Hardware

Three Apple predictions for 2017

What does Apple have in store for 2017? Erik Eckel lists three predictions, including one particularly bold prognostication.

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Image: Jessica Dolcourt/CNET

Predictions are a tricky business. Suggesting that Apple's port elimination trend would continue was a safe bet in January of this year. The forecast proved correct when new MacBook Pros were introduced that emphasize USB-C ports and iPhone 7s hit the scene packing a single lightning port and no audio jack.

My prediction that Apple would introduce its own streaming service in 2016? Well, we're all still waiting for that one.

What innovations or changes does Apple have in store for 2017? Here are three predictions I'm making; post your own by joining the discussion below.

SEE: Apple rumored to launch three iPad Pro models in spring 2017 (ZDNet)

1: New desktop models

With high certainty, look for Apple to introduce faster desktop computers. I believe Apple will introduce both boosted Mac Pro models possessing faster IO speeds, more potent processors, and even more capable video cards.

Don't be surprised if iMacs and Mac minis receive video processor, CPU, and IO improvements, too. I suspect these desktop models will begin using SSDs exclusively, too, beginning in 2017.

Less likely is the introduction of an improved Mac keyboard for desktops that includes Apple's new Touch Bar. But if the Touch Bar were to arrive in desktop keyboards, the move would signal the innovation is more than just a gimmick for high-end MacBook Pro laptops.

SEE: Tim Cook says 'great desktops' are on the way for Apple (TechRepublic)

2: A Siri-powered Bluetooth speaker

Amazon's Dot and Echo, which features Alexis, and Google's Home, which boasts its own voice-activated assistant, are proving popular. Yet, Apple has no official Siri-compatible Bluetooth speaker capable of receiving and responding to voice commands, playing streaming music, and performing other hands-free conveniences.

I wouldn't be surprised if Apple introduces its own voice-activated, Siri-compatible speaker in 2017. What could prove surprising is if Apple introduces a couple higher-end models possessing more impressive fidelity than is normal for such speakers. Considering Apple owns Beats, which manufactures speakers recognized by many for their sound quality, I'm surprised they haven't already introduced such models.

3: Touch-screen MacBooks

Microsoft's generating headlines (if not equally robust sales) with its Surface Pro 4 touch-screen tablets, and that could be all the reason Apple needs to add touch-screen displays to its laptop lineup. While users can add a Smart Keyboard to an iPad Pro, there are still plenty of business users wanting or requiring the storage and performance traditionally associated with notebook computers.

If Apple provides a touch-screen option, I would expect Apple to also re-engineer the display's lid to enable swiveling the screen and folding the tablet back upon itself, which is the configuration often found in medical environments. That's a much taller order and, should the prediction fail to materialize, the first likely reason this bold prediction proves wrong. Apple may not be willing to sink such investment into reconfiguring a laptop lineup that's already widely considered by many to provide the best performing notebooks, pound-for-pound.

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About Erik Eckel

Erik Eckel owns and operates two technology companies. As a managing partner with Louisville Geek, he works daily as an IT consultant to assist small businesses in overcoming technology challenges and maximizing IT investments. He is also president o...

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