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Apple in 2022: what Stuff wants to see

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

As we emerge blinking from a pile of wrapping paper, Stuff’s editor barks: “It’s time to put on your guessing trousers! Blast Apple 2022 rumours at the internet! Say random things about how the iPhone 14 Pro Max will be made entirely of bees!”

Actually, he didn’t. Possibly because he’s still under a pile of wrapping paper himself. But mostly because this is Stuff and we don’t do that kind of thing. Instead, we’re munching on the last mince pie and mulling over what we hope Apple will send our way this year.

(If anyone can sneak this list into Tim Cook’s Reminders app, we’d be most grateful.)

Take Mac desktops to the Max

Last year, we got a new MacBook Pro and then an even bigger new MacBook Pro. They were both very pro indeed. But desktop pro Macs haven’t yet seen the same love, with the iMac Pro quietly disappeared and the Intel Mac Pro soldiering on, trying to convince people to spend over five grand in order to party like it’s 2019. Successor systems need to rock up this year, sporting efficient, powerful Apple silicon.

Squash all the bugs

When software goes wrong, there’s a tendency to think “this is me”. Increasingly with Apple, you think: “Actually, no – it’s you.” 2021 wasn’t a high point for Apple in this regard. The internet was flooded with people who couldn’t use widgets on their mobile devices (they’re still broken on a Stuff iPad Pro); iCloud remains a mess regarding syncing (as in, the thing it’s primarily designed to do); and numerous other niggles suggest Apple’s software QA isn’t nearly as tight as its hardware QA. That needs to change.

Think different with design

Apple must keep up the momentum on reimagining Macs in meaningful ways. We were sceptical of the 24in iMac until we had one on our desk. It blended into the home rather than feeling like an intrusive piece of tech kit. Natch, pro Macs will need to scream about their raw power, but what of the MacBook Air and Mac Mini? Colour and friendliness rather than a slab of grey for the former? Something – finally – properly mini for the latter?

Start a Mac upgrade programme

In 2015, Apple provided a new way to access an iPhone. The iPhone Upgrade Programme has you take out a 0% APR loan for an iPhone and AppleCare, which nets you a new iPhone for a manageable monthly payment. You can keep the programme going and upgrade annually or complete the current cycle’s loan and retain the most recent device. In the US, Apple’s introduced something broadly similar for business partners and notebooks. We’d like to see that extended to consumers and all Macs.

Bring back Touch ID

Touch ID never entirely went away, but we mean bring it back to iPhone. COVID isn’t going anywhere, and demanding masked folks also have an Apple Watch or repeatedly tap in a passcode to unlock an iPhone doesn’t feel very Apple. (OK, maybe “buy another expensive thing to make things work” is quite Apple, to be fair.) The iPad Air and iPad mini smartly integrate Touch ID into the power button. The iPhone 14 should follow suit.

Finally get gaming

This is a big ask, but at some point Apple needs to elevate someone to a position of power who loves and gets games in the same way its exec team loves music. Right now, the Mac game ecosystem has been hit by yet another transition, the Mac App Store games selection is abysmal, discoverability of quality mobile games is poor, streaming on mobile remains demonised, and Apple Arcade is increasingly disappointing, relying on rebadged premium titles and originals that are freemium games with the IAP ripped out.

Don’t forget the iPod touch

There’s a good chance Apple has forgotten about its iPhone without the phone bit. Head to Apple’s Store page and try to find one without resorting to search. No? We couldn’t figure it out either. But the iPod touch is fantastic and portable – ideal for kids when you need a small, light device to do most of what an iPhone can. Shove a compass and a more modern chip in there than the A10 Fusion and we’ll be good to go.

Simplify product lines

With Apple reworking a bunch of its products, it feels like there’s space for streamlining the line-up over the coming year, thereby making it less confusing. We already have the 24in iMac. There will be a bigger one, but do we need that and an iMac Pro? Perhaps the bigger one can just be the iMac Pro? Similarly, maybe it’s time to retire the MacBook Air branding and bring back the MacBook for folks who don’t want to go pro.

Make a headset for the rest of us

Apple creates technology people actually need rather than what they think they need. The company meaningfully disrupted the PC space multiple times, along with reimagining smartphones and wearables. Headsets are next, and Apple needs to leverage the company’s prowess in AR and spatial audio in a manner that goes beyond niche fare, thereby making a product for everyone. (Although: Apple. So it’ll start life as a headset for ‘everyone with deep pockets’. Still, it’s a start.)

Dial down the notches

Apple isn’t the only company to add notches to smartphones, but the notch increasingly feels like a design element in part used to differentiate its products. If so, it’s a horrible one. Although not the world’s biggest distraction, the notch impacts on immersive smartphone experiences, with apps and games not always bearing it in mind. Seeing it rock up on a MacBook Pro wasn’t ideal. But we shudder to think how intrusive a notch would be on a redesigned MacBook Air with a white bezel or – horrors! – an iPad.