Despite the fact that Apple blocked out a full two hours for yesterday's "Time Flies" event, it actually had the whole thing wrapped up in less than one. This may not be all that surprising in an era of virtual events, where segments are prerecorded and rebroadcast and there's less of a need to fill an auditorium with journalists and make the event worth their time and travel expenses, but it was still brief even by these new standards.
Mind you, it didn't necessarily feel that way, as Apple managed to pack quite a bit into that single hour, debuting not one, but two new Apple Watches along with a groundbreaking new Family Setup feature for the wearable device, a new Fitness+ service, the anticipated Apple One service bundle, and two new iPads with some significant upgrades.
In fact, yesterday's event was actually quite a refreshing change in many ways, allowing Apple to spend a bit of more time talking about each product and letting folks walk away feeling far less overwhelmed by a whole slate of new stuff.
Despite some pretty big product announcements, however, there was also quite a bit that Apple didn't unveil — or even mention — at the event, which was laser-focused on Apple's wearable ecosystem and tablets; even Apple's Fitness+ service was obviously tied to the Apple Watch, and Apple One was just a logical follow-up to share the fact that the new fitness service would be part of the bundle.
Don't lose heart, however, since Apple is far from finished with rolling out new products this year. The world of virtual events means that the company no longer needs to hold an omnibus event that covers its entire fall lineup, and there will certainly be more to come. Read on for 8 things that Apple didn't unveil yesterday that are still likely to appear in the next few months.
The iPhone 12
While anybody who was paying attention to the tech news reports should have known that the iPhone would not be making its debut yesterday — Apple actually went out of its way to tell key journalists that there would be no iPhone announcement — we wouldn't blame you for being disappointed. After all, the last time Apple didn't announce an iPhone in September was back in 2010, when it unveiled the iPhone 4S on October 4th instead, and that was the first year the iPhone ever came out in the fall. For the past nine years, a new iPhone has always been announced in September.
However, Apple already told investors last month that this year's iPhone would be delayed by a few weeks, so it stands to reason that the company will be holding another October virtual event this year to actually show off its new iPhone lineup. Even then, it's quite likely it won't have all of the four models we're expecting ready to launch right away — most reports have suggested that the iPhone 12 Pro models won't be ready until November, although there's a dissenting opinion that the two 6.1-inch iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro models may launch first, with the 5.4-inch standard and 6.7-inch Pro Max coming later on.
The iPad Pro
There were some reports that a new iPad Pro would arrive this fall, however as reports of the new 11-inch iPad Air started to solidify, it became apparent to us that most of these rumours may have been confusing this new mid-range iPad for an iPad Pro, since of course the two devices now look virtually identical.
Still, while we didn't really expect an iPad Pro to be released so soon after the spring refresh, Apple did surprise us in one pretty significant way: the debut of the new A14 chip on the iPad Air — the first device to be announced with the new chip — now puts Apple's mid-range iPad as the fastest device it has on the market, at least two generations above the 2020 iPad Pro. To be fair, the Pro model did receive a new, slightly upgraded A12Z chip this year, but it's also still one that's based on Apple's 2018 A12 technology — the base version of which Apple's new 8th-gen entry-level iPad even sports now.
We'll have to wait for the benchmarks to see how much of a practical difference this makes in daily use, but it does suddenly feel really odd that Apple's flagship iPad is now lagging behind. Much better mini-LED equipped 5G iPad Pros are said to be coming early next year, but this also now leaves us wondering if Apple will wait that long to add the A14 to its premium iPad lineup, but it's also likely working on getting an A14X chip ready for the Pro models, which also looks like it will be shared with Apple's first Apple Silicon Macs, and it wouldn't be a big surprise if Apple offered up an upgraded A14X-equipped iPad Pro at a Mac event later this fall.
If there was one product we were really expecting to see unveiled yesterday, it was Apple's AirTags. After all, not only are these one of those products we've been hearing about for well over a year now — code for them was first found in the original iOS 13 betas back in June 2019 — but there are reports they're already in mass production.
Of course, Apple could simply be saving the AirTags announcement to go along with the iPhone 12 debut next month, or it could even push them into a later event. Despite the rumours, Apple may not have them ready to ship yet, or it may simply feel that they're a better fit for the iPhone launch, since they'll likely take more advantage of the U1 chip's location tracking and augmented reality features of the iPhone. After all, even though the Apple Watch Series 6 gained the U1 chip too, it's hard to really show off what AirTags can do on an Apple Watch.
Apple's on-ear headphones project has been shrouded in a lot more mystery lately. We heard reports in the spring that the new cans, which are supposedly going to be called "AirPods Studio," were right around the corner. Some even suggested that they could launch at WWDC back in June, although it was somewhat arguable about whether they would have been appropriate for the largely software-focused event.
There were also rumours that these started production back in the spring, so unless Apple has run into snags in the process, it seems as if the company is deliberately holding off on announcing them. Still, it's not hard to see how Apple might also be saving them to launch with the iPhone, but at this point it's really hard to say what's going on here.
Most of the rumours earlier this year that we would see new AirPods, or at least new Beats, this fall, seem to have died down, and analysts are generally agreeing that Apple will be holding off on all of these until at least early next year.
At that point, Apple will likely only release its third-generation AirPods, which are expected to feature a design similar to the AirPods Pro, but without Active Noise Cancelling features. Instead, the in-ear design and tips will offer more passive noise isolation, which should already be a nice upgrade.
Second-generation AirPods Pro are more of a question mark right now, but many reports suggest that they'll arrive even later next year, which makes some sense considering Apple's 2019 timeline for both products, so a fall 2021 release of those wouldn't be entirely surprising. Either way, Apple's really in no hurry as the current AirPods and AirPods Pro are still selling like hotcakes, and Apple has also just given them a really nice boost with the addition of Spatial Audio in iOS 14.
A New Apple TV
The last time Apple refreshed the Apple TV was back in 2017, when the iPhone 8 was still the mainstream iPhone design and the iPhone X was revolutionary, rather than standard. So there's no doubt that the set-top box is due for an update, especially in an era of Apple Arcade, and we've heard that one is coming very soon.
While the Apple TV 4K is no slouch when it comes to handling video streaming, the new Apple TV is expected to get a boost to Apple's A12 chip, along with doubling the storage capacities, likely as a nod to its shifting role into a gaming platform.
We've also recently heard rumours that Apple will be bundling a new Siri Remote with Find My support built-in, so you'll be able to find it more easily when it slips under the couch cushion. We still have no guarantee as to when this new set-top box will arrive, but it's a safe bet that we can expect it sometime this fall, either at another upcoming Apple event, or possibly even just slipped out more quietly via press release once it's ready.
The HomePod Mini
Apple’s HomePod is another device that’s starting to feel a bit long in the tooth. First announced at WWDC back in 2017, and released in early 2018, Apple’s Siri-enabled smart speaker has never been a big seller for the company, but many analysts believe that may be partly due to its higher price tag and Apple’s decision to try to market it as a high-end speaker first and a smart assistant second.
Of course, it’s difficult to say what market Apple is going for here, and while we’re not sure we’ll ever see Apple compete in the race to the bottom by producing a $50 Siri speaker, it does seem like there’s room for Apple to cut a few corners and release a new model that still provides solid audio quality without needing to be quite so high-end. We’ve heard Apple is working on it, but the rumours have also been somewhat sporadic.
Apple Silicon Macs
Apple has very rarely announced Mac hardware during its September events, so we don't think anybody was really expecting the first Apple Silicon Macs to show up yesterday, and that definitely doesn't mean that they're not still coming.
In fact, we'd put money on Apple's Silicon getting its own third event later this fall once the first Macs are ready to ship with the new chips, which are likely to be the smaller MacBooks — the MacBook Air, the 13-inch MacBook Pro, and possibly even the return of a 12-inch MacBook.
Recent reports have suggested that these first Apple Silicon MacBooks will be powered by a new A14X chip, which is more or less the typical upgraded version of the baseline A-series chip that Apple packs into its iPad Pro models. This could mean that we see a new iPad Pro unveiled at the same Mac event, since Apple could use the opportunity to highlight how the iPad Pro and new MacBooks are powered by the exact same chips.
Either way, however, the more powerful Macs won't be getting the Apple Silicon treatment until sometime next year, since Apple needs to work on the GPU side of things for those models. Rumour has it that a new iMac is in the works for mid-2021 that will feature a custom Apple-designed GPU to run alongside the A14X.