A Byte of Apple : 11 Predictions for 2011!

(image courtesy flickr user korosirego)

Man, what an #epic #win year it’s been for Apple! Poor-antenna-PR aside, pretty much everything the folks from Cupertino launched hit gold in 2010, whether it was the refreshed take on the iPods or the iPhone or the all new iPad, which spawned an almost dysenteric flow of Android tablets for the rest of the year! Not to forget the impossibly thin(ner) MacBook Air, which points to the future of how Apple notebooks will be. Think about it – a Jan. 27 iPad announcement, then the April 8 iOS 4 preview followed by the June 7 WWDC launch of the iPhone 4, and then the Sept. 1 iPod updates and finally…closing out the year with the Oct. 20 ‘Back to the Mac’ announcements! Phew!

As A Byte of Apple wraps up on 2010, it is the season for speculation about what the next year will bring for Apple. Our takes on these usually go ten deep, but in the giving spirit of the season, we’ve thrown in one extra for no additional cost! Here are our 11 for 2011…

(image courtesy flickr user traftery)

iPad 2: That there will be an iPad 2 is a foregone conclusion. The iPad has ended the year lining many Christmas stockings despite the looming fear of a new one hitting as soon as the first quarter in 2011. So how can Apple better the iPad 2 to fend off the credible challenge that the BlackBerry PlayBook and others of its ilk will pose in 2011?

  • A front-facing camera for FaceTime is all but a given, as is a sleeker and lighter design, possible one with tapered edges a la the current gen iPod touch. The design changes may just force the speaker grille to the rear of the device, allowing for a better speaker to be packed in as well. A Retina Display on the iPad looks unlikely if Apple is to preserve the price point.
  • Word also has it that Apple may look to ship three versions of the updated tablet, adding a CDMA model to the already available Wi-Fi and 3G.
  • And as absurd as sounds to Apple observers, it’s been rumored by Eldar Murtazin that the iPad2 will feature a USB port or USB host capabilities, possibly to allow access to files on portable USB sticks and the like.

(image courtesy flickr user gonzalobaeza)

iPhone circa 2011: Will it be the iPhone 5, or the iPhone 4G (which is what a whole lot of folks calls the iPhone 4 anyway!) to reflect its possible love for 4G LTE networks, more so with a deal with US carrier Verizon in the works?

  • Nomenclature aside, expect the next gen iPhone to possibly try a whole new form factor to quash any ugly signal issues from resurfacing – there’re a whole gang of folks post the iPhone 4 signal debacle who’re just looking to keep Apple honest.
  • Specs will be boosted as well, with the next gen iPhone and iPad sporting a processor whose power at least matches Qualcomm’s 1.5GHz dual-core Snapdragon processor.
  • NFC, already a term being bandied about much with the Google Nexus S’ adoption, will probably feature in the next gen iPhone. Initial use may allow you to turn the iPhone 5 into a passcode-protected electronic wallet or security passkey, one that would communicate via the short-range wireless technology to other compatible devices. In the long term, it may communicate with NFC-equipped Macs to allow you to start using any Mac as if you were using your home or office Mac.
  • And if you’ve been following the patent circuits, Apple has recently acquired the patent for a glass-less stereoscopic 3D display system, which may just find its way onto the next gen iPhone.
  • 2011 may just be the year that Apple’s iOS devices will top the list of targets for malware and hackers. 2010 saw a browser-based jailbreak for the iPhone 4, will a more serious flaw be exposed in 2011?

(image courtesy flickr user procsilas)

Macs: With the late 2010 launch of the MacBook Air and the early January launch of the Mac App Store, the momentum will see heightened expectations for Mac units next year.

  • Will flash storage become the norm in all Apple notebooks, as the success of the Air would suggest? It’ll all come down to the volume deals Apple can strike with SSD suppliers, but if the 2010 Air is anything to go by, expect the 2011 family of Macs to be blisteringly fast.
  • Battery life discussions took prominence in 2010 with the extremely capable 5-7 hour battery life on the MacBook Pros and the downright insane 10-11 hours from the iPad. Apple’s battery life calculations tended to be very conservative this past year, a refreshing change from industry practices, but the performance increase was clearly down to their secret sauce – innovative battery management and longer-lasting batteries. Expect much better stuff on this front next year.
  • With Intel’s early 2011 launch of LightPeak, a technology that will pave the way for 10Gbps connections to your peripherals, Apple may just forge the path by adopting LightPeak in the 2011 Macs, bypassing USB 3.0 entirely.

What’s your take? Will a white iPhone ever show up? Will Macs go mass-market? Will Apple launch an iScreen and make a serious play for the living room beyond the Apple TV? Will the much-awaited cloud-based iTunes hit? Or… is there a “one more thing” coming from Steve Jobs? Let us know in the comments! Any which you look at it, 2011 cant come soon enough!

(image courtesy flickr user themaddy)