5 Apple Products to Expect in 2015

Apple CEO Tim Cook shows off the new iPhone 6 and the Apple Watch during an Apple special event

Source: Justin Sullivan/ Getty Images

When it comes to revealing details about its upcoming product plans, there is probably no other tech company in the world today that rivals Apple’s obsession with secrecy. Besides allowing it to develop groundbreaking products like the iPhone without tipping off competitors, Apple’s refusal to discuss its future plans has also helped the company create unprecedented levels of consumer excitement around each new product release. On the other hand, the California-based company’s notorious secrecy has also given rise to a thriving rumor mill that is dedicated to filling the information gap about the company’s products.

Due to the dearth of official information from Apple, industry watchers interested in obtaining details about the iPhone maker’s upcoming products must rely on unnamed insider sources and anonymous supply chain leaks. While the information acquired from these sources should always be taken with a grain of salt, many rumors about Apple’s upcoming products have turned out to be accurate, including the long-running rumors about the Apple Watch. Now that Apple has wrapped up its 2014 fall product refresh cycle, the Apple rumor mill has focused its attention on the products that Apple may release in 2015. Here are five products that Apple fans will see or are likely to see in 2015.

Apple Watch faces are customizable

Source: Apple.com

1. Product: Apple Watch

Release date: early 2015

Let’s start by getting the most obvious new product out of the way. The Apple Watch is the only product that Apple has officially confirmed is coming next year, so it’s no secret that the company’s first wearable tech product will make its debut in 2015. On the other hand, there are still many unknown details about the Apple Watch, such as its expected battery life or the prices of all the various Watch models.

Apple has only revealed that the Apple Watch will be arriving in “early 2015.” However, according to the latest rumors cited by French Apple news site IGen.fr, the Apple Watch is likely to make its debut on Valentine’s Day. Apple has been similarly vague about the pricing of the various Watch models. Although Apple revealed that the Watch will start at $349, it is still unknown how much the more expensive models will cost. Price estimates for the 18-karat gold Apple Watch Edition collection models have ranged from around $1,200 to $10,000, according to various sources cited by TechCrunch and Forbes.

More recently, Apple’s release of the WatchKit software tools for developers revealed a few additional details about the device’s screen resolution and operational features. According to Apple, the 38 millimeter-size Watch models will feature a 272-by-340-pixel screen and the 42 millimeter versions will feature a 312-by-390-pixel screen. Watch apps will be heavily reliant on the iPhone and will deliver information through basic “Glances” or actionable notifications. While the first generation of Watch apps will require an iPhone in order to function, Apple revealed that native Watch apps will arrive later in 2015.

(Photo illustration by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)

(Photo illustration by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)

2. Product: Larger-screen iPad

Release date: Third quarter of 2015?

While Apple has never confirmed the existence of this product, many industry watchers believe that Apple will unveil a larger-screen iPad model sometime next year. The so-called iPad Pro or iPad Plus is rumored to feature a screen size that is over 12 inches, considerably bigger than the 7.9-inch and 9.7-inch iPad models currently offered by Apple. Last year, the Taiwan-based DigiTimes reported that Apple was developing a 12.9-inch tablet aimed at North America’s education market.

However, according to rumors from Japanese blog Mac Otakara, the larger-screen iPad will feature a 12.2-inch screen similar to the size of Microsoft’s Surface Pro 3. The iPad Pro is rumored to have an extremely thin profile of only seven millimeters, slightly thinner than the iPhone 6 Plus. According to Mac Otakara’s sources, the larger-screen iPad will be released sometime in the third quarter of 2015.

While it is possible that the large-screen iPad is primarily intended for use in educational settings, it is also likely related to Apple’s previously announced partnership with IBM. According to Apple, the partnership with IBM will “transform enterprise mobility through a new class of business apps.” Besides giving enterprise and education users a larger display that is ideal for group presentations, the iPad Pro may also include custom iOS software that allows for split-screen multitasking.

Source: Apple.com

Source: Apple.com

3. Product: MacBook Air with Retina display

Release date: mid-2015?

Although Apple has used its Retina display technology in its line of MacBook Pro laptops since 2012, the company has yet to debut a lower-cost MacBook Air with a Retina display. Earlier this year, a report from BGR predicted that the MacBook Air with Retina display would launch in time for the 2014 holiday shopping season, based on the release of a new Intel Core M processor that could allow the implementation of a higher resolution screen without sacrificing too much battery life. However, according to sources cited by Macworld, Apple is now waiting for the next generation i5 or i7 chipsets, due to the Core M processors’ supposedly poor performance. This means that Apple’s MacBook Air with Retina Display will likely arrive sometime in 2015.

Along with the rumors about an upgraded display for the current 11-inch and 13-inch MacBook Air models, there have also been persistent rumors about a new 12-inch MacBook Air model. As noted by MacRumors, the 12-inch MacBook Air is rumored to feature a Retina display, an ultra-slim clamshell casing, a new type of trackpad without a mechanical button, and a fan-less design. Those predictions aligned with a recent report from 9to5Mac that also suggested that the 12-inch MacBook Air would have no SD card slot or MagSafe connector and would feature the new USB Type-C ports, instead of the standard USB ports. Finally, well-connected Apple blogger Jack March predicted that the new 12-inch MacBook Air would be offered in the same three colors available for the iPhone 6 and would be released around mid-2015.

Source: Apple.com

Source: Apple.com

4. Product: redesigned Apple TV

Release date: sometime in 2015?

Earlier this year, there were persistent rumors that Apple was planning on expanding and improving the capabilities of its media streaming device. In March 2014, the Wall Street Journal reported that Apple was in negotiations with Comcast over the possibility of allowing Apple TV travel on a separate, less-congested part of the network. Another report from The Information in July suggested that Apple had plans to create a unified, Internet-based television service that would offer both live and on-demand programming. However, both initiatives appear to have stalled out due to negotiation difficulties with the cable companies and all the various content providers. For these reasons, sources cited by The Information believe that a revamped Apple TV product won’t make its debut until 2015.

While a redesigned Apple TV might just stream additional television channels, it could also provide entirely new types of services. Sources cited by the Financial Times earlier this year suggested that the upcoming Apple TV would feature support for video games as well as its own App Store. Other industry watchers have speculated that the Apple TV could be outfitted as a control hub for various connected home products that use apps created with Apple’s HomeKit tools, as predicted by Apple Insider.

Finally, there are some pundits who are still predicting the debut of an Apple television set in 2015. In an open letter published on his Shareholders’ Square Table website in October, activist investor Carl Icahn predicted that the company may enter the television set market with an “UltraHD TV set” in fiscal year 2016. This means that an Apple television set could make its debut in time for the 2015 holiday shopping season. However, it should be noted that most rumors about Apple’s television plans suggest that the company is continuing to refine its set-top box, rather than starting work on a new television set product.

Tony Zhan checks out his new iPhone 6 Plus outside the Apple store in Pasadena, California on the first day of sale, September 19, 2014.

Source: Robyn Beck/ AFP/ Getty Images

5. Product: iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus

Release date: third quarter of 2015?

With over half of the company’s annual revenue derived from its highly popular line of smartphones, it’s probably a safe bet to assume that Apple will debut at least one new iPhone model in 2015. Apple has launched its new iPhone models in the month of September over the past several years, so it is quite likely that it will continue that tradition in 2015. It also plausible that Apple will continue to offer its phablet-sized model that was introduced with the iPhone 6 Plus, since approximately 25% of Apple’s total iPhone sales have come from the 5.5-inch model, according to multiple surveys cited by Apple Insider.

Not surprisingly, there are currently few details known about any possible new features of the iPhone 7 or the iPhone 7 Plus. However, well-known tech industry commentator John Gruber recently suggested that the iPhone 7 would feature a vastly improved rear-facing camera. “The specific thing I heard is that next year’s camera might be the biggest camera jump ever,” said Gruber according to a transcript provided by BGR. “I don’t even know what sense this makes, but I’ve heard that it’s some kind of weird two-lens system where the back camera uses two lenses and it somehow takes it up into DSLR quality imagery.”

Another recent report from the Financial Times suggested that the Beats Music streaming service would be bundled into next year’s iOS 9. This means that the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus could be some of the first Apple mobile devices to feature a built-in Beats Music app. However, it’s unknown if the music streaming service would keep the Beats brand name or be integrated into Apple’s iTunes brand. Besides a new camera system and a built-in Beats Music app, the next-generation iPhone will also likely include the usual internal upgrades, such as a new A9 processor.

That’s it for our round-up of all the new Apple products you are likely to see in 2015. Be sure to check back regularly at the Cheat Sheet to get all your latest Apple rumors and news!

Follow Nathanael on Twitter @ArnoldEtan_WSCS

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