What To Expect From Apple in 2016

Apple has over 1 billion devices in-use throughout the world. It’s no secret that the company and the brand has been a hit with users for well over a decade. In fact, releases of their game-changing products are considered events, sparking engagement from fans and non-fans alike. Thus, in the world of tech where things change very quickly and result in a practically annual release of new products or updates, this year will be no different.

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Macbook, iPad, iPhone 6

But what can consumers expect from Apple in 2016? A new iPhone? New laptops or more focus on the declining iPad? Perhaps all of that and some. According to Macrumors and 9to5Mac–fan blogs dedicated to news and updates centered around the company–here are some of the things likely in the works over in Cupertino.

iPhone 6 and Mac

iPhone 7

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iPhone 6 in Silver and Space Gray

Last year’s iPhone 6s saw Apple introducing new colors and an array of new features like 3D touch and live photos. The company also hit a new sales record, selling 13 million devices in just 3 days. Sales have pretty much stalled, however. Maybe because consumers are waiting for an official number upgrade (i.e. iPhone 6 to iPhone 7). Details expected in the potential fall release include doing away with the headphone jack and a thinner, sleeker phone altogether. It will be interesting to see.

Apple Watch 2

Wearing an Apple Watch

As expected, Apple’s entry into the smartwatch industry last year changed the game. Despite a hefty price tag and not many features, the watch became the most popular of the year, with over half of all shipments of any smartwatch device, coming from the company. Apple will no doubt want to capitalize off that with new features and a highly publicized release. Experts suggest such may be coming as early as March.

Apple Streaming

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Image of a Smart TV

Apple currently has its Apple TV device, with which users can connect to their TVs and access iTunes, ESPN, and Netflix, among other things; but the company is said to be moving in the direction of the aforementioned Netflix and Amazon, with a streaming service of its own. It’s expected that the company will partner with a single or multiple cable companies to provide bundles and a monthly subscription price tag of about $40–more expensive than other streaming services, but cheaper than cable. Reports of such first surfaced last year, but it could come to fruition later in 2016.

Holding up an iPad

These new developments will certainly boost the company’s popularity with consumers and investors, which seem to be bearish about the future of the company because of “dying” interest. Hopefully the updates will be as significant and groundbreaking as the company’s earlier releases. We’re all expecting something amazing; let’s see if Tim Cook and team will rise to the challenge.

Anthony Beyer opens his new smartwatch

Gaming & The Smartwatch

Anthony Beyer's photo of high tech, black and blue smartwatch.
Anthony Beyer – Futuristic Smartwatch

From arcade games to consoles, computers to Game Boys, and smartphones to tablets, gaming and, therefore, game development has evolved rapidly over the last three decades. As technology has continued to expand, so has the world of development and possibilities for creatives in the industry. Yet, while cell phones are seemingly getting larger, with a desire for more visual space from consumers, another much, much smaller platform is on the horizon, providing an additional though exciting challenge for developers: the smartwatch.

While some publications like TechRadar.com have traced the history of the smartwatch to the early 1980s–with Seiko’s Pulsar NL C01, which could be connected to a printer and included a memory cartridge slot–the devices of yesteryear were not nearly as advanced as what is available to consumers now, mostly because of technological advances, like bluetooth and wireless connectivity, some 30 years later. In fact, up until very recently, the popularity and overall necessity of such a device was uncertain. Yet, with Apple selling 6 million of the devices since its release earlier this year, and with expectations to double that number with 4th quarter holiday sales, eyes are on the smartwatch as the next big (figuratively speaking, of course) thing.

Anthony Beyer's photo of an apple watch with the clock, date and time displayed
Anthony Beyer – Smartwatch Clock

Aki Järvilehto, CEO and founder of Everywear Games, personally believes that the smartwatch is the ideal gaming platform. Speaking about the Apple Watch, specifically, he said the smartwatch will change the development world for the following reasons: “They’re always available and will get you in the game in seconds, much faster than any other platform. We are already seeing a frequency of use among our players that is simply unprecedented in games.” And unlike other platforms, games are shorter, more simple, or what Järvilehto has called “Twitter-sized” entertainment, making games on the device possibly more addictive, resulting in more frequent use.

Not everyone is sold on smartwatch gaming, however. Some of the caution has been attributed to the difficulty for developers to manage advertising and for the lack of interest in paid games, in comparison to other platforms, at present. Nevertheless, experts suggest that dismissing the idea altogether could be a mistake, considering that shifts in gaming have been consistent with almost every new invention, using the fact that mobile gaming has exceeded desktop gaming in popularity, as an example.

Another factor for developers to consider is the decline in growth in mobile gaming revenue. Recent datashows that revenue of six popular mobile gaming companies grew a combined 1 percent in the second quarter of 2015, in stark contrast to the rapid growth in years prior, signaling that the market is at maturity. Research analyst and CFO for Zynga Asia suggests that what could save the industry is development in untapped markets and “unexplored territories.”

Anthony Beyer on a drive with, using his smartwatch for directions
Anthony Beyer – Driving with a Smartwatch

At any rate, smartwatch gaming is relatively new, so skepticism is natural. However, all signs point to continued growth and advancement. As with anything else, those who get there first will have some advantages and will likely be first to see the benefits. It’s too early to tell whether the platform will be as large as, say, cell phones or desktop; however, there is growth and that deserves some consideration.