Apple’s September Event brought with it plenty of reveals: three new iPhones, an always-on Apple Watch, and (surprisingly reasonable) pricing details for Apple TV+ and Apple Arcade. But prices aside, it was hard to shake the feeling that there are no real surprises left at these events, with the iPhone update solid but underwhelming and many other changes feeling pretty by-the-book.
Part of the blame, of course, is on the culture of leaks and rumors that surrounds the build-up to these events – something which we are somewhat guilty of perpetuating in sharing every aspect of the news cycle with you! Apple used to shroud its announcements in a layer of secrecy that meant its reveals packed a real punch. But when headline features like a three-camera system are reliably leaked beforehand, it leaves us short of surprises.
In fact, there were plenty of things we expected that never saw the light of day at the event – Apple left us feeling like the things it didn’t reveal were almost more important than the things it did. There was lots we were either expecting to see on stage this month, or were at least hoping might be revealed. Here, then, are the most notable announcements that never were.
A more Pro iPhone Pro
There were a bunch of “Pro-level” features rumored before the event that never came to fruition. Though none of them were shoe-ins, it’s a shame we didn’t get to see certain additions to help justify the extra cost of the iPhone 11 Pro.
For example, Apple Pencil support would have been a big one for iPhone users, though perhaps Apple plans to keep this exclusive to the iPad – especially as Steve Jobs once said that he would consider any phone with a stylus a failure.
We’d also love to see “bilateral charging” come to the iPhone, a feature that allows one device to wirelessly charge another. Meaning you could drop your AirPods case on the back of your iPhone to give it some extra juice.
Since iPad Pro made the leap to USB-C, matching the connector on recent MacBooks, it has been assumed iPhone would ditch the Lightning port and follow suit at some point. One charger for all your Apple kit sounds appealing, but for now at least you can keep hold of your existing Lightning accessories. No USB-C this year.
Finally, some Android devices have already started including 5G modems to support the upcoming ultra-fast cellular technology. However, with 5G not rolling out until next year – and even then, in fairly limited fashion – it’s no real surprise that Apple is sticking with 4G another year.
A bigger, better MacBook
Many MacBook users have been waiting for a redesign ever since Apple introduced the under-used Touch Bar and breakage-prone Butterfly Keyboard three years ago.
Rumor has it, Apple is readying a new 16-inch MacBook Pro which will make several design changes– including a return to the beloved old style of keyboards. This, along with beefed-up internal specs and a larger-than-ever display, could be enough to convince swathes of consumers to upgrade their laptop.
However, it seems the 16-inch MacBook Pro isn’t quite ready for the prime time yet, though it could still make an appearance next month if Apple follows history and puts on another event in October.
A way to find your keys and wallet
Another big rumor that’s been swirling around lately is that Apple has developed its own Tile-like tracking device. Apple Tag, as it’s said to be called, would help users keep tabs on their possessions in the Find My app, much in the same way that tracking a lost iPhone or iPad works already.
Stick an Apple Tag in your backpack, on your keyring, or even on your bike, and you’ll be able to keep tabs on those things even when you forget where you left them.
These tiny Bluetooth-enabled trackers would be a welcome addition to Apple’s lineup of accessories, but they were nowhere to be seen on stage this time. Maybe next year?
An update to other product categories
Beyond those specifics, there were a host of potential options for a classic “one more thing” announcement that Apple has been known to pull in the past. A suite of products are due upgrades before too long, and though we didn’t see any of them at this event we have high hopes that we’ll see new versions of HomePod, AirPods, and Apple TV.
After sales of the smart speaker have underwhelmed – despite its impressive audio quality – many analysts expect Apple to release a “HomePod Mini” at some stage, offering a smaller and cheaper alternative to the current model.
Though AirPods generation 2 only released at the start of the year, there is still room for improvement with many users hoping a noise-canceling model will arrive sooner rather than later.
And the launch of new services TV+ and Arcade could have been the perfect platform for a new and improved Apple TV that caters to both – a redesigned Siri Remote or official Apple controller would be a good start for gamers.
An all-in-one services bundle
Speaking of services, it’s a big shame we haven’t seen any kind of bundles offering lower prices for those who opt into everything Apple has to offer.
An all-in-one “Apple Prime” subscription covering Apple Music, Apple News+, Apple TV+, and Apple Arcade would be a great way to entice people to try all four services, even if they’re only directly interested in one or two. Throw in some extra iCloud storage and it could be a really enticing proposition for users.
Perhaps Apple didn’t want to confuse its existing pricing and deals with a bundle offer, though, which is understandable considering the various free trials available on each service. Apple TV+ will even be free for a year to anyone who buys a new device, and no bundle can match that.
Still, we’d love to see a few more options for savvy consumers in the future as Apple builds up its suite of subscription services.
There’s always next time
Hopefully, we’ll see some of these announcements before long – Apple is likely to host another event before the end of the year, and of course 2020 is believed to be the year the iPhone design is kicked up a notch or two.
Until then, we’re still fairly pleased with Apple’s new direction that aims to keep the exclusive pro-level consumers happy which simultaneously courting the everyman with its move to (generally) lower prices. Roll on the next event!