NEWS: 04.20.20- Apple has released three new products to-date in 2020 and according to various reports across the web, a number of other hardware, devices, and accessories in the works by the Cupertino, California-based company are still in store scheduled for release between now and the end of the year.
In a report last week from the business and financial news outlet, Bloomberg, it was revealed by people familiar with the matter — aside from specific details learned in regard to the annual refresh of the iPhone lineup (expected to be due out sometime in the Fall) — that Apple will be releasing an update to one of its audio products while introducing a totally brand new device to its offerings (the latter of which will compete with a similar gadget already out on the market).
So far this year, Apple has released three new products: a fourth generation iPad Pro, a second revision of its third generation MacBook Air, and a second generation iPhone SE (the latter of which was just announced last Wednesday).
**AD: for the lowest prices and latest deals and discounts on Apple products, including the new iPad Pro, MacBook Air, and iPhone SE, consult the price trackers on MacPrices.
As far as the forthcoming product lineup from Apple for 2020 is concerned, per Bloomberg, based on information from people familiar with the plans (who asked the business and financial news outlet not to identify them by name as the details were not to be made public), this year’s successors to the iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max will be joined by two lower-end models to replace the iPhone 11. The company, according to people who have seen prototypes of the two products, also has been developing a smaller and cheaper version of its HomePod smart speaker (to be released as early as this year), and new devices dubbed “Apple Tags” (which will let users track objects such as keys and wallets).
According to the people with knowledge of the upcoming Apple smartphones, in addition to sporting updated 5G connectivity, all of the new iPhone models are planned to include a significant upgrade to its processor (an A14 chip) with an emphasis on improving the speed and performance of tasks which utilize artificial intelligence (AI) and augmented reality (AR).
Photography-wise, three cameras will be included on the back of the two high-end new iPhones while the lower-end phones will continue to have two cameras (just as the current lineup does). Apple also will be adding the 3D LIDAR scanner system — a technology that debuted with the fourth generation iPad Pro that was released a month ago in March of this year — to its top-tier smartphones, which, according to Bloomberg, will set the stage for advances in AR apps.
The people also divulged to Bloomberg that the upcoming Pro models of the iPhone will be similar in design, but not in size, to the iPhone 5 from 2012, with flat glass panels instead of a curved design as well as stainless steel and leveled, rather than sloping, edges. Plus, the new phones will have more sharply rounded corners like those of the second generation iPad Pro from 2018. Furthermore, the highest-end Apple smartphone model is set to have a display slightly larger than the 6.5-inch screen currently found on the iPhone 11 Pro Max.
Apple also, per the business and financial news outlet, is likely to reduce the size of the so called, notch, with this year’s models.
Bloomberg reported that the company is investigating removing the cutout at the top of the display for the Face ID sensors and front-facing camera in future designs.
On Apple’s smart speaker, people familiar with the device told the business and financial news outlet that the new HomePod — which has been in development for several months and has faced many delays — will be about half the size of the original model while keeping a similar design. Bloomberg reported that Apple is targeting a release for the audio product in the second half of this year.
Bloomberg noted that while the HomePod largely has been seen as a failure in terms of sales, its superior sound quality remains a competitive advantage over much lower-priced smart speakers from rivals Amazon and Google, and, lowering its cost would help Apple to compete better against those companies’ devices. Also, according to the business and financial news outlet, the HomePod’s comparative lack of success has been attributed to its narrower compatibility with other smart home / audio products, music streaming services outside of Apple Music, and the limited functionality of Apple’s AI-based virtual assistant, Siri.
Aside from hiring a team to revamp its smart home product efforts, according to the business and financial news outlet, Apple is planning to add additional music streaming services to its HomePod and has been acquiring AI startups to help it improve Siri on the device.
A totally brand new product forthcoming from Apple, though not its own innovation, are the wireless tracking devices dubbed by the sources of Bloomberg as “Apple Tags” — officially referred to as AirTags by the company itself in a support video on its YouTube channel on the web (one that since has been taken down) — which will offer functionality much like gadgets already on the market like Tile trackers. According to the people who spoke to the business and financial news outlet, the device will be bundled with an Apple-designed leather sleeve and a keychain to attach it to objects.
The business and financial news outlet reported that the thin, small, and puck-shaped wireless tracking devices from Apple have been in development for over 12 months and are planned for release as early as this year.
One other audio product, a new wearable accessory that Apple hitherto has been purported to be working on for quite some time now, are a pair of wireless high end over-the-ear headphones — yet to be given a name — which reportedly will be a third model to complement the AirPods and AirPods Pro lineup.
Last month, the Apple-centric news website, 9to5Mac, reported that it had discovered a leak in the code from a beta version of iOS 14 which revealed a first look at the design of Apple’s high end over-the-ear headphones. Notable from the discovery were two icons in the as yet to be released mobile operating system which were used to represent light and dark versions of the new wearable accessory, found alongside the battery and charging status indicators.
Each icon, aside from giving an idea of the two colors that possibly will be available — white and black (or space gray) — also gave an idea of the size of each headphone and the amount of padding on each cup and band.
According to 9to5Mac, the Apple-branded high end over-the-ear headphones — which reportedly will have AirPods-like features — were rumored to be released in 2018, however, per initial reports from Apple’s supply chain, design issues were the reason for the delay. The website reported that despite the company missing the original launch window, one renowned Apple analyst advised investors in January of this year that the new wearable accessory was expected to ship sometime in 2020.
In a separate report last Thursday following its initial one from last Monday, Bloomberg reported as well that Apple was developing high end over-the-ear headphones with previously undisclosed details which revealed that the new wearable accessory will have interchangeable parts. According to people familiar with the matter (who asked not to be identified since they were discussing products that have not been announced yet), the company is working on at least two variations: a premium version with leather-like fabrics and a fitness focused model that uses lighter breathable materials with small perforations.
Prototypes of the new wearable accessory have a retro look with oval-shaped ear cups that swivel and a headband connected by thin metal arms which stem from the top of the ear cups rather than the sides. The ear pads and headband padding attach magnetically to the frame of the over-the-ear headphones so they can be replaced by the user.
Bloomberg reported that this approach by Apple is more modular design-wise, and, based on the information given by the people who spoke with the business and financial news outlet, will allow users to customize the new wearable accessory (e.g., like one can do with the Apple Watch). The design may also mean the same set of over-the-ear headphones would be able to be converted between comfort and fitness use then back again due to its interchangeable parts.
According to people familiar with the progress of the new wearable accessory, the over-the-ear headphones have been in development since at least 2018 — corroborating the earlier report from 9to5Mac — and its launch already has been postponed at least twice.
Per the business and financial news outlet, in addition to the AirPods and AirPods Pro, the high end over-the-ear headphones are part of a broader audio products strategy by the company that also includes the HomePod. Bloomberg reported that Apple aims to unveil the new wearable accessory later this year.
In a Macworld magazine article published on its website just days before the previously referenced initial report from last Monday by Bloomberg, contributor Dan Moren shared details about new Apple products that were known to be coming soon — the unnamed high end over-the-ear headphones, the upcoming AirTags, and the second generation iPhone SE (the latter of which, at the time, had yet to be announced) — based on leaks from various sources. According to the writer, despite valiantly trying to keep its cards close to its chest, eagle-eyed enthusiasts have been poring over everything from support documents to underlying code (e.g., beta versions of MacOS or iOS) in order to find hints about what the Cupertino, California-based company’s next project will be.
“Apple’s not quite the den of secrecy it once was, so we have a pretty good idea of at least a few products to expect,” wrote Moren.
“The Apple of today is not the Apple of yesteryear. In the Steve Jobs era, secrecy over future products was an obsession, and while the company still likes to keep tight-lipped, it seems sometimes as though it’s so large and working on so many different things, that information about those products can’t help but leak out, like mustard from an overfull sandwich.”
Bloomberg also reported last week in its initial report that Apple currently is working on other new products based on information revealed by the people familiar with the company’s product roadmap: hardware and devices from a new Apple TV and iMac, to refreshed budget models of the iPad, and — most notably — a brand new version of the MacBook Pro (possibly a rumored 14-inch model with a mini-LED display as first revealed in early March by the website MacRumors).