What to expect from Apple in 2019

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Any USB-C hub will work with your iPad Pro, but they all have really short cables.
This year’s iOS 13 could bring dramatic benefits to the iPad Pro in multitasking and USB-C support.
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

Expect 2019 to be a big year for Apple’s iPad tablets. And for professional-grade Macs, too. The next 12 months won’t be as significant for the iPhone and Apple Watch lines, though there will certainly be some improvements.

Services and software are as important to Apple as hardware, so expect the long-awaited video service to arrive, and we predict a resurgence in augmented reality games too.

Read on for all our predictions for the most important changes in the Apple ecosystem this year. 

Most of these are based on information that already leaked out. In these cases, we’ll link to articles on the topic. Others are pure speculation, with some wishful thinking mixed in.

iOS 13 makes iPad Pro far more useful

Way back in 2017, iOS 11 brought important improvements to iPad. Last year’s iOS 12 focused on the iPhone, so we think 2019’s version will concentrate on tablets again.

iOS 13 will supposedly bring the ability to work with multiple windows from the same application side-by-side. This is already possible with Safari, but all software may get this feature.

A change we’re hoping for will be additional benefits from the USB-C port in the 2018 iPad Pro. Possible improvements include the ability to copy all types of files to and from external drives, greater support for external displays, and mouse/trackpad support.

An iPad trackpad?! Too bad it’s only a dream.
An iPad with a trackpad might stop being just a dream this year.
Photo: Brydge

These changes will benefit everyone who’s already purchased the current tablet, and set off a surge of sales. But don’t anticipate a replacement in 2019, as Apple has a pattern of releasing new iPad Pro models every 18. months. But the long-awaited iPad mini 5 could launch this year, alongside a larger budget iPad.

Everything the iPhone won’t have in 2019

Apple is going to skip the two biggest trends for smartphones in 2019. But we’re still expecting some improvments, of course.

Android-based 5G phones will be common by the end of the year, but Apple can’t get a 5G iPhone out before 2020 because it’s depending on Intel for the necessary modem. Making its own won’t speed things up either.

That’s not necessarily a disaster. Carriers will still be building out their 5G networks for years, and so the users of the early Android models won’t get much benefit from them for quite some time.

Also making headlines in 2019 will be a handful of models with folding displays. Investigation into a folding iPhone started in at least 2016, but the company isn’t likely to have anything before 2020. If then. It’s not clear yet whether there’s a market for foldable phones. Apple is apparently going to wait and see what happens with the Android offerings.

So we shouldn’t expect big hardware changes at all, as Apple is reportedly going to stick with the same iPhone screen sizes this year: 6.5, 6.1, and 5.9 inches.

Which isn’t to say there won’t be some enhancements. We’ve already heard about faster Face ID, and the addition of a third camera lens could bring better pictures. All of the 2019 models might have OLED displays, one with an integrated touchscreen. 

There’s been speculation that the 2019 iPhone will have a USB-C port, rather than a Lightning connector. If so, then these handsets will also benefit from the aforementioned improvements coming in iOS 13 for the iPad Pro.

Long-overdue Mac Pro desktop appears

Apple flat-out promised that it’s going to introduce an updated Mac Pro in 2019. The wait has been very long, as it’ll replace a model introduced in 2013.

So far, Apple hasn’t said much specific about this desktop, other than it’s going to be modular and upgradeable.  The goal is to make a computer for “visual effects and video editing and 3D animation and music production,” according to John Ternus, Apple VP of Hardware Engineering.

The processor, RAM, and storage options will surely surpass 2017’s iMac Pro. Other changes will be simple updates for 2019. The current Mac Pro model doesn’t even have USB-C, for example.

The Mac Pro is being "completely rethought."
The next Mac Pro is being “completely rethought” so it probably won’t look anything like this.
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

Apple also intends to release a new new high-end pro display this year.

Apple Watch, AirPods and AirPower, oh my!

2018 was a big year for Apple’s wearable, with screen sizes increasing and the addition of ECG. That suggests this year’s model isn’t going to bring dramatic hardware changes, as Apple typically rests on its laurels the year after a redesign. So far, there have been no rumors of significant improvements coming down the pike, either.

Numerous unconfirmed reports point to updated AirPods coming soon. These are expected to offer noise cancellation and water resistance. Adding “Hey Siri” support is also possible. Expect AirPods 2 to cost more than the originals, though. A complete redesign is expected in 2020.

Apple couldn’t meet its promise to have the AirPower wireless charger out by the end of December, just as it couldn’t get this multi-device charging mat on store shelves in 2017. Third year’s the charm?

Apple TV becomes a service, not just a device

Expect 2019 to be a watershed year for Apple TV. Not so much for the hardware, but for Apple’s streaming video service, which will reportedly launch in the first half of the year. The company created dozens of television programs at the cost of over a $1 billion, and will reportedly make these free to customers who already own an iPhone, iPad, or Apple TV.

Expect this to spur sales of the Apple TV device. Whether there will be new models to go along with the service is not yet known.

ARKit 2.0 and Augmented Reality go big

The biggest change in last year’s ARKit 2.0 update is shared experiences, a fancy way of saying that two people playing the same augmented reality game can look at the same virtual objects simultaneously. This is going to make AR games far more interesting in 2019.

Lego already introduced an app that embraces this technology, and the next version of Pokémon Go apparently uses it as well. These could be joined by a wave of AR games in 2019.

Whether the preferred platform for AR will be the iPhone or iPad is still up in the air. Phones are lighter but tablets have far larger displays. The next generation iPad could get a new type of scanner that will gave it better AR performance than iPhones. That said, it’s not clear if the first iPad with a Time of Flight (ToF) scanner will be out this year or 2020.