After the flurry of gear in January, this is the lull before the next storm – Apple’s spring event – but what do they have in store for us?
So, this year, Apple broke with tradition, and came out of the gates with a deluge of new devices…in January!
Although we have even seen actual events in January before, it’s certainly not the norm. And, of course, we didn’t get just one release last month, we got a boot full. M2 MacBook Pros, M2 Mac mini, and the new HomePod. Bam, bam, bam…they just kept coming…
But, after the January rush, and as the dust started to settle, we were all left wondering what on earth did Apple have left up their sleeve for the year ahead. And, more pressingly, what could we see at the spring event?
The spring event, I believe, is not yet a given – likely, but not a certainty. I think they want to at least have a teaser about the AR/VR headset ready to show off by that time. If they fall behind in the last moment preparations for it, it’s possible they may yet, cancel the spring event altogether. Those events don’t come cheap, and they will want to make sure that an in-person event, would warrant the effort.
Many of the items they could bring to the event, could just as easily be launched via a press release – and we’ll look at those in greater detail in just a moment.
Assuming they do forge ahead with the event, though, the likely dates for your diary are either Monday 20th/27th or Tuesday 21st/28th March. In other words, it could be in a little over a month until the first Apple event of the year.
Last year, Apple’s Peek Performance event was bristling – we saw iPhone SE, new colours for the iPhone 13, and the debuts of both the Mac Studio, and the Studio Display. The year before, there was the 24-inch iMac, Apple TV, and the first M1 iPad.
All the reports, and rumours coming out of Apple suggest that, this could be a pretty quiet year, as all possible resources are being pulled towards the final push on the headset.
A few weeks back, Bloombergs Mark Gurman agreed. Many of this year’s releases will simply be iterative, year-on-year improvements.
Audio-wise, we are done for the year. There are no upgrades anticipated to AirPods across the range, and the speaker line-up, for now, is complete. Apple Watch had its big moment last year with the Ultra. iMac continues to be forgotten, and your guess is as good as mine when it comes to iPad.
So, if Apple HQ swing open their doors in March, what can we expect, and can they match the heights of their recent, spring events?
Speculation has really ramped up over the past few days, and it appears that a 15-inch MacBook Air is on the way. Whilst the 15-inch model is new to the line-up, my guess is that we’ll also get a refreshed 13-inch at the same time.
With TMC now focusing their chip production on the 3nm technology, it could even be that we see both these machines released using the first of the M3 chips. In fact, the ever reliable Ross Young, tweeted this week, that he knows that the 15.2-inch MacBook is already in production – and Ross knows his onions!
You can listen to my podcast with Ross on Apple Podcasts here.
So, the new M3 MacBook Air’s could be lined up for a spring release, and I guess the only reason they now wouldn’t be, is if there were not enough M3 chips to meet the anticipated demand. It would make little sense to release a brand-new Air, with year-old technology inside.
iPhone sales need a shot in the arm, and Apple could inject new life in them at a spring event.
Holiday season sales were blighted at the end of last year, as supply was badly affected by the continued lockdowns in China. Premium phones were virtually unavailable through that period, and the regular iPhone 14 models have under-performed for the company.
Going back to iPhone 12, Apple has seen fit to give their current phone line-up, a mid-cycle pimp-up. The timing this year could be very handy. In 2021, we saw a purple colour for iPhone 12, and in ’22, Apple splashed the regular 13, and 13 Pros with new greens.
No SE is being talked about for this year, but colours would seem an obvious way to bolster, slower than anticipated iPhone sales during this cycle.
When are we finally going to get the missing piece of the Apple silicon transition puzzle?
It’s way overdue, and Apple really need to address it, and soon. The old Pro hasn’t been touched since December 2019, and is still running on Intel. Every other Mac has now been swapped out to their own, favoured, Apple silicon.
The new Mac Pro, has clearly been causing the company problems, as they have tried to decide how best to implement the new system-on-chip architecture, in to what is expected from the Mac Pro – namely, modularity.
For a time, there was speculation of a new M2 Extreme chip coming downline, to power their flagship Mac.
If the M2 Extreme had gone ahead, it would, essentially, have been four M2 Ultra chips. It was proving troublesome to develop, manufacture, and also prohibitively expensive, though. Being a niche Mac, it was hard for Apple to justify the resources required – it was just too demanding.
Due to the nature of the architecture, even on the Mac Pro, the RAM will not be user upgradeable. You’ll still have to decide, and configure that at the point of purchase, as the memory is tied directly to the M2 Ultra’s motherboard.
All sorts has been speculated, as to how it will look. Apple has almost shot themselves in the foot with how successful the Mac Studio has ended up being. To many, the Mac Studio, now fits nicely where the Mac Pro had once reigned supreme.
We think the outside case will look identical to the existing Mac Pro, but why it still needs to be so big, again, is hard to understand. Is just because Apple are going to push the M2 Ultra as hard as possible, and they want maximum cooling — who knows…
Again, I think the final release of the Mac Pro will now hinge on when the M3 chip is ready. Having waited so long, there would be no sense in bringing it to market with an already oldish chip in it.
A spring release, still seems likely, though.
Recently, I put my neck on the line, and said I think the headset will be called Apple Vision, not Reality Pro. The whole design of the headset is based around an evolution of television – thus Reality Vision seems to better reflect its use.
An entirely new OS has been developed for the Vision project. Apple know they have to make sure that the headset is easily integrated in to the rest of your ecosystem.
Beset by continued delays, we know that the release is imminent. And, as it gets closer to release, more, and more details are leaking out about it.
Being their first entirely new category since 2015, and Apple Watch, they know the heat is on, to get this product launch as right as possible. We now know there will be a waist-mounted battery pack, giving around two hours of use time.
It will be a totally handsfree experience, with no controller being either developed, or sold along with it.
There’ll be a digital crown, similar to that found on the Watch Ultra. That crown will take you in and out of VR/AR, with a simple, quick twist.
The front passthrough lenses’ll be made from some kind of a glass / plastic material, with sensors hidden around the edge of the screen. The world facing cameras will include LIDAR scanners, sky, and floor facing sensors. The lenses inside will be at least 4K per eye.
The Vision headset will be loaded with sensors, and cameras, and will utilise the finest materials around – even carbon fibre. It’ll be a costly, niche, premium product for sure, with a price that will doubtless reflect it. But, at last, there is not long to wait now.
Will it be ready for a spring event? With perfection being a pre-requisite, Apple will not be rushed so late in the day, but a spring showcase, would seem a great fit.
Showing it off early in the year, would then give developers time to catch up with app development. Actual release to the public would come later in the year – probably around October or November.
The year ahead for Apple is all centred around the headset. Every resource they have is involved, in some way or another, with it.
This year’s iOS development is behind, and who’s to say the delay on the Mac Pro, could not in some way be linked back to the headset as well.
It’s because of the Vision headset, that this year will be fairly quiet for any other major new releases. Their focus will be on solely getting that headset launch off the ground smoothly.
Even the spring event to some degree hinges on it. Honestly, given the final design of the Mac Pro, and colours for the iPhone, those could be released via Apple’s press team, no problems at all.
The 15-inch MacBook Air would warrant an in-person release, but it is not an event by itself.
2023 – the year of Apple’s headset – everything relies on it!
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