The beginning of each new year has pundits predicting what we should see in the mobile space in the new year. Rather than add to the flood of predictions I am concentrating on sharing what I hope to see from each major player in mobile. Apple is continuing to dominate the mobile tech world but I hope to see a few things from them in 2013.
Apple now has a lot of competition in the tablet space but the iPad continues to sell in the millions. Last year saw the introduction of the iPad with a Retina Display and the iPad mini without it. The latter is selling as fast as Apple can produce them even lacking the Retina Display, up to 12 million according to CNET.
Whatever Apple comes up with for the new iPhone I hope it's not NFC. While NFC technology is cool it's not important to the vast majority of mainstream consumers.
I know I am not alone in hoping that Apple puts a Retina Display in the next iteration of the iPad mini likely to appear this year. The first model is not bad but it's just not as good as the bigger iPad or the iPhone due to the lack of the Retina Display. Even if it requires a slightly higher price I feel Apple needs to do it to level the display technology across its entire mobile line. I am confident that even at a higher price Apple will sell a lot of iPad minis with Retina Displays.
There's not much that needs changing on the bigger iPad but I would like to see Apple add one feature that is missing. I find the iPad to be very useful when used with an external keyboard. While there are a number of third party keyboards available, I wish Apple would produce its own for the iPad.
All of the third party keyboards connect to the iPad via Bluetooth, and while that works fine it technically renders them useless on flights. I know it's common for iPad owners to use them on flights anyway but at some point flight crews are going to realize that's a no-no.
Apple should make a keyboard/ cover with a magnetic connector similar to that of the Microsoft Surface that doesn't require Bluetooth. The cover should be thin and light but should have real keys unlike the Surface Touch Cover which doesn't work as well as a real keyboard. A connector on the iPad could also be used for a variety of other peripherals such as laptop docks.
The iPhone 5 is selling well but Apple needs to surprise us with something special in this year's iPhone. I don't have a suggestion as to what that should be, but Apple has enough bright people to come up with something innovative. It needs to be something to give the iPhone a big jump forward and not just an incremental improvement over the iPhone 5.
Whatever Apple comes up with for the new iPhone I hope it's not NFC. While NFC technology is cool it's not important to the vast majority of mainstream consumers. It won't give enough wow factor to push the iPhone forward.
Apple can get that wow factor needed with either software or hardware or even better with both. Give us something unexpected and useful as they have done in the past.
The introduction of the 15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina Display followed by the smaller 13-inch model raised the bar for laptops. The special display is not offered by anyone but Apple making the MacBook Pro the top of the line.
The problem with these MacBook Pros can be summed up in one word: price. These laptops are horribly expensive making them a difficult purchase decision. I readily admit that top-of-the-line gear should be top dollar but in today's market it's hard to justify $2,000 - $3,000 for a laptop. I am due for a new laptop but I can't bring myself to pay that kind of money for one, and I know I am not alone.
Hopefully this year Apple finds a way to lower the prices across the board for MacBooks with Retina Displays. The prices are so high that the standard "upgrade the hardware for the same price" will not work this year. The prices need to drop a fair amount to get the MacBook Pros into a lot of hands.
The MacBook Air is now the entry level model for Apple and it is competitive in the market. What would be cool would be a 13-inch MacBook Air with a Retina Display if Apple can pull that off without affecting the size or heat generated. It will be tough to do, especially while keeping the price in a reasonable range. I would be quick to upgrade if Apple could pull it off and I believe millions would join me.
The next version of iOS, likely named iOS 7, needs to add more new functionality than recent versions of the OS. While incremental upgrades are often good enough it's time to see new features to compete better with Android.
One feature I would love to see in iOS 7, particularly for the iPad, is the ability to display two apps running side-by-side in landscape. It would be useful to be able to do this with any two apps, but if that's too big a hurdle then Apple should do this for its own apps.
This isn't new by any means, Samsung has been doing it with Android and Microsoft has included the feature with Windows 8. It's very useful on both of those platforms and would be great on iOS.
The side-by-side display should at least put each app in its own half of the screen, or even better let the user resize each app's display as better fits the application. Imagine having the Safari browser on one side of the display and Pages on the other for research projects.
Apple no doubt has new stuff percolating in some secret room in Cupertino and I hope these things make it. They will make its products even more useful to me than they are now and advance Apple's products nicely.