Apple has been enormously successful in developing products that solve customer problems by elegantly merging its software to amazing hardware. And so, in 2016, it'll be about time for Apple to start converting all that revenue and cash on hand into some serious leadership roles, not just me too products, incrementally upgraded.
Leadership isn't just financial success with products customers want and enjoy. Leadership is also an outwardly visible commitment, over a long period of time, to products that Apple believes in. It also means using Apple's technical expertise and trustworthiness to influence the industry in areas where Apple is now following the pack, losing its lead, or needs to seize greater opportunity.
Here are my wishes for Apple leadership in 2016. I've made a list and checked it twice.
1. Advance the State-of-the-Art in Tablets with iOS and iPads
iPad Pro. Image credit: Apple
When the original iPad shipped in 2010, it had a tiny fraction of the CPU and GPU power of today's iPads, especially the 2015 iPad Pro. Along the way, iOS somehow got pigeon-holed as a smartphone OS that can also be used with iPads, and that hasn't worked out so well in my opinion. Many customers with iPhone 6 Pluses and 6s Pluses don't need even an iPad Air. What's more, the latest and greatest technologies, including a barometer and NFC + Apple Pay are on the iPhones, not the iPads.
Everything in tech changes, grows, and generally gets better. iOS, now more than ever, needs to grow and exploit the iPad hardware. We've seen hits of APple's thinking with P.I.P, Split View and Slide Over, but there's more to be done.
For example, a 12.9-inch display cries out for a window manager. Here's a neat concept video that suggests what could be done.
Next, while I'm not suggesting that iOS apps could be built on an iPad Pro (thanks to the structure of iOS and security restrictions), it would be nice to see greater emphasis on scripting and coding on the iPad Pro. Python or Ruby support of some kind, even if sandboxed, would be welcomed by students.
Home screen app management hasn't gotten any better in years. A 12.9-inch display on the iPad Pro cries out for more sophisticated presentation, arrangement, and management of app icons.
Finally, I'd like to see continued exploitation of the Apple pencil as a pointing tool. Support for the Apple Pencil in the iPad Air 3 would punctuation Apple's direction in this regard.
And by the way, I look forward to Apple solving the Apple Pencil supply chain problem, whatever it is. This has been a terrible blunder by Apple, but the company can still save the day once inventory is plentiful in ... January?
2. Announce a New Mac Pro
Mac Pro. Image credit: Apple.
We fret. We fret because we worry that Apple has lost heart in its support of technical professionals who want and expect the best computational platform from Apple. When Apple SVP Phil Schiller announced the Mac Pro at WWDC in June of 2013, we had already waited in much pain and angst for an update to that line. It would be a shame to see Apple's magnificent enthusiasm from 2013 turns into a dismal, depressing fade to black.
If Apple were to announce a next generation Mac Pro that relaxed some hardware constraints, made some minor concession to expandability, included the latest Xeon processors, all would be forgiven. Apple could say, we waited until we could deliver another quantum leap! All would be forgiven.
Of course, a 42-inch, curved, 5K, IPS display to go along with it wouldn't hurt. The current 27-inch Thunderbolt display is an outright embarrassment to Apple, and the art of leadership is never having embarrassing products.
Next page: The 4K UHD Apple TV and Apple's Education DNA