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How Apple’s 2023 Will Change Everything: Ultra, Max, And The Next Big Thing

And thoughts on the HomePod and AirPods Max.

On the Mac side, Apple’s 2022 was a little sluggish, but 2023 should be a much better year. But what about Apple’s most important product, the iPhone? What about the remainder of Apple’s product lineup, including product lines that have not yet been launched? 2023 promises to be a momentous year. Here are my predictions for Apple’s upcoming iPhone, AirPods, HomePod, and AR/VR headset.

A new iPhone, sort of

By all accounts, Apple should update the iPhone’s overall design language in 2023, as the current design has been in place for three model years since the iPhone 12 line was introduced in late 2020.

The iPhone line, however, is not what it once was. There are now two distinct iPhone model tiers, the iPhone and the iPhone Pro, each with two sizes. The Pro models have been gradually differentiating themselves from the non-Pro line, and it’s worth considering whether Apple truly intends to redesign four phone models in a single cycle.

I believe that it won’t occur. There may be some minor changes to the iPhone 15’s design (all new iPhones will feature USB-C ports instead of Lightning, for example), but I suspect it will continue to resemble the iPhone 14 for at least another year. However, there is one feature of the iPhone 14 Pro that I believe will be included in the iPhone 15: Dynamic Island.

The Dynamic Island is one of Apple’s most ingenious iPhone interface updates in recent years, and there’s a case to be made that it should only be available on the more expensive iPhone Pro models. But consistency across a product line has value, and Apple can add the Dynamic Island to the iPhone 15 without removing the majority of differentiation between the product lines.

I also wonder if the iPhone 15 Pro will have a similar appearance to the iPhone 14 Pro. You’d think this would be the year Apple introduces a new iPhone design, and you’d be correct. I believe Apple will take the same approach it did with the Apple Watch Ultra and introduce a new high-end model with design flourishes that will eventually be incorporated into the rest of the line.

The iPhone 14 Pro Max has been replaced by the iPhone 15 Ultra, a new large model, boldly designed, and equipped with a camera subsystem, unlike anything we’ve ever seen on an iPhone. Apple has been rumored to be experimenting with a periscope-based system to increase focal length for some time. People who desire the most advanced iPhones will have to pay a premium for the privilege. Moreover, guess what? A large number of people will.

Wearables, Home, and Accessories

It is difficult to anticipate what modifications Apple will make to its line of accessories. Except for the aging and eccentric first-generation AirPods Max headphones, the AirPods lineup appears to be quite solid. So, I’ll go out on a limb and predict that a better-designed, more practical pair of AirPods Max headphones will be released in 2023.

When I consult my Magic 8-Ball regarding the Apple Watch, I receive the following response: “Reply hazy; try again later.” I anticipate a minor redesign of the standard Apple Watch to incorporate some of the features of the Apple Watch Ultra, specifically the Action button. I’m not confident that 2023 will be the year that Apple refreshes the Apple Watch’s design.

And in terms of home technology, even though I’ve been repeatedly wrong in predicting Apple’s introduction of new home-based products, I choose to believe that Apple was merely biding its time, waiting for the Matter specification to be finalized before taking action. (Give me this, all right?) So, I’ll do it again: I predict that Apple will introduce a new product for the home!

The inquiry is, what? Perhaps it will be an updated version of the original, larger HomePod. Perhaps it will be a home-theater device that combines tvOS and speakers to create an awesome soundbar. Possibly a HomePod with a display for the kitchen. I don’t know which scenario is most probable, but Apple must do something, right?

A big dose of reality

Finally, the grand finale. After years of rumors and what appears to be multiple delays in 2022, it seems likely that Apple will unveil its new augmented-reality headset in 2023.

My best guess is that Apple will announce the product at a spring event and ship it later in the summer after developers have had time to delve into the specifics of how to create applications for a brand-new Apple platform.

I will also go against the grain regarding rumors that the product will be prohibitively expensive and sell in minute quantities. That sounds nothing like an Apple product launch to me. Don’t get me wrong; I’m certain it will be expensive. But I suspect it will cost less than the $2,000-plus price tag mentioned in some reports, even if Apple must forego its customary high-profit margins to get it to market.

Apple will want to encourage people, or at least the bold, to give this product a try. In addition, the product must have a market and an audience for developers to be motivated to create apps. Apple will be highly motivated to release this first headset and begin building momentum, and a prohibitively expensive developer kit is not the way to do so.

Some of these predictions will be incorrect. But I am confident that many of them will be accurate or close to it; if so, 2023 could be the most exciting year for Apple watchers in a decade. I can’t wait to see what happens next, and, of course, for all my predictions to be proven correct.

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