Taking a look back at another week of news and headlines from Cupertino, this week’s Apple Loop includes two mysterious new iPhones, a familiar Android feature arriving on iOS, Apple losing its innovation crown, details on the new iPads and iMacs for 2019, and Apple exploring an Apple Pay credit card.
Apple Loop is here to remind you of a few of the very many discussions that have happened around Apple over the last seven days (and you can read my weekly digest of Android news here on Forbes).
New iPhones Revealed
Although it is not the iPhone SE2 that many were hoping for, Apple appears ready to refresh the iPhone range at the mid-point of the product cycle. According to sources, both the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max will pick up the now traditional Product (Red) color, which points to a new design technique from Cupertino. Forbes’ Gordon Kelly reports:
The leak reveals iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max Product(RED) editions are coming before the end of the month. This is exciting news as both phones have a steel chassis, a material which had previously stopped Apple from launching this iconic option with the iPhone X. So clearly a breakthrough has been made, which also opens up a world of future possibilities.
Interestingly, iPhoneHacks reveals the launch will begin in China before the end of the month. Apple (which has never used the Product(RED) brand in China due to political taboos) will attempt to woo Chinese buyers by calling the finish ‘China Red’.
More here on Forbes.
New iPhone Features Will Be Familiar To Android Users
One new feature for September’s iPhone update popped up this week. After Apple’s belated introduction of wireless charging, the 2019 editions of the iPhone are expected to support reverse wireless charging – i.e. the handset will be able to charge other devices using its battery power. It’s a great idea, but one that is already in use by a number of other manufacturers. What does Apple have that is genuinely new? So far not much, as I reported earlier this week:
If you work through the checklist of features that are going to be seen as ‘new’ to consumers, then you are going to be struggling. The closest you get to new is indoor positioning, but this was rolled into Android P and as handsets launch with the latest version of the operating system, software can take advantage of this system.
You could cite the update to FaceID, and the geekerati will happily tell you how this will be more accurate under more circumstances… but it is not a unique selling point. Android handsets with forward facing cameras are pushing facial unlocking, and while it may not be as secure as Apple’s system, in practice they offer the same benefit to someone looking for a new phone (and let’s not forget that for secure applications, Android will still insist on a more secure biometric, such as a fingerprint).
More here on Forbes.
Apple Loses Number One Spot On ‘Most Innovative’ List
The lack of progress in the 2019 handsets arguably echoes that of the 2018 handsets. The silicon may have improved, but the fundamentals of innovation have ben weakened, resulting in Apple losing the top spot in Fast Company’s ‘Most Innovative’ list. Tim Cook’s Apple has fallen to #17. Why the drop? Put simply the only innovation was chip based, as Harry McCracken notes:
Apple’s most impressive new product of 2018 wasn’t a phone or a tablet, but a chip: the A12 Bionic. At a time when it remains tougher than ever to induce consumers to upgrade, as proven by Apple’s surprise January move to cut revenue guidance on sluggish iPhone sales, the innovative chip design positions the company to create a whole new generation of irresistible experiences.
The full list can be found at Fast Company.
Here Come The New iPads For 2019
Noted analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has laid out his thoughts for Apple’s hardware lineup during 2019, with a particular focus on the iPad family. Given the upcoming March event, and the historical precedence of hat is launched by Apple in March, it’s a good bet that some new iPads will be appearing before the end of Q1 2019. Joe Rossignol reports:
…According to Kuo, Apple plans to release two new iPad Pro models, a 10.2-inch iPad, and a refreshed iPad mini, each equipped with an upgraded processor, later this year.
…According to Kuo, the 9.7-inch iPad will be bumped up to 10.2 inches in 2019. No other details on the “two new iPad Pros” are given, but a release would likely be later in 2019 given their relatively recent updates.
More at MacRumors.
When Will We See A New iMac?
So that’s the iPhone getting updated, the iPad getting updated, what about the iMac? Well, we’re not sure. It was last updated in June 2017, but since then there has been little action. Those hoping for an update this year are being made to wait. William Gallagher has some thoughts on the delay and it points to Tim Cook trying to upsell customers to the more expensive Mac Pro:
An iMac update that comes in the first half of 2019 is not going to tread on the toes of any other Apple Mac release. The trouble is that if it’s any later than that, other releases will tread on its toes instead.
Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has said nothing about the iMac but he has spoken about competing products —and that doesn’t just mean other Macs. He claims that alongside the new Mac Pro, Apple is going to launch a new display that he’s referring to as a 6K3K one. It will reportedly feature a 6,144 x 3,072 dpi resolution.
More people are going to want that display than want the Mac Pro. And at 31.6 inches diagonally, that display is going to outshine one of the iMac’s greatest selling points. That display is going to tempt people who might otherwise have gone for the iMac.
More at Apple Insider.
While Apple’s patent for a folding smartphone might be a nice little earner in the licensing stakes, the news that Apple Pay may be getting its own credit card (reports the Wall Street Journal). Daring Fireball’s John Gruber has some questions. While Apple Pay still earns Apple a small transaction slice, it could earn far more owning the debt associated with a credit card. Is that a route Tim Cook wants to go down? Gruber turns up the snark:
My big question is what the interest rates are going to be. Credit cards have turned into a dirty business where people who carry a balance pay exorbitant interest rates, even if they’ve never missed a payment. And the higher the interest rates, the harder it is to pay off the balance. Is that where Apple wants Services revenue growth to come from? Charging people usurious interest rates on their credit card debt?