New Products Apple Might Give Us While We Wait for the Car

| Particle Debris

Surely we won't have to wait until 2019 for The Next Big Thing from Apple. After the company's recent Earnings Report, I've been pondering what goodies Apple might give us in the years leading up to the Apple Car in 2019-2020. After all, it's all about the product pipeline. 

When I think about what qualifies as a new Apple product, I think about Apple's legacy. From what I've gleaned:

  1. It may not be the first of its type, but it sets a standard in new ways. It disrupts the current ho-hum products. (iPod)
  2. It fits in with Apple's current family of products and infrastructure. (iCloud)
  3. It moves the state-of-the-art forward. (MacBook)
  4. It has broad appeal and can make money. (Apple Watch)

Here's a list (by no means exhaustive) of things I think Apple might do over the next 3-4 years, while we wait for the iCar, that meet those criteria, in no particular order. It's also a chance to point to some interesting articles I ran across during the week.

1. iCloud Time Machine. There are several different services right now that can back up a Mac to the internet cloud. This list makes me think that this is a service that's ripe for disruption by Apple. That's because one has to research, digest, and evaluate the features and security and (generally) pay for the service separately.

Apple could roll this service out in a version of OS X and charge the customer's Apple ID, perhaps as one of its emerging subscription services. The company could leverage off its security policies and its direct connection to customers. Users of other services might well defect for Apple's integration into the OS and peace of mind working with Apple. See, for example, "Apple’s 'first' subscription service paves the way for more."

2. Siri 2.0 as an AI Agent. Right now, Siri (loosely) is generally natural language parser that's connected to a lookup agent. If Siri thinks it has a digestible question, it  looks up the answer from data sources.

However, one can imagine an AI agent inserted into the mix that could not only look up information but also become intimate with the user. The issue here is that for the AI agent to be really helpful, it has to know a lot about the user, user habits, the apps, and the data on the device. It's what I call the Creepy Factor.

If Apple could figure out how to deliver an AI agent that protected—and felt as if it were protecting—one's privacy rather than invading it, Siri 2.0 could really be helpful. And it would be a precursor technology of great assistance as the UI in the (rumored) Apple car. It also might be so advanced and so cool, it would be another candidate as a subscription service.

3. A 5G Apple TV with 4K+HDR+DVR. This looks fairly easy and obvious. It seems Apple concluded that 4K technologies were not yet ripe in October of 2015. But in the coming 8-14 months, it's almost certain that Apple will jump on the 4K bandwagon because the industry will have settled on High Dynamic Range (HDR) standards for streaming video.

Plus, the major ISPs are likely to get more on board with 4K streaming and re-evaluate their data caps. See page 2 right here, linked below, for more on that.

One nice feature that I'd like to see added is a terabyte of Flash storage and DVR technology (under license) for recording Over the Air (OTA). That would make it a no-brainer to upgrade from the current 4G model, especially for cord-cutters. It's a splendid idea.

4. Apple Watch becomes a super enhanced wearable. I have a feeling that the Apple Watch is just getting started. Nowhere will advanced technologies make themselves more obvious than in the Apple Watch as it also cuts the "cord" from the iPhone: LTE cell phone, sleep monitoring, blood chemistry (starting with blood glucose levels), Dick Tracy-like FaceTime calls, to name a few. While the Apple Watch 2.0 of 2016 may not set the world on fire, by 2019, the Apple Watch will be an amazing, indispensable must-have.

5. New Kinds of iPhone Displays. I've talked about this before, and so have Dave Hamilton and John Braun in MGG 600 (at 1h 12m). There's a basic problem at hand. We are constrained by our device's display size. If the device is large, it's not very portable. If it's small and portable, it's hard to see fine detail in the display. Solving that problem has to be one of our Holy Grails for the near future.

There might be ways to use certain kinds of optical technologies, perhaps combined with inconspicuous eyewear, to interact with a small device but a big display. For example, if the iPhone could project its display in some fashion in space before us and maintain the user interface (or use Siri 2.0), we might be no longer tethered to physical displays. Whether this could be done by 2020 is a long shot, and it depends on whether Apple has been thinking about this all along or not.

Another concept that's often discussed is the rollout/rollup display. This concept was used prominently in the SciFI series Earth: Final Conflict (1997-2002) It seems somehow un-Apple, but Apple may have its own, better take on a graphene-based rollup display.

I could go on, but that's enough for now. It's time for page 2's news debris—which is a little different this week.

Next page: The Tech News Debris for the Week of April 25th. Will Onerous ISP Data Caps Disappear?

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One quibble

It has broad appeal and can make money. (Apple Watch)

Not sure if the AW was a great example. The lack of any breakout of the AW in the quarterly report brings both the “broad appeal” and the “make money” into question. So far I’ve not seen one in the wild and outside of the Apple In Crowd a several hundred dollar iPhone accessory hasn’t lit the world on fire that I’ve seen.

iCloud Time Machine: Yes. I’d love to see this. The trick is to be able to balance what gets pushed up to the cloud. They’re almost there with iCloud document syncing. I would however not want to try to push my whole disk image upstream. It would take weeks and would obliterate my data cap.

Siri 2.0: Maybe. It depends on what it could do and how accurate. I’ve slowly started using Siri, but mostly not.

4K ATV: They could. It would add nothing for me. I think data caps and the lack of content would make it a meh for a lot of people. But I suspect I’m not the target market. I’m debating dropping my Netflix account as I never use it.

Enhanced AW: Great idea. It would have to be a factor of ten more capable with a correspondingly longer time between recharging before I’d even look at it.

New iPhone Displays: That is a very good suggestion. Seriously, not the Google Glasses style though. How about rollable ones. Imagine a device the size of a cigar that you pulled on a handle to unroll a 5 inch wide display. How about an iPhone with as normal display and a little projector built in so you could throw a 2x4 foot image on the wall. How about something like the iPhone SE but that folds like a book so you had twice the display if you wanted it, or could fold it back to use the phone one handed. That would be hot.

Call it the iPhone SEx


Or maybe that would be a better name for the iPhone shaped like a cigar.

John Martellaro

geoduck.  The estimate I saw for the Apple Watch, for Q2, from Maynard Um (Wells Fargo) was:  “Watch sales/units/ASP of $0.8B/2.5MM/$320”.

Previously, for all of 2015, I saw estimates of 7 - 10 million. Even if the total to date is only 10 million, at an ASP of $320, that’s a revenue of $3.2 billion. Nothing compared to the iPhone, but a nice chunk of change.  Worth the effort put into it, I’d say.

John Martellaro

I’ve always been fond of the smartphone concept in the SciFI series “Earth: Final Conflict”.  Recently, someone added a link to that gizmo in a comment to an article of mine.  If anyone has it handy, I’ll edit this article to include a mention.


<a href = “”>Earth Final Conflict</a>


ooops grin

Lee Dronick

My wife and I each have an Apple Watch and I have noticed a number of them on people.

John Martellaro

geoduck: with watchOS 2.2, I’m averaging about 75-80% charge remaining each night when I put it on the charger.

Lee Dronick

John I am usually at 50-60% after 14 hours or so of use. Anyway this watch and I are joined at the hip, er wrist, and I don’t regret buying it, Jennifer would tell you the same thing. The fitness feature has realiy helped, but also the texting, phone calls, timer, HUE app, and more.


I still dont want to select HDMI 2 for Apple TV, and then switch back to HDMI 2 for Normal TV. This still does not solve the whole experience problem. In a perfect World Apple would actually have its own set of TV. Integrating Apple TV inside. Much like there is Mac Mini and iMac, i dont see why Apple TV as an addon devices and Apple TV as a Set could not happily coexist.

Edit: Not sure if the H.265 patents problem has been fixed yet. 

iCloud Time Capsule, this is may be a little too ahead of its time?, considering majority of the world still stuck on DSL broadband, or even no broadband at all. Rather can i have a Time Capsule that does both Mac and iOS backup, and have the option to Backup my Time Capsule to iCloud?

We need some additional innovation in AirPort / Time Capsule.

John Martellaro

ksec. I was just reading that “all 4K television sets launched last year have h.265 decoders.”

If you know something about patent issues affecting production, fill me in.

As for iCloud Time Machine, we discussed your concern in a meeting early Friday.  Such a system would have to be very smart about which files and when it backs them up in a low bandwidth environment. The local Time Machine drive could also serve as an intermediate cache.  It could work.


I can’t help but notice a lot of crapping on the latest ideas in tech lately. This makes me think that the idea factories of the world are woefully out of touch with what people actually want and will utilize. I don’t think the gee-whiz factor is enough anymore, we need to start asking ourselves questions about what is actually pragmatic and useful.

Formerly, that was what I loved about Apple’s stuff - it was eminently usable and useful in the context of my daily life. Technology should address problems that actually exist and not expect users to fundamentally transform the way they live to accommodate *it*, that kinda defeats the purpose. “Disruption’ used to be a viable term, it’s more or less a cliché used in the pursuit of more $$$ in most instances these days. I actually worry about American innovation , we have started going in circles. :/

Where I am, I used to see Apple Watches here and there when they were the cool new thing. Of late, I can’t think of a single sighting on a wrist in the wild, even at my local Apple Store (FitBits however, continue to be ubiquitous)!


Thoughtful MO readers will probably appreciate this recent web post on another Mac forum:

“The decline in overall computer sales, and Apple’s first quarterly decline in Mac sales in over a decade, is largely attributed to the rise of smart phones and tablets which are sufficient to the basic needs of most consumers. But then it stands to reason that the biggest decline in Macs sales is going to be sales to lower-end consumers (who’s needs are now met by iPhones and iPads). “

Lee Dronick

That is a good point Brilor


Nice to hear I wasn’t alone in the correct assessment that the Watch was a fail. Stock is down and they never say how many sold? Hello! Slim that thing and make it autonomous with cheaper price and longer battery.
4k support in Macs would be nice - Apple never went Blu Ray 1080p so I’d be shocked.
A computer that could game like a PC would be nice but forget that, can’t blow off steam playing online World Of - Warships,Tanks,Airplanes simply gorgeous russian designed online sims that Macs are cut out of…
I won’t talk Apple Car because I’ll be dead before what many think might materialize. Check the new Motor Trend cover and multi page article w/tons o’ designs of the car - quite the hoot.



The four indicators you list as qualifications for pipeline products is reasonable. When thinking about a new product entry, to your list I might suggest, ‘It fills an extant or nascent niche that Apple believes will enhance productivity or quality of life’, but perhaps that’s implied.

Nor have I any qualms about your proposed product categories, indeed these seem somewhat predictable given Apple’s current line up, and many of these seem to enjoy Apple’s current support, but clearly need development if they are make further gains in either adoption (Apple Watch) or utility (Siri, iCloud).

Regarding Siri as an AI agent, and the need for Siri to be more intimate with the user, this is a complicated subject for which no easy answer or single size will fit all, and this is because humans are complex and diverse. Apart from the obvious difference in personality types, e.g. introvert vs extrovert, loner vs gregarious, etc, there is the phenomenon known in psychiatry as ‘boundaries’. We all have them; we all recognise and adhere to them with mixed success, whether or not we know of their clinical definition. There are, broadly speaking, appropriate and inappropriate boundaries. These are not determined by personality traits alone, but by type of relationship (e.g. intimate, casual, formal), culture (e.g. expressive, stoic), setting (e.g. private, public), etc.

Before Apple can roll out a more powerful but personalised AI, they will need to do more than essential marketing analysis. The context of such development must involve a social consensus around those boundaries discussed above to address what you describe as the ‘creepy factor’ or conversely as ‘comfort’. Without doubt, a more personalised AI can enhance utility to the user, however there are two essential elements to preserving our comfort with it: 1) the knowledge that it is hardened against any intrusion - no one has access to what we share with it, much like we would expect with either a very trusted friend or a professional confidant like a psychiatrist or an attorney; 2) it can be attenuated by the user as to both user preference (how intimate do we want it to be) and setting (how it interacts to us in different settings, such as public or private - just as we naturally do with our loved ones, friends or colleagues).

Giving the AI such naturally adaptable capability will be no mean feat, and will require a far more nuanced understanding of human nature, far beyond mere natural language recognition. However, not providing that control to the user, but instead imposing a common intimacy standard, will not merely heighten user discomfort with the AI, particularly across the global swathe of cultures and settings in which Apple plays, but will impede AI adoption and utility, more so if there is any chance that user confidentiality can be compromised.

As for the terabyte service Comcast are piloting, perhaps I’m missing something, but this strikes me as yet another natural and inevitable progression. These carriers want to make money, which means that they have to remain competitive, which in turn means that they have to offer services that people desire, which means that they have to anticipate where this market is heading, including the expansion into more data-intensive consumption at competitive costs. They don’t have to be cheap, just competitive with, if not cheaper than, the competition. By the time we get to virtualised, interactive 3D holography, we will be consuming petabytes per week. They will all want to play in that space if/when we get there.

A final comment about the Apple Watch. This is clearly a device, in whose current configuration and limitations, addresses a limited subset of Apple clients. Within that subset, and ignoring those for whom it has no appeal (or use), there are those for whom its functionality is limited but useful (as Bryan Chaffin likes to say, he likes his AW, but he doesn’t love it) and those for whom it has become essential kit. This device has become part of my essential work arsenal; allowing me to stay on top of appointments, including some hastily arranged but essential conference calls that I did not enter into my calendar and would have otherwise missed, make connections in transit through busy airports, triage calls and texts, monitor data and much more, so much so that now, when my iPhone vibrates, I look at my watch first to see if I need to answer or ignore for now. It’s made me more efficient, not to mention the health and fitness functions, which I use daily. If it is to have a greater market, and I think it potentially can, its utility will have to be buttressed by both a more capable and faster CPU, apps, and very importantly, more capable sensors for monitoring personal data. I see us getting there.

Lee Dronick

  Nice to hear I wasn’t alone in the correct assessment that the Watch was a fail.

It hasn’t failed yet, if indeed it ever will, and no amount of specious statements by you will change that this is only the beginning. It is too early to tell.

Lee Dronick

  not to mention the health and fitness functions, which I use daily.

Oh yes! Using the workout application has helped me lose weight and inches, while increasing stamina. I could have gotten a FitBit or something, but the additional features of the Watch make it a better choice for me.


It hasn’t failed yet, if indeed it ever will, and no amount of specious statements by you will change that this is only the beginning. It is too early to tell.

I agree. It can’t be called a failure. Even if it didn’t reach the numbers John quoted by Maybord Um, which I think are optimistic, it is selling to a small subset of Apple users. However as far as the postulate that

It has broad appeal and can make money. (Apple Watch)

Not yet. Maybe someday, but so far it doesn’t have broad appeal. And as far as making money, I think it it were raking in huge profits Apple would be more forthcoming with the numbers. But for that matter none of the other smart watches, or any wearables do. They are selling in significant numbers to certain demographics, but not broadly. There needs to be a paradigm shift. something that separates them from the non-smart predecessors. As the iPhone, by going full touch screen and eliminating the chicklet keyboard did.

Oh and John thanks for putting the info about Earth Final Conflict. I remembered the device but could not think of where I had seen it.


And as far as making money, I think it it were raking in huge profits Apple would be more forthcoming with the numbers.

Not necessarily. I sincerely doubt that Apple is cowering in the corner, afraid to publish poor numbers. I do believe their decisions are strategic. Regardless, I look forward to buying a second Gen Watch and I think it will be very useful to me. Over the next 2-3 years, I think there will be two paradigm shifts that will accelerate Watch - more and more medical integration, and further improvements to Siri. As the average American ages in his/her extremely unhealthy ways, more and more will move toward Apple Watch to help motivate exercise, monitor fitness, and more importantly monitor and help offset their ever increasing medical conditions (high cholesterol, diabetes, high blood pressure, etc.). Apple is investing on the medical infrastructure and the sky’s the limit on what watch can and will be able to do. Forget life alert and other gadgets. Children of aging baby boomers and later Generations will buy 70+-year-old mommy and daddy iPhones and Watches to monitor their vitals, enable opening garage doors and unlocking house doors, turning on lights, monitoring security, watching to make sure mommy and daddy haven’t fallen, make sure mommy and daddy are watching their blood sugar. HUGE potential here. And, improving Siri to be more intuitive will help Americans as they age. (Into their watches) “Siri, I’m not feeling well. How’s my blood sugar?” (Siri) Blood sugar at normal levels. “How about my pulse and blood pressure?” (Siri) Pulse is racing but blood pressure is normal. “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up.” (Siri) I will call 911 and also your son. Also, if your left arm is tingling then I suggest your husband bring you some aspirin to take immediately.

The integration of medical with the watch, probably combined wirelessly with other wearables that can monitor medical functions elsewhere on your body, will help grow wearables as very useful device, and Apple is better positioned than anyone to lead the way.


Also, keep in mind medical is high margin, so makes perfect sense for Apple to be involved. I do see us moving toward tri-corder-type technology for diagnosing and monitoring medical conditions, and that matches up perfectly with iPhone and Watch. Heart rate is just the start.


If Siri becomes as useful as you describe (and I have no doubt it will), I want it embodied as an automaton to help around the house.

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