Photo Source: 9to5Mac
According to a chinese-language report (via 9to5Mac), Ming-Chi Kuo is predicting a monster first half of 2020 that would really shake up the company’s hardware portfolio, as well as change up some of their typical release schedules.
First off, Kuo predicts a new MacBook that will do away with the butterfly keyboard in favor of a newly-designed scissor mechanism. This has already been reported on extensively, but Kuo pegs it more specifically in the 2nd Quarter of 2020. This also looks like pretty solid confirmation that major changes won’t be coming to a potential 16″ MacBook Pro that may be released later this month. That model will likely have the latest-gen butterfly design with membrane and redesigned components that debuted earlier this year.
Another bit of news in this report that had started making the rounds previously is that Apple will release an updated iPhone SE 2 early next year. This seems to make sense, as it will fill a gap that currently exists at the bottom of the iPhone lineup. The old SE was too out of date to hang around, but there are many fans of the smaller form factor that are dissatisfied with the trend of iPhones growing larger and larger and want a true replacement. Early next year looks like the right time for Apple to re-release a new smaller iPhone with up to date internals.
The biggest news in this treasure trove is that Kuo believes Apple will release their new AR Glasses in the first quarter of next year. This is the most anticipated new hardware product from Apple since the Watch and it would come early enough for the company to beat most of their potential competitors to the market with a consumer-facing AR wearable.
Releasing new hardware on the leading edge of the market may seem like a stretch for Apple. However, Kuo reiterates his longtime stance that Apple will pull this off by tethering the new glasses to the iPhone for Internet access and most of their processing. This makes perfect sense, and it’s an area that Apple has a lot of experience in thanks to the Apple Watch. Those years of development and refinement should help them deliver a solid first-gen product next year.
The biggest question mark is Kuo mentioning that Apple will be releasing the glasses in cooperation with “third-party brands.” That definitely sounds strange, but there aren’t any real details on what he means here. It could be that Apple will be working with others on frames or different lenses, but that’s just a guess on my part. Apple putting out a reference design for other companies to manufacture products with seems implausible to me given how they have done things since the return of Steve Jobs. However, with no details, I don’t think we can make any real judgements on this statement yet.
Last, I have to mention the most confusing news in Kuo’s report, at least for me. He predicts that a new iPad Pro will also come early next year and will include Time of Flight cameras to enhance the AR experience. That seems like a reasonable next-step upgrade for the Pro, but I find it very odd that Apple would release a new high-end tablet with an updated 3 camera array just like the iPhones 11 Pro and Pro Max later this month, and then turn around and release another upgrade less than six months later.
The iPad Pro typically has a year or longer between hardware refreshes, so Kuo’s prediction would represent a big departure for Apple. What I find interesting is that 9to5Mac’s version of Kuo’s report made no mention of the rumored October refresh that has previously been reported. However, that has been reported widely enough that I have to think there is something coming soon.
Considering that we are looking at an event coming up in a couple of weeks, this is a lot of gear supposedly coming not too long afterward. As an Apple fan, I love it and hope all of this is true. I’m not a MacBook user, but I know people are ready to move on from the butterfly keyboard and for Apple to get back to making great laptops again. As for the iPad Pro and AR Glasses, yeah, those are right in my wheelhouse.