The Apple of today is not the Apple of yesteryear. In the Steve Jobs era, secrecy over future products was an obsession, and while the company still likes to keep tight-lipped, it seems sometimes as though it's so large and working on so many different things, that information about those products can't help but leak out, like mustard from an overfull sandwich.
As Apple tries valiantly to keep its cards close to its chest, eagle-eyed enthusiasts are poring over everything from support documents to underlying code in order to find hints about what the company's next project is.
If you're the kind of person who enjoys knowing-it-all about what Apple may be working on—and, let's face it, you're reading Macworld, so you are—then you live for these sorts of tidbits. So, while we're all still stuck in our homes and desperately looking to the future as an escape, let's take a quick spin through devices that we're reasonably certain Apple is getting ready to unleash.
SE what I mean?
Some folks have been waiting for a new low-cost iPhone since well before Apple discontinued the iPhone SE, and indications seem to be that it's imminent. A Belkin screen protector for sale on Apple's own store listed compatibility with the iPhone 8, iPhone 7, and iPhone SE, lending credence to the theory that new version of that cheaper model will come in roughly same size and shape as the current lower end iPhones.
In the past, Apple has released smaller iPhone updates—including the original iPhone SE and the (Product)Red iPhone 8 in the spring, as it's midway through the annual refresh cycle. And, if the impacts of the coronavirus do end up delaying this year's new high-end iPhones, Apple could even afford to let the new iPhone SE come out a bit later than previous mid-cycle models, which generally have appeared in March or early April.
Finally, the confirmation of the SE name—which has deep history, all the way back to one of the earliest Macs—does seem to bolster the idea of Apple filling the low-cost end of its iPhone line-up with a "new" model of phone every couple years. If the previous SE is any indication, expect this older chassis to contain some updated internals, for a price that won't break the bank.
Get over your ears
Apple's had great success with the AirPods and AirPods Pro, so it only makes sense that the company would venture into other types of headphones as well. After all, good as in-ear headphones are, they don't accommodate every type of ear or every use case.
That appears to have been backed up by leaks of images from upcoming builds of iOS, showing headphone glyphs in white and black, that resemble some of the Beats over-the-ear headphones that are already sold by Apple's music subsidiary. The glyphs show up in places that you'd expect to see headphones represented, such as iOS's battery widget. (This isn't the first time unreleased Apple headphones have been found via such a method: the recently released Powerbeats 4 were first uncovered in an iOS update.)
The real question: what's Apple going to call these headphones? AirPods Pro might have seemed like an appropriate moniker, but of course that's taken. I've got my money on "AirPods Studio," but hey, that's just me.
Where there's smoke, there's fire, as the old saying goes, and in this case, there's so much smoke, you should probably dial 911.
Apple's long been rumored to be working on small tracking fobs that would compete with products from the likes of Tile, and one leak after another has pretty much confirmed that they exist, from code found in iOS builds to a mention in one of Apple's own support videos. AirTags: They're happening. It's just a matter of when.
The idea behind AirTags is like a supercharged version of those other Bluetooth trackers: small fobs that you can attach to items like your keys or your wallet, allowing you to find those items if you misplace them. But more than just registering where they were last seen, the AirTags are said to be able to relay their position via any nearby Apple devices, making them even more useful.
This is the rare case where Apple holding on to a project is not only feasible, but likely wise. As my friend Myke Hurley remarked on a recent episode of the Upgrade podcast, there's no point in releasing a product to help you find things you lose outside of the house when nobody's leaving the house.