What to expect from Apple in 2022


Business users have a lot to look forward to from Apple in the coming year. With 2022 less than a month away now, here’s a rundown of what’s likely coming.

The iPhone SE – the lowest cost 5G iPhone

Apple is now expected to introduce a 5G version of the iPhone SE in spring.

The device is expected to have a Touch ID button, an LCD display, and an A15 processor, but is also thought to boast a 5G connection. This is going to be the cheapest way to get a 5G iPhone.

Carriers are likely to support the release with decent deals for new users in most every market as they seek to build their 5G customer bases into profit. The combination of lower cost, carrier deals, and 5G — along with that powerful A15 chip — will tempt consumers and expand the 5G market.

That’s going to be an opportunity to develop new hybrid working models and for consumer-focused enterprises to build out new 5G-savvy services.

The real POWER Mac

Mac users are in for delight in 2022, as that’s when Apple is expected to show what you can do when you own the most scalable processor architecture in the world.

The company has already transitioned its MacBook devices, Mac mini, and most iMac models to Apple Silicon, but has more waiting in the wings: a 30-in. iMac, 128-core Mac Pro and possibly a Mac mini Pro. The latter would offer more interconnects and contain an M1 Pro chip, making this a fantastic low-cost desktop for any office, home, or server farm.

But the Mac Pro will be the compelling story. It may feature 16x CPU, 28x GPU and 32x neural engine cores — and up to four M-series processors working together.

What that means in raw performance terms is anybody’s guess. But I have a hunch it will blow existing Photoshop, Final Cut Pro or Logic Pro X performance benchmarks out the water. These will truly be powerful Power Macs worthy of that name.

Expect some upgrade requests from your creative and research departments.

Meet the next generation

That’s even before we begin meeting the second-generation M-series Macs, likely beginning with the consumer models once again.

The insanely popular MacBook Air is expected to be thinner and lighter than before with a flat-edge design, 1080p webcam, mini-LED display, and MagSafe. It may be available in colors and boast more graphics cores, which (on the basis of iterative A-series chip history) may deliver a 20% performance boost for slightly less energy.

What this means is that the MacBook Air will deliver the kind of performance you once needed to pay top dollar for at a more affordable price, which is great news for tech budgets. Don’t neglect that Apple is moving to lead the industry in chip design, with Qualcomm (I think) its emerging biggest competitor.

Psst: Don’t say anything, but speculation is way too quiet on the iPad front.

Apple Watch Series 8

Despite its positive critical reception, Apple Watch Series 7 seemed to leave many industry watchers cold. Apple Watch 8 should change that, potentially introducing the long-speculated-upon new “flat” design, a non-invasive diabetes sensor (at last) and better body temperature and sleep tracking tech. Car crash detection could also be part of the offer, though this may be a feature across all Apple mobile devices in 2022. An Apple Watch SE 2 also seems likely and it’s possible the company may introduce a more robust model with rugged casing aimed at extreme sports.

Who is the iPhone 14 for?

I don’t know how Apple can maintain the momentum it has generated with iPhone 12 and iPhone 13, both of which seem to have achieved record sales. While it’s way too early for any but the most enthusiastic recent purchasers to upgrade, Apple will want iPhone 14 to appeal to switchers and upgraders.

When it comes to upgraders, the target users are most likely going to be those who purchased an iPhone 7, iPhone 8, or iPhone X.

The selling point to those users?

It may be the lack of notch.

iPhone 14 may hide Face ID and camera sensors hidden under the display. The 5G radio will come from Qualcomm while the A16 chip is likely to be an improved 4nm version of the 5nm processor currently used in iPhones. It will provide better battery life and a slight boost in performance, albeit augmented by additional machine learning enhancements that make these smartphones seem much faster than they  technically are – and they will be significantly more powerful than the likely demographic of iPhone upgraders have used.

A 2TB option is possible at the high end.

WWDC (probably) stays virtual

I’m not optimistic that WWDC will be an in-person event next year.

The emergence of new viral strains shows how quickly things can deteriorate, and international reaction seems to be to close ranks but play it cool pending discovery of how Omnicron works. While vaccines may mitigate some of these effects, the truth is that when it comes to a global event such as WWDC, no one is safe until everyone is safe. And there’s no strong signal yet to suggest a global vaccine program will be in place by June 2022.

With that in mind, I think we’ll be watching the introduction of the huge host of AR-focused OS upgrades Apple plans to talk about next June from home in 2022.

And speaking of AR…

The biggest Apple news next year is likely to be the introduction of Apple’s AR glasses. Decades in the making, these will usher in a brand-new platform opportunity — and may even replace opticians.

While the scope of that opportunity will inevitably be defined by the capabilities of the APIs the company makes available, we can guess that voice, gesture, and motion controls will be part of this. And object and body position and machine vision imaging analysis capabilities will be available from the get-go.

In use, you’ll be able to walk around a town in a completely foreign country and see all signs automatically translated into your language — you’ll also be able to explore those places without visiting. That’s got to present an opportunity for education, visitor attractions, tourism, retail, and city management.

I expect these devices will enable new ways of working in factories, warehousing, maintenance, and beyond. Given this is a new platform opportunity, it makes sense for Apple to announce them (or something like them) before they ship in an attempt to motivate developers to build solutions.

Right now, the smart money sees these announced at WWDC with the products shipping later, along with what Apple hopes will be a wave of useful applications. The caveat emptor here is price. If these things are as expensive as some predict, the early opportunity is most likely to be in the development of niche solutions for high-end users, rather than mass market consumer “experiences.” Think architecture, product design, government, and education more than next-generation Pokemon.

Regulation and supply

There’s no sense yet that government regulators have finished with Apple. It will continue to face investigations across many of its businesses, and regulators will probably begin to deliver judgments on industries it already plays in at about the same time it enters brand new segments (AR, cars, health) in which such concerns don’t yet exist. Regulation may dent the company’s cash hoard and potentially constrain some of its expansion, but donany judgements made against Apple might also be applied against its competitors, which could become a positive force in the longer term.

The global supply chain crisis is also likely to remain problematic throughout 2022. This may show itself in the limited supply of some products, effectively shunting sales Apple would have made into subsequent quarters. Don’t be terribly surprised, either, to see Apple and its chip manufacturing partners set up processor factories in the US  with support from the incoming Semiconductor Aid package CEO Tim Cook’s team has been lobbying for.

What do you expect in 2022? Drop me a line with your ideas.

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Copyright © 2021 IDG Communications, Inc.


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