10 New Apple Products to Expect in 2016
2015 was a big year for Apple. The Apple Watch, the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus, the fourth-generation Apple TV, and the iPad Pro brought new hardware innovations and milestones, while iOS 9, watchOS 2, OS X 10.11 El Capitan, and the new tvOS ushered in important new updates across Apple’s lineup of new and existing gadgets. And 2016 promises to bring just as many exciting new gadgets and software milestones, and a robust number of rumors are already circulating about Apple’s plans for the year.
So what can you expect from Apple in 2016? A second-generation Apple Watch, the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus, the smaller iPhone 6c, plus Macs with Skylake chip updates are some of the highlights on the hardware side. And software-wise, you can look forward to iOS 10, OS X 10.12, watchOS 3, a new version of tvOS, plus important updates to services like HomeKit and Apple Pay. Read on to catch up on the details.
1. Apple Watch 2
As Juli Clover reports for MacRumors, rumor has it that a second-generation Apple Watch will debut in March 2016, about a year after the launch of the first Apple Watch, and ship as soon as April. The device could integrate some of the sensors that ultimately didn’t make it into the first-generation Apple Watch, including ones that can measure skin conductivity, blood oxygen level, and blood pressure.
The Apple Watch 2 is also expected to be thinner than the first version, and it’s possible that it could integrate a FaceTime camera and a Wi-Fi chip that would enable it to depend on a paired iPhone less. Bands in new colors and designs are also likely to accompany the introduction of the Apple Watch 2.
2. iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus
The iPhone 7 and the iPhone 7 Plus are expected to make their debut in September 2016, following the precedent set by past iPhone launches. As with the iPhone 6 and the iPhone 6s, Apple is expected to offer a 4.7-inch model and a 5.5-inch model, and the iPhone 7 is also expected to bring a redesigned body, with a thinner form factor, no visible antenna bands, and a new case composition.
Apple will likely upgrade the processor and the camera, and a number of rumors have indicated that the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus could gain a camera system with dual lenses. The phones are also rumored to include a TFT-LCD display, since rumor has it that the AMOLED tech that Apple is reportedly working on isn’t yet ready for use in iOS devices. It’s possible that the smaller iPhone 7 could ship with 2GB of RAM, while the larger iPhone 7 Plus could feature 3GB of RAM. Both could ship without a headphone jack, and rumors so far shared only by less-reliable sources indicate that the phones could feature a waterproof and dust-proof casing.
3. iPhone 6c
iPhone fans who miss the days of the smaller iPhones Apple released before the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus could finally get an upgraded, 4-inch iPhone in the form of the iPhone 6c. The phone is expected to launch within the first few months of 2016, perhaps at the March event that Apple is reportedly planning. As MacRumors notes, if the iPhone 6c launches in March, it would be the first iPhone to launch outside of the fall since 2011. The new four-inch iPhone is rumored to be a cross between the iPhone 5s and the iPhone 6.
It’s expected to feature an aluminum body and curved cover glass. It’s possible, though not yet confirmed, that the device will be offered in multiple colors like the iPod Touch. It’s also unclear whether the device will be powered by the A8 or A9 chip, though KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, one of the most reliable voices in the sphere of Apple commentary, thinks that Apple will use the same A9 chip that powers the iPhone 6s. If it does incorporate the A9 chip and a rumored 2GB of RAM, then its specifications would be on par with those of the iPhone 6s. The iPhone 6c could also include a 1,642mAh battery, an 8MP camera with f/2.2 maximum aperture, and NFC for Apple Pay, though it’s not expected to support 3D Touch.
4. iPad Air 3
As Clover points out, Apple has updated the iPad lineup every year since the iPad first launched in 2010. But in 2015, Apple didn’t upgrade the iPad Air 2, and instead released the new iPad Pro and the iPad mini 4. Clover thinks that that move, combined with Apple’s decision to give the iPad mini 2 a minor update in 2014, could signal that Apple intends to update the iPad on an 18-month or two-year schedule in the future.
Rumors have indicated that Apple is developing an iPad Air 3 and is planning to launch it during the first half of 2016. While we don’t know much about the third-generation iPad Air yet, it’s expected to include an updated processor, and possible upgrades to the device’s RAM and camera system. However, it isn’t likely to include 3D Touch due to known manufacturing issues with implementing the technology with a larger screen size.
5. MacBook Air
Apple’s laptop lineup is expected to see a number of updates in 2016. While it’s been suggested that the MacBook line will subsume the MacBook Air line, more recent rumors indicate that the MacBook Air will continue to exist alongside the Retina MacBook and the Retina MacBook Pro. The MacBook Air continues to be popular among consumers thanks to its low price point, and current rumors suggest that Apple will continue producing the MacBook Air, with plans to launch 13-inch and 15-inch MacBook Air models in the third quarter of 2016.
The redesign will likely bring a slimmer chassis, bigger screens, and Intel’s next-generation Skylake chips, which will offer 10% faster CPU performance, 34% faster graphics, and 1.4 hours of additional battery life compared to the Broadwell chips used in current MacBook Air models. Since there haven’t been many rumors about a new MacBook Air, it’s considered less of a sure thing than other expected product launches. MacRumors notes that supply chain information isn’t always accurate, and it’s possible that information about the MacBook Air could apply to the Retina MacBook Pro.
6. Retina MacBook Pro
Clover reports that over the past two years, Intel’s chip delays have had a significant impact on Apple’s Retina MacBook Pro release plans, resulting in staggered update timelines for the 13-inch and 15-inch models, which were last updated in March and May of 2015. The 13-inch model was updated with Broadwell chips, while the 15-inch model has continued to use Haswell processors.
Apple could release an updated 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro in early 2016 using the new chips, or it could bypass Broadwell chips altogether and opt for a Skylake update for both the 13-inch and 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro models. The appropriate chips will be released early in 2016, which means that the new MacBook Pro models could be introduced in the first few months of the year.
7. Retina MacBook
The Skylake chips that would be appropriate for an updated Retina MacBook are already available, which means that Apple could introduce the second-generation laptop anytime in 2016. While the new Core M chips offer an improved 10 hours of battery life and 10% to 20% faster CPU performance compared to the Broadwell chips used in the first-generation RetinaMacBook, Clover notes that the most notable upgrade in a Retina MacBook that uses Skylake chips would be graphics improvements, since the new chips offer up to 40% faster graphics performance.
Beyond the addition of new Skylake chips, it’s not yet known what other improvements Apple could implement in the second-generation Retina MacBook. Because the original Retina MacBook was introduced in April 2015, it’s likely that Apple will use the same chassis (but could add a Rose Gold color option to match the new Rose Gold iPhone 6s).
The iMac has also been impacted by the delays that affected Intel’s chips; current higher-end models are already using Skylake graphics, but lower-end models are still using Broadwell chips. Because the iMac lineup was refreshed in October 2015, it’s likely that we’ll see the next update late in 2016. It’s unclear what chips Apple is planning to use for the iMac, since Intel isn’t planning to release chips that would be appropriate for the lower-end iMacs.
9. New versions of major software
In addition to all of the new hardware that you can expect to see in 2016, you can also count on seeing new versions of Apple’s major software platforms. iOS 10 is expected to launch in September, possibly with significant design changes. There haven’t been many rumors about the features that iOS 10 will add, though we do have our own wishlist of features and apps already figured out.
OS X 10.12 is also due in September or October, and is likely to bring both design changes and new features. Apple Watch operating system watchOS 3 is expected to launch earlier in 2016, perhaps alongside the debut of the second-generation Apple Watch. It’s possible tvOS 10 could also come in the fall, perhaps alongside iOS 10.
10. Miscellaneous hardware updates
While devices like the iPhone and the Apple Watch get lots of attention when it comes to rumors and reports about Apple’s plans, other gadgets get a little less attention. But some of them could still be updated this year. A fifth-generation Apple TV and a second version of the iPad Pro, for instance, could appear in 2016, or possibly in 2017. Other gadgets that could appear this year include the iPad mini 5, a new Mac Pro, and a new Mac mini.