for a conversation, and where they are. Expect to see that in iOS 10.
What you won’t see (this year, anyway): Macs running A-series processors, an Apple Car, or a hybrid tablet/laptop.