My crystal ball is sometimes cloudy (hey, I predicted that the MacBook Air would be discontinued). However, here’s what I foresee for Apple’s AirPods, HomePod, AirPower, and Apple Watch products this year.
AirPods (and other headphones)
The AirPods 2 will see the light of day this spring. They’ll be more water resistant (but not water proof) and allow users to active Siri by simply saying, "Hey Siri." They’ll also sport an upgraded Apple-designed wireless chip for managing Bluetooth connections.
Almost a year ago, Ming-Chi Kuo predicted that Apple would release all-new “high-end over-ear headphones” during in the fall of 2018. Never happened, though, of course, the company actually sells over-ear headphones through via its Beats brand. However, Apple-branded over-the-ear headphones will arrive by spring. And — I’m going out on a limb here — the entire Beats line-up will be assimilated into he Apple brand proper before the end of the year.
Apple’s “we-shall-not-speak-of-this” wireless charger, announced in 2017, will also arrive this spring. If not, consider it dead-in-the-water.
If it does materialize, look for an updated AirPods case that supports wireless charging. Even it the AirPower never sees the light of day, Apple might release an AirPods case that works with third party wireless chargers.
Apple Watch Series 5
I don’t expect any major design changes to the Apple Watch Series 5, though longer battery life is something I anticipate, as well as, of course, a thinner screen. Some folks expect a round watch face, but I don’t think that would be optimal for all the features of the smartwatch.
As for features, look for the next version of watchOS — coming in the fall along with the Series 5 — to pack even more health related items, such as blood pressure monitoring and improved sleep monitoring.
Also look for watchOS to add more sports/fitness features such as running functions like cadence tracking. And we should finally get an always-on display so we can easily check the time.
In addition to the current HomePod, I expect Apple to introduce a lower-cost mini version and a higher-end HomePod maxi for home theater enthusiasts.
All of the speakers will get a software/firmware upgrade that will allow them to control the Apple TV. For example, if you have a HomePod paired with your Apple TV, you’ll be able to ask Siri to display info on your TV screen, start a program, or launch an app.
Speaking of the Apple TV, I don’t expect any major changes to the set-top box, although I believe the rumors that Apple will add a cheaper Apple TV dongle to compete with the Fire Stick and Google Chromecast. The goal: help attract more folks to the company’s coming-soon streaming video service.
Said video service will arrive by May and will be a subscription service. Some pundits have said that it would be offered free to owners of Apple hardware, but I just can’t see that. I think Apple will offer it in a bundle with Apple Music and a revamped version of Texture, the “Netflix of digital magazines” that Apple purchased in 2018.
What won’t happen
There are several Apple predictions that I’m 99% certain WON’T happen.
For example, Apple won’t buy Tesla or Sony Pictures. Not this year, not ever.
Apple won’t roll out its own automobile. Not this year, not ever. Instead it will work with other companies to introduce Apple tech into their vehicles.
Apple won’t debut Apple Glasses or a VR headset. That will happen in 2020 (although I’d love to be proven wrong on this).