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Beyond the iPhone: what to expect from Apple in 2021

Six big products Apple could reveal over the next 12 months

We all know new iPhones are going to arrive later this year. But what other gadgets will Apple release to relieve you of cash?

This article kicks off by exploring the company’s plans for the iPad and Mac, before examining a pair of less essential but still nice-to-have products, and finishes with two long shots we’d love to see.

The dead certs

New iPads are all but guaranteed. Although Apple’s tablets don’t have quite the clockwork release cycle of the iPhone, most are updated every year to 18 months. Rumors suggest a new iPad Pro is in the works, which would ensure Apple’s flagship keeps ahead of the latest iteration of the iPad Air.

But we’re interested to see what Apple does at the other end of the range. The Home button can’t be long for this world, and freeing up that space on the diminutive iPad mini would be a game-changer. Imagine an all-screen mini, with a larger display and none of the heft of its siblings. We’d wave goodbye to Kindle forever.

We hope the revamped iPad Air’s design language comes to the iPad mini in 2021.

More M1 Macs are undoubtedly on the way. Apple kicked off an ambitious transition from Intel chips to its own in 2020, with revised MacBook Air, MacBook Pro and Mac mini models. They looked identical to their predecessors, but once you fired them up, these Macs were hugely performant, leaving Intel equivalents in the dust.

Don’t expect Apple to be so conservative this year. Pro-oriented machines will get significant redesigns and yet more powerful innards as Apple aims to capitalize on the benefits of making even more Mac components itself. We’re particularly excited to discover what Apple does with the iMac, and hope to see a refined design that slims the bezel, removes the chin, and adds Face ID.

The nice-to-haves

A revamped Apple TV is long overdue. Although Apple appears invested in television content, its hardware hasn’t kept pace with industry trends. The A8 chip in the Apple TV HD lags behind Apple’s mobile hardware – and even the A10X in the Apple TV 4K struggles with Apple Arcade games.

Moreover, when compared to the competition, Apple TV appears overpriced. Roku and Amazon boxes do much the same job for a fraction of the price; and at the lower end of the market, anyone interested only in streaming TV is catered for by plug-in sticks rather than relatively bulky boxes. Of course, Apple has no interest in selling cheap products – but right now, Apple TV is aging hardware with a premium price. At least one of those things needs to change.

Apple’s flagship Apple TV hasn’t been updated in over three years.

AirTags are Apple’s long-rumored take on Bluetooth tracking devices akin to Tile. You’d attach one of the circular tags to important items like your keys, and be able to easily find them using the Find My app. Code buried in recent versions of iOS suggests Apple would draw on its AR expertise to make item rediscovery even simpler.

The basic tech has other ramifications too. For example, if AirTag was integrated into the Apple TV remote, that would make it much harder to lose. It also has uses for remote items, such as luggage. If your bag went astray, someone else with an iPhone would be able to access and use your contact details to reunite you with your property.

The long shots

A 5K display from Apple is something many people have long craved. The thinking is Apple might sell an iMac without the Mac bit. You’d think others would offer this, but only LG sells a 27in display with the sharpness found in Apple’s iMac screen – and that unit’s form factor is on the wobbly side.

In truth, an Apple 5K display is unlikely to arrive during 2021, given that the rumors say Apple’s in early development. We shouldn’t expect it to be cheap either – merely less than the wallet-punching $4999/£4599 Pro Display XDR. But as a companion to a new Mac mini – or an iPad that finally takes full advantage of a widescreen display – it would be just about perfect.

Apple’s Pro XDR display. Gorgeous. Expensive.

Apple Glasses have been rumored for several years, and an analyst claims 2021 will see Apple’s first dedicated AR device made available for sale. But why would you want a pair, and what would they do?

In short, imagine existing AR apps, but instead of them being limited to the window of your iPhone or iPad’s screen, they would potentially fill your entire field of vision. This would mean constant and (literally) in-your-face notifications, information access, and guidance when walking.

Presumably, Siri would be the main method of interaction – we can’t imagine people would take too kindly to jerking their head around to trigger events via gestures. Devoted Apple fans get called headbangers enough as it is.