We’ve already covered a roadmap of what we’re hoping to see from Apple this coming year, but now veteran Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo is adding his voice to the chorus with a number of interesting predictions for the things that Apple is working on, and if even half of these come true, it looks like 2021 is going to be another fun and interesting year for Apple fans.
The thing that makes Kuo’s thoughts much more worthwhile than most is the fact that among Apple watchers and leakers, the venerable analyst is much more often right than wrong; he’s well-connected to the Asian supply chain that produces all the various components for Apple’s upcoming products, and he watches it with a very sharp eye for detail.
Of course, since Apple lines up its logistics often years in advance, it’s often difficult to predict exactly when things will arrive, but it’s not usually all that hard for the trained observer to figure out the “what” of it all.
To be fair, some of Kuo’s predictions are fairly obvious; for example, he’s predicting that Apple will release its AirTags this year, and considering that we’ve been seeing evidence of them since early 2019, if anything it’s more surprising that Apple hasn’t released them already.
At this point, however, it likely comes down to timing — some leakers have indicated that Apple has them ready to go, and is simply holding them off until this spring. Set up screens found in iOS 14.4 betas reveal that the underlying technology is already in place, but also suggest the interesting possibility that Apple is looking to get it’s wider Find My Network in place with third-party products before releasing its own, likely to head off even more antitrust headaches, seeing as how its competitors have already been accusing Apple of anticompetitive behaviour, and AirTags don’t even officially exist yet.
However, some would consider Kuo’s weighing in on Apple’s item tracking tags to be more reliable evidence that they’re coming than some of the other leakers that have been throwing around information about them — in the very least it’s additional confirmation that things are on track, although Kuo refrained from predicting when they might actually show up.
The more interesting part of Kuo’s report focuses on Apple’s augmented reality ambitions, and while he avoids getting into specifics, he’s definitely confident that Apple will release some kind of augmented reality device this year.
This would likely be the much-rumoured AR Headset that Apple has reportedly been working on for years, however despite some wild claims last year that Apple was getting ready to unveil full “Apple Glass” AR spectacles last fall, most of the analysts with cooler heads have been sticking consistently to a 2022 timeframe for the AR headset, after a big leak from within Apple in late 2019 also laid that out as part of Apple’s own roadmap.
So it’s significant that Kuo, who was one of the most consistent voices in predicting that we wouldn’t see anything before 2022, has now revised his own timeline to indicate that a new AR headset will be coming this year.
That said, we certainly wouldn’t expect anything to appear before this fall, and it’s equally possible that Apple might even simply preview the new product without actually putting it on sale until next year, since that’s certainly something it’s done in the past with products such as the original iPhone, Apple Watch, and HomePod.
Kuo has also gone on record a few times in stating that the first-generation Apple headset will be heavily dependent on the iPhone, but while we heard rumours that the iPhone 12 would gain new Wi-Fi capabilities, that hasn’t yet happened, and so there may be other pieces that need to fall into place first as well.
Most of Kuo’s other predictions are considerably less surprising. He notes that Apple will continue its transition to Apple Silicon, again without going into specifics, and reiterates that both the iPad Pro and Mac lineups will be gaining Mini-LED displays, likely beginning with the 12.9-inch iPad Pro, as he has stated before, followed by redesigned 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro laptops.
Likewise, he weighs in on upcoming AirPods, corroborating other reports that we’ll see both new third-generation AirPods that will adopt the AirPods Pro passive noise isolation design, followed by second-generation AirPods Pro, and although Kuo doesn’t comment on the look for the higher-end earbuds, other reports have suggested that Apple is trying for a stemless design.