1) AN ELECTRIC (AND SELF-DRIVING?) CAR
An Apple car is probably the most audacious and unexpected thing on this list, and yet surprisingly, it’s been widely reported on. What’s more, CEO Tim Cook isn’t even denying it. Rumours caught fire in early 2015, claiming that Apple had hundreds of people working on an electric car known as Project Titan, and the hits kept coming.
Uncovered emails suggested that Apple was looking for a facility to test self-driving cars – potentially a later goal after launching an initial electric car – and a report said that Apple had “committed” to the project and aimed to finalise it by 2019. More recently, the project lead reportedly left, but Apple supposedly has more and more people working on Titan, and potentially loads of cash invested.
2) A STREAMING TV SERVICE
For years, Apple was rumoured to be creating its own streaming TV service to complement its set-top box, and the rumors flared up again in 2015. Reports said that Apple would cobble together a cheaper package of channels like Sling TV or PlayStation Vue, and sell it for much less than the average cable or satellite subscription.
But the plan hit some snags, it seems: channel operators pushed back, and wouldn’t give Apple the prices it wanted to be able to deliver cheap bundles. Still, Les Moonves, CEO of American broadcast network CBS, seems confident: “This will happen,” he said in December 2015.
3) A SMART RING
Will the Apple Watch beget the Apple Ring? We’re not counting on it, but Apple is at least looking into the possibility. A patent application uncovered in late 2015 shows “devices and methods for a ring computing device,” and the illustrations shown are indeed for a wearable device with a screen that sits on your finger.
The touchscreen could be used to interact with the Apple Watch, even, but unless you’re a die-hard fan of wearables, chances are that you don’t need two of them on at any given time. Would anyone? Apple might try to find out, if the application is any indication.
4) GOODBYE, OLD HEADPHONES?
Here’s the one rumour on this list that almost nobody seems to want to come true: multiple reports have claimed that Apple plans to pull the 3.5mm headphone port from the upcoming iPhone 7, which is expected out later this year.
Why do such a thing? Well, it would supposedly allow Apple to make even thinner devices going forward, and a report from February claimed that the iPhone 7 could also see a second speaker tossed in. But the idea of having to use Lightning-connected earbuds or Bluetooth headphones isn’t sitting well with a lot of people. Will Apple really make this gamble?
5) CORDLESS BEATS EARBUDS
If Apple really does ditch the headphone port on the iPhone, the company has a potentially sweet deal to offer: totally cordless Beats earbuds, which are not only wirelessly connected via Bluetooth, but also lack a cord between the buds themselves.
It’s said to be like Motorola’s Moto Hint headset, albeit doubled, likely also coming with some sort of battery case to charge them on the go when not in use. However, these certainly won’t be a pack-in with the phone: you’ll probably pay at least a couple of hundred quid for them.
6) An OLED iPhone
Big into deep blacks and power savings? Of course you are – and so too may be Apple. While the company already uses OLED screens on the Apple Watch, the technology is rumoured to be moving over to the iPhone in 2017.
However, it might be limited to just the iPhone 7s Plus model next year, if true, to allow Apple to ramp up its supply chain while providing a perk to buyers of the pricier devices. The Nikkei report says that Apple is likely to use a flat OLED screen for the first-generation model, but that the company could look into curved options down the line.
An even newer report says Apple may revamp the iPhone in 2017 alongside the OLED addition, and put a 5.8in display on the Plus instead of 5.5in. Hope they make it more grippable, too!
7) The Apple Watch 2
It’s been a year since the Apple Watch came out, so where’s the sequel? Check back this autumn. Although the Apple Watch 2 was rumoured for a spring launch, we heard earlier this year that a debut alongside the coming iPhone 7 this autumn was much more likely.
There’s still time for changes, but very early reports suggest refinement for the second Watch rather than a revolution: a similar look and feel, but perhaps a thinner (and also brighter) screen to accommodate a larger battery within. Another report suggests Apple could release optional smart bands for the second Watch to to bring in more health and fitness functionality.
8) Built-in iPhone joystick
Apple’s appreciation for games has seemed begrudging at best over the years, but the immense success of mobile gaming has surely made the company take note. But would Apple really build a gaming-specific hardware function into the iPhone?
It seems far-fetched, yet a patent application shows a concept for a pop-out home button that turns into a physical analog stick. Essentially, you’d push in the standard home button and it would emerge from the flat surface, giving you a proper directional stick for moving characters, steering cars, etc. Sounds like a neat idea, but also a feature ripe for added repair woes – and very unlike Apple too.
9) Siri for Mac
Here’s another rumour that has popped up here and there over the years, only to disappoint – but now, it might finally come true. Apple’s voice assistant is finally headed to Mac, says reliable Apple leaker 9to5Mac, and it should happen with OS X 10.12 later this year.
According to the site, Apple has been testing Siri on desktop since 2012, but the company only recently worked out how to make the implementation truly worthwhile. Siri will be accessible via voice and keyboard shortcuts, along with a clickable home in the Menu Bar. Maybe Apple was inspired by Cortana in Windows 10…
10) A dual-camera iPhone
Could the iPhone get double vision? That’s the rumour, as Sony’s dual-camera tech is said to hit smartphones starting in 2017, and Apple is reportedly mulling the addition for the iPhone 7s Plus next year. It could further differentiate the flagship iPhone models, adding another perk for the heavier spenders.
Apple has been developing its own software and systems for such an addition: a patent filing found in January showed that having two back cameras would allow for better zooming, or perhaps create the option of simultaneous picture-in-picture video shooting.
Last year, Apple acquired LinX, a company that specializes in using multiple cameras to create SLR-like photos on smartphones, so that talent could be put to good use on a coming iPhone.
11) VR or AR hardware
Tim Cook lobbed a compliment at virtual reality in January, and the internet went wild with speculation. Days later, The Financial Times offered some level of affirmation: the site claimed that Apple had a team of hundreds of people building virtual and augmented reality headset prototypes.
Apple has acquired several companies with software or hardware that could play into a VR or AR push, and also reportedly brought on staffers who had worked on compatible tech for Microsoft and Lytro. It seems like almost every other major tech company has a VR or AR offering on the horizon, so what is Apple’s play here? An iPhone-based solution, as seen in the patent image above? We’ll probably find out before too long.
12) Wireless iPhone charging
Will Apple finally embrace wireless charging for the iPhone? Recent reports suggest it will happen in 2017 with the iPhone 7s, or whatever Apple’s next next iPhone is called. A report in January said that Apple is working with suppliers to line up wireless charging for next year for not only iPhones, but also iPads.
And then recently, an analyst suggested that next year’s iPhone – which he believes will be significantly redesigned and feature glass backing – will incorporate wireless charging, as well. But we’ve heard this rumour before, so we’ll have to wait and see how it pans out.
13) A weatherproof iPhone
Apple quietly made the iPhone 6s its most water-resistant phone to date, thanks to an internal adhesive lining, but there could be more advancements ahead. A report back in December claimed that the next iPhone will be waterproof and hide the antenna lines, but there’s an even more intriguing patent application to examine.
That application, also discovered in December, shows Apple’s concept for “self-healing” rubber port enclosures, which split apart when you insert a headphone jack or Lightning cable. When removed, they expand back to their normal shape, thus closing up the holes. That could make the iPhone weatherproof and protect against water and dust, if true.
14) Contorting Apple Watch bands
We already have a fair number of Apple Watch band choices, but this one could add a truly functional boost to the smartwatch. A patent application discovered early this year shows a magnetic, contorting band that serves a couple of unique purposes.
In one form, it can be used to cover the screen of the Watch, which is perfect for keeping it scratch-free when in your pocket or a bag. And it can also be rolled in a way that keeps the Watch upright when on a nightstand or desk, eliminating the need for a dock.
Lastly, the magnets mean you can attach the Watch to a fridge or metal cabinet when you need to take it off to do the dishes or other grunt work. It didn’t debut with the other new bands this spring, so maybe we’ll see it with the Apple Watch 2 this autumn.
15) A Touch ID touchscreen
Apple’s Touch ID really set in motion the whole trend of mobile fingerprint sensors, but who needs a button when you can have the entire screen? That’s what a patent application discovered in early 2015 suggests, as Apple could build the fingerprint recognition technology directly into an iPhone or iPad screen.