Apple in 2017: desktop Macs, the death of Lightning, and ‘small not thin’

What Stuff India hopes we’ll see from Apple over the next 12 months

You know how it goes. People barely utter a line of Auld Lang Syne and tech pundits have already flooded the internet with Apple predictions for 2017. The iPhone 8 (or possibly 7s)! New iPads! Craig Federighi’s hair gaining sentience!

Yet short of Tim Cook driving Apple off a cliff rather than continuing to make the money needed to produce an actual Apple car (that Maps will drive off a cliff), 2017 will undoubtedly see the usual revisions to Apple hardware and services.

So rather than give you the same list as everyone else, we’re thinking about what we want from Apple in 2017 rather than just what we’ll probably get.

1) Release new desktop Macs

A new MacBook Pro arrived in November, but the only other Mac updated in 2016 was the MacBook. Desktops? Nada.

The most recent iMac revision happened in October 2015. The Mac Mini? 2014. The Mac Pro Phil Schiller got all excited about (“Can’t innovate any more, my ass!”)? No change for over 1000 days.

In a recent memo to Apple staff, Tim Cook said “we have great desktops in our roadmap”. We’re glad to hear it. Refining a product line is one thing, but only having two Mac options is taking things a bit too far.

2) Don’t forget the little guys

Bar capacity alterations, the iPad mini hasn’t been updated in over a year. We doubt it’ll get all the goodies found in the iPad Pros, but we hope 2017 will bring at least a processor bump, to ensure it’ll run all the latest apps.

But the smaller Apple product we’re more concerned about is the iPhone SE. With the guts of a 6S in a 5S case, it brought a powerful small iPhone back to the line-up. It shouldn’t languish – although rather than an update, we’d sooner see Apple kill two birds with one stone by eradicating the bezel from the iPhone 8.

3) Realise thin isn’t the only way

Apple’s obsession with thin continues unabated. Rumour has it when Phil Schiller’s angry, he uses MacBooks like shuriken, embedding them into walls and the occasional intern. But, you know, our Apple kit’s thin enough now, thanks. We’d like Apple to think different.

We’d happily choose extra battery life on the next iPhone or notebook rather than shaving a fraction of a millimetre from its form. And we don’t care if our iMac’s a bit flabby if we can still install extra RAM.

4) Give everyone a Touch Bar

The jury’s still out on some aspects of the MacBook Pro Touch Bar – we doubt too many people will be using it to mix records, for example. But as a context-sensitive shortcuts bar and to bring Touch ID to the Mac, it’s great.

A pity, then, you can’t get one for a desktop Mac – unless Apple somehow magics up its Magic Keyboard a bit more. With Touch Bar essentially being a tiny touchscreen device itself, we shudder at the cost of such an accessory, but, hey, Apple’s never shied away from expensive kit.

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5) Reenergise creatives

Not everyone wants to make things, but artists, musicians and other creative types often inspire people. They formed the backbone of Apple’s comeback advertising campaign in the late 1990s, and also kept the Mac platform afloat during its darkest years.

Increasingly, though, we hear of creatives – comic artists; web developers – heading elsewhere. Not a flood as yet, but more than a trickle. We’re hoping 2017 will find Apple cementing its appeal with such people, so the platform doesn’t end up with people merely aspiring to be a hipster in a coffee shop, tapping away on a notebook with a fruit logo on its lid.

6) Get more telly on our telly

Few month's after the new Apple TV’s release, there have been a good amount of Indian centric channels like Hot Star and Eros but we are hoping for Apple to add a few more to this list if it wishes to become a fan favourite.

It’s no surprise Apple’s US-centric but in 2017 we hope it’ll investigate what the hold-up is in bringing more Indian telly to the Apple TV. Also the lack of 4K support is bonkers.

7) Make iOS go pro

There’s sort of a tick-tock cycle to iOS, with the iPad getting major new features every other major update. On that basis, iOS 11 should receive some iPad-specific features – and we certainly hope so, because we need an iOS Pro.

The current Home screen set-up looks ridiculous on a larger iPad. Split View was a great start, but the app picker remains atrocious, making it nightmarish to find apps if you’ve more than a handful installed. And why can’t we ask Siri to launch pairs of apps side by side to circumvent the fiddly Split View set-up entirely?

8) Get more people buying apps

Given the way the industry has gone coupled with people’s sense of entitlement, we’re not sure how Apple will be able to fix everyone wanting apps for free. But when we see great products like Status Board discontinued, the developer saying there’s “not a lot of overlap right now between ‘pro’ and ‘iOS’”, that’s a big concern.

If Apple sees iPad as the future, it needs to double down on the present, normalising spending a decent chunk of change on quality productivity apps, and ensuring it prominently features them whenever possible.

9) Raise the iCloud limit

Enough’s enough: that 5 GB iCloud limit has to go in 2017. Yes, we know Apple’s giddy about an uptick in its ’services’ bottom line, part of which is people paying for iCloud storage upgrades. But when this negatively impacts on user experience, there’s a problem.

Right now, lots of people hit their limit and don’t back up. They even stop taking photos. Even more bafflingly, schools that use iPads can’t upgrade, meaning students run out of space – hardly surprising when armed with kit that shoots 4K video. At the very least, Apple should make the 50 GB tier free for schools.

10) Kill Lightning

Yeah, we said it. And, yeah, we know it’d be painful to go through donglegeddon again. But connectivity across Apple products is an illogical mess.

For a company that prizes simplicity and elegance, it’s ridiculous you can’t use iPhone headphones with your new MacBook Pro, or USB-C anything with your iPhone.

On Macs, Apple’s betting heavily on USB-C, so let’s take iOS along for the ride. And although we know that will hit Apple in the bank account (Lightning being quite the earner), it’s the right thing to do for a company that professes to put the user experience above everything else.