Apple in 2019: more Macs, more pro, and a vision for telly

Stuff’s Apple wish-list for the next 12 months

Oh no! It’s the new year, and we should already have smashed out 50,000 words about how Apple is doomed, and how there might just be a new iPhone this year! Where’s our keyboard? Who left our laptop under that pile of wrapping paper?

No, hang on – this is Stuff. We don’t do that sort of thing. Well, apart from losing laptops under piles of junk, obviously. But we already know Apple will release new versions of the usual suspects in 2019.

As ever, then, we’re thinking more deeply, bringing you our annual list of what we want to see from Apple, and not merely what we know we’re going to get.

Update Macs like clockwork

In December, the Mac Pro turned five. That’s great if you’re a kid and can dive head-first into a massive chocolate cake. For a computer that’s barely been updated, it’s an embarrassment. And it’s not alone – Macs are these days updated so sporadically people often mull whether entire lines will be unceremoniously axed.

We get that Apple wants every release to be an event – that’s good marketing. But in those years where some lines aren’t due a major revamp, we’d like to see them all given CPU, storage and RAM bumps, to keep them current.

Make iPad more pro

We love the new iPad Pro – and in 2019 want it to be even more ‘pro’. Mostly, this involes forking iOS in a more dramatic fashion than to date – over and above a Dock and Split View.

When using a keyboard, we need a pointer system of some kind. Every app – not just Safari – needs two-up windowing. Pro-level apps need support, and Apple should encourage multi-screen use cases. And that USB-C port needs to start working with external drives, because, no, we don’t fancy sending that 4K video edit to someone using iCloud Drive.

Create an always-on Apple Watch

The new Apple Watch is a lovely thing. The larger display with its curved corners makes the wearable’s predecessor look prehistoric. Which makes it all the more ironic that it spends most of its life completely blank.

Look, it’s not that we want to show off our ridiculous number of complications to all and sundry. But we do want to avoid doing the ‘weird wrist dance’ when we pull back a sleeve to check the time. We want that screen to be ready and waiting.

Unleash an Apple TV stick

It’s fair to say Amazon and Apple have very different business models. But with telly, you must get your product out there. Apple TV is showing worrying signs of low demand – Microsoft pulling Minecraft; UK TV apps lagging behind Android and iOS equivalents.

Pricing suggests why. Amazon’s 4K Fire stick costs 50 quid. The standard Apple TV costs three times as much, and the 4K edition is a whopping £179. Apple will argue it offers seamless ecosystem integration and superior hardware, but this isn’t the place for luxury. Something has to give – and we hope it’s Apple TV’s form factor and price tag.

Get TV right

Apple’s TV ambitions are clear, and we regularly hear about Apple hoovering up shows for its upcoming service. However, we’ve also heard reports about Apple plans to limit the service to family-friendly content.

In the past, Apple’s had a puritanical approach to media, but that won’t fly in an era of Game of Thrones and The Punisher. So we hope Apple offers a range of shows, from children’s fare to thrillers, and then – as per our previous point – makes them widely available, rather than sealing them inside expensive black boxes for the few.

Hire a games guru

If Steve Jobs is infused in Apple’s DNA, it’s no wonder the company is cool on gaming. There are missed opportunities and concerns aplenty. iPod touch + Apple TV should have been Nintendo Switch, but Apple dropped the ball. And premium indie developers are fleeing the platform, feeling muscled out by freemium tat.

The dollars big guns bring in perhaps make Apple think it’s succeeding in gaming, but success must be more than financial. The Games tab in the App Store is a start, but the company needs a senior gaming advocate on staff who has Tim Cook’s ear. Until then, gaming success on iOS will remain accidental, incidental, or both.

Make MarioKart for iOS amazing

OK, so this one’s for Nintendo, not Apple. In February last year, Nintendo announced its new mobile app: Mario Kart Tour. And here’s what else we know about it: nothing. But there’s a dearth of decent kart racers on iOS right now, and we’d dearly love Nintendo to successfully fill that void.

There’s no reason why it can’t. Sega’s Sonic-themed iOS kart racers were playable, if cut down from their handheld cousins, and Asphalt 9 and Need for Speed: Most Wanted prove iOS racers can look superb and handle well. Let’s just hope Nintendo’s effort is more Super Mario Run than Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp (or – shudderMiitomo).

Ramp up iCloud Drive storage

In 2018, Apple shifted its miserly stance on free iCloud storage, upping the 5GB limit to 200GB – but only for students. Don’t get us wrong – it was a welcome move, but the meagre 5GB for everyone else feels like an insult.

We understand Apple’s services income is on the up, and iCloud feeds into that. But 2011’s generosity is now 2019’s absurdity, given that 5GB is no longer enough to back-up even Apple’s smallest iOS device.

Make great tech universal

Transitions are tricky things, not least when technologies take years to filter through a company’s product line. Today, we see USB-C on the iPad Pro but not the standard iPad nor other iOS devices. There are two Apple Pencils. Touch ID came to the MacBook Air, but fell a bit flat because we really wanted Face ID.

We know there are all sorts of reasons why you can’t gurn at your Mac to unlock it, and why USB-C isn’t yet on the iPhone – but that doesn’t mean we don’t want to see such things, and simplify/unify key elements of Apple’s devices.

Give us a Home indicator off switch

We bellyached about this one last year, but in 2018 the iPad Pro also got in on the act, making it look like someone scrawled across the bottom of your screen in pen.

We get the need for the Home indicator to exist, to help people transition from a Home button. But it’s a distraction in creative apps, and an abomination in gaming – especially those that hide the thing, only for it to reappear when you touch the screen.

At the very least, in 2019, give us an off switch in settings. Please.