‘It’s been way too long’ since Apple updated these products


Apple's new improved TV could be coming as early as this fall.
Will there be a new Apple TV next week? If so, it's been a long time coming. Photo: Robert S. Donovan/Flickr CC
Photo: Robert S. DonovanFlickr CC

The tagline for next week’s Apple media event is “It’s been way too long.” While that might be nothing more than a sarcastic nod to the fact that Cupertino announced the Apple Watch and iPhone 6 just last month, it could be a cryptic indication that we’ll see updates to some of the company’s neglected products.

Rumors suggest new iPads and Macs will share the stage at Apple’s October 16 event, and we’ll probably get OS X Yosemite’s release date and more talk about iOS 8 and Apple Pay, but what about the rest of the product lineup?

Here’s a look at Apple products currently languishing in update hell, along with some rumors and speculation about what the future might hold.

Thunderbolt Display

Thunderbolt Display
Apple’s Thunderbolt Display is seriously ready for an upgrade. Photo: Nick Heer/Flickr CC

Last update: 1,120 days

Rumored upgrades: Apple hasn’t refreshed its Thunderbolt Display in over three years. And what’s sad is that there really haven’t been many rumors to indicate that an update is imminent.

The unveiling of the new Mac Pro last year seemed like the perfect time for Apple to announce a new display, but nothing was said. Like the iMac, rumors of a Retina Thunderbolt Display have surfaced randomly, but there hasn’t been anything concrete reported about what to expect.

Last month, Digitimes reported that Apple is planning to launch a 27-inch monitor with a jaw-dropping 5,120 x 2,880 5K resolution later this year, but it’s unclear if the display will be put in the iMac or serve as a standalone peripheral. Interestingly, the latest DisplayPort specs are capable of powering such a display, which could mean previous connectivity bottlenecks have been solved.

Apple TV

Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac
Will Apple TV finally graduate beyond “area of interest?” Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac
Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

Last update: 946 days

Rumored upgrades: No longer just a “hobby,” the Apple TV is in serious need of some tender loving care. Tim Cook and Co. have repeatedly said TV remains an “area of interest” for the company, and new channels have been steadily added to Apple TV for more than a year. The interface also got a face-lift with the release of iOS 8.

But that’s where the innovation has stopped, at least for those outside Apple’s labs. The Apple TV hasn’t seen a hardware refresh since January 2013. Spec-wise, the set-top box is due for faster Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, and it would especially make sense for it to be able to stream 4K video if new displays are announced. On the software side of things, rumors have repeatedly said an app store and gaming enhancements are in the works.

We know Apple has been experimenting with a full-fledged TV set for years, but that project seems to be hinged on unsealed deals with Hollywood and other content providers.

Mac mini

Photo: Tiziano L. U. Caviglia
Apple’s tiny powerhouse needs some love. Photo: Tiziano L. U. Caviglia/Flickr CC

Last update: 716 days

Rumored upgrades: The smallest member of the Mac family seems to have been completely forgotten. But it looks like 2014 could be the year the Mac mini finally gets updated. An Apple support document referenced a 2014 Mac mini back in July, and reports from last month said Apple is planning a refresh alongside new iPads.

If Apple announces a new version next week, the new Mac mini would likely use Intel’s older Haswell processors and forego the more advanced Broadwell lineup coming next year. Shipping with slightly outdated specs would likely help Apple keep the price point below $1,000. Beggars can’t be choosers.

All the iPods

Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac
Change could be coming on the iPod front, but it’s doubtful. Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac
Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

The iPod has been in a weird funk for the last couple of years. Seeing new iPods used to be a tradition around this time each year, but Apple’s focus (and margins) have shifted toward the iPhone. Now iPod sales aren’t even mentioned during Apple’s quarterly results.

The iPod nano hasn’t been updated in 394 days, and there haven’t been any rumors to suggest we’ll see a refresh next week. The fate of the iPod shuffle remains equally unknown, but it’s likely that both will go the way of the Classic.

And what about the iPod touch? Some minor spec bumps were introduced in June, but it’s been a while since we’ve seen any significant innovation to match the iPhone’s advancements. This time of year used to be iPod season, but those days are long gone.