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What's up for Apple in 2012?

Ryan Faas | Dec. 30, 2011
2011 was a big year for Apple.

But Apple will also work to ensure that its systems are implemented and supported as effectively as possible. It will achieve that goal through partnerships with IT consulting firms, by offering training and educational resources, and by refocusing its existing set of certifications to address the needs of the market. Apple has already taken such steps with the new Mac Integration 10.7 certification for deploying Macs in Windows environments.

Apple's own efforts will be helped by the growing trend of companies allowing employees to use their own devices for work -- the bring-your-own-device (BYOD) movement -- and a tablet market that has yet to produce a true iPad competitor.

Embracing LTE and the A6 for next iPad/iPhone

Without a doubt, we'll see new iPads and iPhones in the coming year (and a real update to the iPod Touch). Those devices will be based around next-generation ARM processors. There will almost certainly be improvements to the iPad's screen, bringing it in line with the retina display of the iPhone (though maybe not to full parity when it comes to pixels per inch).

Likewise, there's little doubt that Apple will introduce LTE support. The question is more about whether Apple will offer separate 3G and LTE models of the iPad 3 and iPhone 5 (along the lines of the Verizon iPhone 4, which launched as separate GSM and CDMA handsets) or combine the technology in a single model.

The inclusion of near field communication (NFC) technology and support for mobile payments seems more in doubt. Obviously, Apple is proving that iPhones make great mobile payment systems via the self-checkout feature recently instituted by its retail stores. And it already has a user-payment mechanism in place through the iTunes Store. However, Apple sometimes waits on features (like LTE) until it feels they can work as flawlessly as possible. That could mean another year before NFC comes to iOS.

I strongly suspect that 2012 will also be the year when Apple begins to diversify iPad price points. The company isn't likely to introduce a 7-in. or limited-feature model, however. Instead, it will more likely follow the approach that it has used with the iPhone and continue producing past iterations and selling them at lower prices.

Siri evolves

It's a given that the iPhone 4S's virtual assistant, Siri, will improve and evolve throughout 2012. And there are a handful steps that Apple is sure to take to enhance the voice-controlled technology. For starters, we know that additional languages and localized results will be added in the coming months. We also know that Apple is amalgamating a lot of crowd-sourced data that will improve Siri's speech recognition and understanding of colloquial phrases. And it seems a sure thing that Apple will deploy Siri on a number of devices, including future iPads and iPod Touches (and potentially TVs, which I'll get to in a bit).


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