What Apple has in store for 2022: AN ARM desktop, an iPhone without a mouth, and more
2021 could be the calm before the storm.
Aside from a few new Apple Silicon Macs, 2021 was a quiet year for Apple. The new iPhone has improved camera and battery life but is otherwise nearly identical to the 2020 model. Aside from a slight change in screen size, the new Apple Watch is virtually indistinguishable from its predecessor.
As 2021 draws to a close and we look ahead to 2022, it's a safe bet that next year will be even more interesting. So we have some predictions to share.
We're not 100 percent sure about any of our predictions for what's to come, and of course, as you know, apples are a mysterious animal. For all its caution, Apple has at times been fairly predictable in the era of Tim Cook. Over the past few years, there have been more leaks about Apple's plans than ever before.
With all that said, here are some of our expectations for Apple over the next 12 months.
The dramatic end to the Mac chip shift
The core story of Apple 2021 is one of anticipation. Apple announced and released its first Apple silicon processors in 2020 and promised to transition its entire Mac line from Intel to Apple silicon processors within two years.
We saw the impact of the M1 chip on Apple's low-end Macs in late 2020, and Apple shared some bold claims with us about what we can expect from high-end laptops like the MacBook Pro.
And then we waited...For months. Apple released the M1 instead of the 21.5-inch iMac, but the MacBook Pro and more powerful desktops like the larger iMac and Mac Pro are all anyone wants to know.
At the end of the year, Apple made good on its promise with the launch of its excellent M1 Pro and M1 Max MacBook Pro laptops. But the 27-inch iMac and Mac Pro -- traditionally Apple's toughest and most powerful machines -- still use Intel chips.
That will change in 2022, according to apple's previous two-year roadmap.
As you may have heard, Apple is coming out with a 30-inch iMac to replace its existing silicon-powered iMac.The iMac could be built into the MacBook Pro's M1 Pro or M1 Max, or (less likely) a second-generation successor.
As for the Mac Pro, a recent report in The Information says it will use processors from the M1 family (possibly based on the M1 Max). It will have two molds instead of one, providing a potential dual-core.
With the M1 Pro/M1 Max specification upgraded to the high-end Mac Mini, this will essentially complete the transition from Intel to Apple silicon. Only a few stragglers, such as the 13-inch MacBook Pro, will continue to use Intel products.
In addition, Apple is said to be working on a complete redesign of the MacBook Air with a second-generation entry-level chip, possibly called M2. The redesigned device could simply be called the MacBook.
All of this is expected in 2022, so it's going to be a big year for the Mac.
A major iPhone redesign
A new iPhone is coming in 2022 -- no surprise, right? In addition to the usual flagship product updates, we may see an updated iPhone SE.
But perhaps the most important news is that the flagship phone is getting a major redesign this fall. Part of the redesign could be to get rid of the Lightning port.
If Apple hadn't already introduced USB-C on its flagship iPhone, I don't think it would. The 2020 redesign will be the time to do so.
That's because I believe (and I have no inside knowledge -- it's just what I've learned about Apple over the last few years) that Apple hasn't moved from Lightning to USB-C yet. After all, it's going to skip USB-C entirely and go straight to the no-end, wirelessly charged iPhone.
Beyond that, when consumers survey their smartphone preferences, expect them to continue to emphasize larger screens and better cameras -- two of the top three things consumers want most (battery life).
Apple is also likely to unveil an alternative to the facial recognition system that has been in use on its flagship iPhone since late 2017. Face ID was a great idea, and although it was difficult at first, it ended up being just as convenient and effective as Touch ID. But in the end, the world of masks makes them look far less attractive than any other alternative.