2023 for Apple promises to be a big year. Will the Mac Pro offer big performance? Will we see a super-sized iPad Pro? And how much bigger are the iPhone prices going to get? It’s our look ahead at what we expect to see from Apple in 2023, on the Macworld Podcast!
This is episode 820 with Jason Cross, Michael Simon, and Roman Loyola.
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Transcript of Macworld Podcast episode 820: What to expect in 2023 from Apple
RL: 2023 for Apple promises to be a big year. Will the Mac Pro offer big performance? Will we see a supersized iPad Pro? And how much bigger are the iPhone prices going to get? It’s our look ahead at what we expect to see from Apple in 2023 coming up on the Macworld Podcast. Stick around.
Welcome to the Macworld Podcast. I’m Roman Loyola [RL] here with Jason Cross [JC].
JC: Good morning.
RL: And Michael Simon [MS].
MS: Hello, sir.
RL: Last week, we took a look back at Apple’s accomplishments for 2022. This time, we’re going to look ahead to 2023 with some ideas and predictions on what we think Apple will do. I thought we’d do this by product category like we did last week.
So let’s start with a category that does not exist yet–AR and VR hardware because I know you guys want to talk about that right off the bat. That’s what everyone’s waiting for.
JC: That’s got to be the big thing. It’s been a couple of years now where we’ve been going, is it coming next year? The odds are best for next year so far. No guarantees, but it seems like finally we may actually see something next year.
RL: Is it going to be a headset like the Oculus or…?
MS: I think it’s going to be closer to that or maybe a HoloLens than it is to a pair of glasses.
JC: By what the hardware people say it is, is inside it, is going to be more like the Oculus with pass-through video. It’s got cameras and it passes through video. It’s not going to be clear.
MS: They seem to want you to wear it outside. It’s going to have to be somewhat slick. People walking around with Oculus are going to be like, what on earth is that guy doing?
JC: Yeah, I’m not talking about the size of it. People say it’s like high-tech ski goggles or something. I’m talking about it’s not going to be clear plastic you look through.
JC: It’s going to be an opaque thing that blocks out all your vision and they’re going to pipe in video from cameras to screens to provide your view of the outside world. This first version is apparently that because judging from the display technology that they, all the rumors say that they’re getting this stuff from these micro OLEDs from Sony and stuff, That’s not how you would project images onto clear plastic. That’s a screen you look at. It’s a tiny screen with really, really tiny pixel density that you look at.
This first version, which they might even pitch as a developer thing that anyone can buy, but some expensive developer kit that anyone can buy, is going to be that. Then the goggles or glasses or something that has a clear view of the outside world with a projection on it, is a later product.
MS: The rumors from several years ago that it’s going to be like two, two or $3,000 for the first version of whatever this thing is. Since then, there have been rumors that there’s a pro headset and a regular headset. And so I don’t know, maybe that original rumor was for if it was releasing in 2021, now that it’s 2023 at the earliest, which, you know, they’re not late. But they’re also not early. Like AR had its moment and it’s kind of like, you know, people are like, all right, so the phone thing, the Google Daydream and the Samsung Gear VR, that didn’t work. Oculus is like…
JC: That was all VR, yeah.
MS: Yeah, that was like the first iteration of this stuff. Remember when you can go to Verizon and get like a cardboard thing that you can build and pop your phone into?
MS: Like that stuff didn’t work.
JC: Oculus is doing all right.
MS: Oculus is doing okay, yeah, but it’s still not mainstream. Like it hasn’t had that killer application or that killer something that’s made it like a thing that everybody wants.
JC: Right. It’s a general consumer thing for regular people.
MS: Yeah. And it’s relatively affordable. It’s not super expensive. What’s it? 300 bucks? Something like that.
JC: Yeah. A little more than that. And they’re everywhere. I mean, they’re at the big box stores and they’re selling several millions.
MS: And there’s lots of commercials for them. You see them all over the place. There’s a sports thing. There’s dedicated sports VR that I see when I’m watching football games and stuff. They’re trying to make that push.
JC: That’s VR, though, too. And PlayStation, PlayStation’s VR, there’s a new VR thing coming. The only AR stuff that’s ever happened has not ever come to consumers, right?
MS: Yeah, Google Glass is the big one.
JC: Well, that’s not AR at all. Never.
JC: That’s a heads-up display. That did not change the view on your screen to match the environment at all. It just put a monocolored like–not monocolored, it just put a little bit of screen in front of your eye. As you moved your head and stuff, nothing shifted. It was a heads-up display. Yeah, because otherwise, that would have been amazing tech for the time.
MS: Yeah, for the time. All right. So what comparable AR things are out there?
JC: The Microsoft HoloLens. That’s real AR.
MS: Which is very, very expensive.
JC: It’s very expensive. It’s a business play. It’s in factories and stuff like that. And it’s great for that, but that’s where it’s at. And it’s got problems where it would never really be a consumer thing. And then what was the Magically Tried?
MS: Magic Leap. It was like a backpack you had to wear.
JC: Yeah, it had a puck you put in your pocket and then a cable that went up to the glasses part and I don’t even know how many they ever shipped. I mean, they had some early adopters I think who got some from a wait list or I don’t even remember but it’s a few thousand. They never really went anywhere with that. That’s kind of the only actual augmented reality stuff.
MS: I tried the back at CES, I don’t know how many years ago back when I used to cover Android, I tried HoloLens and a demo and it was fine. I didn’t walk away thinking, my God, this is the future of anything. It was just it was interesting and that was like this version. It was whatever the version.
JC: HoloLens 2.
MS: It’s a new one since, yeah.
JC: Its main issue is that the AR part is a little window in the middle of your vision. It’s not nearly wide enough. It’s a tiny little field of view. It doesn’t have the battery life, processing power, field of view, all these other things necessary to be something you walk down the street with and have a useful experience as a regular person.
MS; Even if we hadn’t heard a single rumor about what this is going to be, that’s their play. They don’t…They’re a consumer company. They’re going to make consumer products. It’s going to be quite different from anything we know once it arrives.
JC: Yeah. I’m curious how this first version is going to… where its balance is going to be in terms of VR versus AR stuff because if they’re doing what the latest Oculus, that Pro Oculus, I can’t remember what they called it. Oculus does pass-through video. It’s blocking out your screen, but it’s got cameras and it passes through the video so you can see your surroundings. This was the first one where they did that in color. It’s always a little janky because the resolution is not good enough and the refresh isn’t fast enough and it doesn’t quite look like you’re looking at reality. It’s more just so you can not bump into things and stuff.
MS: They don’t recommend walking around with it on either.
JC: Well, yeah and it’s not really made for that because they don’t do things like–they don’t have location and stuff on it.
MS: It’s called the MetaQuest Pro by the way and it’s $1500.
JC: Right. The Quest 2 has pass-through video but it’s like super low res and black and white and stuff. But if that’s, technologically, if that’s what Apple is doing, it’s going to have to be really super high-quality pass-through video to be AR.
MS: Which is what we’ve heard that it’s insanely high quality. The rumors are like 8K screens, two of them, and an M1 processor.
JC: But the cameras themselves that are passing video in have to be really high quality, HDR, super low latency. There’s a million technical problems they need to solve. Or it’s just going to be a really crappy AR experience and mostly a VR headset. It is going to be this first thing, a mixed reality thing. It can do either.
MS: Yeah, they say that. All the rumors say mixed reality but the specific rumor we’ve heard are mainly AR related. That’s the hook. There’ll be VR stuff. But yeah, the main thing is that they want it to be a wearable device like the Apple Watch that you replace your phone with and you use out and about and do things with that you would normally go into your pocket, check your–I don’t know, if you’re looking at a restaurant, check a menu. I don’t know what it’s going to do, but it’s going to augment your world in some way that is a device that you’re going to want to have on you all the time and not just when you want to play a game.
JC: It’s going to have a developer SDK and an app store and all that other stuff. The killer apps may be not from Apple.
The thing that makes me think it may actually come next year, whatever it is, is that the latest rumors suggest that the heads of the software development for all of Apple’s sort of core apps like iMessage and Maps and stuff like that are now getting involved. That tells me like, okay, they’ve got the hardware figured out to the point where they can–the hardware and the software development and stuff like that figured out to the point where they can widen the circle of secrecy within Apple to bring in these important things. They’re not going to make these guys do everything twice and everything. They’re going to be in on the last year getting some killer messages experience or whatever.
MS: That’s the three focuses of allegedly according to Mark Gurman’s report a couple months ago was messaging, communication, media, movies and stuff, and games. So there’s a rumor that at iOS 17, messages are going to get a huge overhaul which ties into what would happen here. like there’s a lot of pieces kind of falling into place. And I agree with Jason. 2023 seems like the time to do it.
First of all it’s been a while since Apple had a big splash, you know their products over the last few years have been great but it hasn’t been like you know…Apple Watch was a big deal, HomePod wasn’t so there’s still like there’s what, seven or six or seven years between like the last big thing and now.
RL: If you were to project an announcement date, WWDC seems like an appropriate time?
MS: I don’t know well here’s the thing it depends on how they want to sell it if they’re pitching into developers and they realize it’s a thing that’s out of reach which for consumers, both price and functionality, then yes. If they do want it to be something that gets a lot of attention from consumers and people spend $1,000 or $800, however much it’s going to cost, then they’ll have a standalone event or tacking onto the iPhone event or something like that.
JC: I think it really all just depends on how far along they are for release. If they actually want to release it in the fall of 2023, I think showing it at WWDC but not giving the price and stuff, but actually showing the thing and getting an SDK and saying developers can sign up to get a development unit and stuff like that, that makes sense. And then in September at the iPhone event, we would get pricing and release date. If it’s further away, it could also be something like they did with the Apple Watch where they kind of announce it with the iPhone event and it ships in the beginning of 2024.
MS: Oh, next year. Yeah, sure. Yeah, there was a huge gap–Apple Watch was revealed in September, it didn’t ship till the following April. So they could absolutely do that. Same thing with the original iPhone, it was January to June. So that’s not uncommon for Apple to do at all.
JC: Yeah, especially when it’s a whole new category and they need to manufacture this thing.
That takes away that pressure to try and manufacture it in secret, which is really hard to do. But they could always have them at WWDC and it’s like, well, here’s what it is and here’s what the specs are and here’s how you develop for it. You can sign up for developers to buy a special dev unit and then consumer pricing and really state during the fall. They can always do that too. We’ll get a lot of more interesting rumors as the year rolls on, as 2023 rolls on. It’ll start to crystallize sort of like what this thing is and what it’ll cost.
RL: Well, we always get a spring announcement, but the spring announcement could be the Mac Pro, maybe an iMac Pro, and then WWDC gets dedicated to the headset. I could see that happening.
JC: For hardware, yeah. I mean, obviously, they’re going to talk about the new OS’s at WWDC.
MS: Yeah, it’s supposed to be xrOS, which stands for Extended Reality OS. That’s like a whole new thing.
RL: More anticipated products for 2023, I think, besides the headset, maybe the next most anticipated product for 2023 is the Mac Pro.
MS: I think so, yeah. Even though 99 percent of the people listening to this aren’t going to buy one. It’s still something we all–and I include myself there–but I absolutely want to see what it looks like and what it does and what’s inside and all that stuff.
JC: Yeah, purely from a whether it’s an interesting perspective, right? Even though it’s not for me and it’s not for you and it’s not for anyone, but it sure is interesting. Yeah. It’s just fun to think what is Apple going to do for its most powerful computer.
MS: Is it a tower? Is it expandable? Does it have slots for cards? There are a million questions. Is it an Ultra? Is it something that we haven’t seen yet? Is there a new Pro Display XDR that goes with it with ProMotion? There are a lot of questions.
JC: It’s two M2 Ultras. It’s two to four.
MS: It could be. I mean, it could be.
JC: Yeah. It’s going to have configurations from two to four. No cards. Apple’s going to call it expandable because it has Thunderbolt ports. Well, I’m putting my stakes in the ground now.
It’s going to be two Apple Studios stacked on top of each other.
RL: So you guys don’t think they’ll use a tower like the current Mac Pro? Or they’re redefining the definition of “tower” for Mac?
MS: It depends on the support for PCIx carts. If it does, if they team up with Nvidia or AMD or make their own, which probably isn’t going to happen, but if they support graphics cards or audio cards or whatever, ethernet cards, whatever you would need there, it’s going to have to be a tower. If not, the sky’s the limit. Look at the trash can. They’ve done funky designs with the Mac Pro before.
JC: I feel like no matter what it is, it’s not going to be a tower like the one we have. I think if you look at a lot of PCs, small form factor PCs that can fit a graphics card, they have a PCI slot, but they’re these little rectangular cans. I think if it’s got a slot you can use, it’s going to be something like that. It’s not going to be…basically shrink the current Mac Pro 50 percent in each direction, that kind of thing. Because the need for the motherboard and all that stuff that they have now is just not going to be there. The way they do their system on ships and stuff like that and cooling it and all that other, everything else about it, it’s just not necessary.
MS: Yeah. I mean, look at the Mac Studio, which is basically as fast as the current Intel Mac Pro in some measurements and it’s what, an eighth of the size.
JC: I think you can stack a couple of two or three of those on top of each other or something like that to get an idea of the volume of this thing, even if it’s not the same shape that’s just sort of…
MS: Well, I mean, that’s the thing. Apple, over the years, the Mac Pro has been like its striking professional desktop machine. It always has a design that’s very different from what else is out there. I’m talking about in their own lineup like the G5 had that silvery look, the G4 had the door that opens and the handles, like it never quite matches the rest of the line purposefully.
Like they want to kind of set it apart. So I’m curious to see design-wise, what it looks like.
RL: Stay with the Mac line. So there’ve been rumors that Apple is going to come out with an iMac Pro. Do you guys think that will happen?
MS: Just this week, we got a pretty strong one. So, just a quick history, the iMac Pro was discontinued last year. It came out in I think, 2017, I think. But never received an update. Was a good machine, but it was always seen as like a stopgap between the cylinder Mac Pro and the new Mac Pro when it arrived. So that went away last year.
And then earlier this year when the MacStudio and the 27-inch Studio Display came out, the 27-inch iMac went away, the non-$5,000 one.
JC: Now the only iMac you can get, Max is out at an M1, although they’ll do an M2 update, but no Pro, no Max or Ultra or anything. And it’s a 24-inch display and that’s it. And that’s a little small for some people. That 27-inch size with the 5K display was a lot nicer.
MS: Yeah, it’s only three inches but it’s a big difference when you’re looking at like, I mean, they make a 14-inch MacBook Pro and a 16-inch MacBook Pro. So you can, like it’s obviously a difference there in what you can do and the size you want.
So there was a rumor this week that Apple was going to come out with a 27-inch iMac Pro for whatever that actually means, probably just M2 Pro, M2 Max processors sometime next year which would be I think good for the iMac line. I mean, I don’t know how much they sell anymore because everybody loves MacBooks and everybody, you know, MacBooks are clearly their number one seller.
JC: It seems like a given that it’s just going to be, sure, it’ll be M2 Pro and Macs, maybe Ultra but at least M2 Pro, you know, just like the MacBook Pro, you know, is. But I’m interested in what they’re going to do with the display. Is it going to be like the new Studio Display where it’s just a 5K display and that’s it? No high refresh rate, no variable refresh rate, no HDR, no none of that stuff. Or is it going to be a modern display that gives you something more than just…the same 5K display they’ve had in iMacs and stuff for so many years.
MS: Right. We’re talking HDR, we’re talking ProMotion, the things that… so, the 27-inch studio display, it should be noted, has none of those things. It starts at $600 and it’s just.
JC: A 4.5K display that’s it. Is it 4.5K or is it 5K?
MS: Oh, 5K. Oh, yeah. I’m thinking of the iMac. The iMac is 4.5K.
JC: It’s pretty much exactly the same as the 27-inch iMac’s display except a slightly brighter,
max brightness. Yeah. Still DCI-
MS: And it doesn’t have a power button.
JC: Yeah, no power button and all these other weird things. I can see why they wouldn’t add a size that big. I can see why ProMotion would be tricky because ProMotion is not just variable refresh rate, which is the bigger deal. It’s also up to 120 or 90 or something and I can see why that.–but they got to do HDR, especially when they’re doing all of this Apple TV stuff and everything. That’s the killer. That is your killer streaming platform computer if it’s 27 inches, has an HDR display, every dorm room in America is going to want that because you can kick back and watch it like a TV.
MS: Yeah, if you want an HDR display from For example, right now, you got to spend $5,000 on the Pro Display XDR. It’s crazy.
JC: Yeah. That’s just crazy when you look at what the PC market’s doing. The best, craziest QLED, backlit things are $1,200 or something. They’re not professionally calibrated and all that other stuff. Those aren’t pro displays, but just in terms of what you can get as a consumer, it’s not even in the ballpark.
RL: Speaking of that Pro Display XDR, do you think that’ll be replaced once the Mac Pro gets released?
MS: Yeah, I think it should be. I would assume that gets ProMotion. Maybe it gets the studio display treatment with the camera and speakers and stuff too.
JC: Yeah, that’s the next thing it really needs.
RL: The other new Mac that we’re kind of hoping for in 2023 is the replacement for the Intel-based Mac mini, which is still in Apple’s lineup.
MS: If they sell two of those a year, that’s too many. They have to get rid of it, which they don’t really need it with an M2. If they put an M2 in there, it’s fine or update it. One of the two things has to happen. It’s criminal that they still sell that thing. It’s $1,100. It’s more than the M1 version and markedly slower.
JC: It all just needs an update. They need a slightly new design with more ports and stuff like that and then scrap the Intel.
MS: The M2 came out in June at WWDC and then their 13-inch MacBook Pro got it and the MacBook Air got it and that’s it. So the iMac is still M1, the Mac mini is still M1 and it’s strange that Apple didn’t upgrade at least the Mac mini which came out at the same time as those other two computers with the M2. So the rumor that we heard today was that maybe they would put an M3 in the Mac mini later this year and then an M2 in the Mac mini in the spring with the M2 Pro going in the Intel version that’s still being sold. So I don’t know how any of that, yeah, I don’t know how any of that kind of fleshes out.
Apple’s in this weird kind of, I wouldn’t call it a holding pattern, but we don’t know yet what the cadence is for Apple Silicon. The M2 came out 18 months after the M1, which is okay, that’s good, but then nothing else. The rest of the year, they didn’t do anything with it. So the iMac coming up on two years.
JC: They were supposed to do the pros and max and stuff, and then I think those were intended to be at the end of this year. There was production delays and stuff like that that were out of their hands. It’s all on the side of like TSMC and the others. Flextronics, all the people who actually make these things have had delays and they’re looking at where’s our volume? What do we need to do? What we really need to do is iPhone 14 Pro is where we need to put all our legs in that basket right now.
MS: They had a problem with that too, production delays.
JC: Well, that’s what I mean. That’s why they need to… Yeah. That’s why they’re not going to divide up their limited production capacity to do these other things.
MS: Listen, the M1 Pro, Macs, MacBooks, they’re fantastic laptops and they’re on sale all over the place for like $400 or $500 off, which is just ridiculously good.
JC: Yeah. Honestly, all the stuff that would be cool about an update is the stuff they got this year, like the display and all that other stuff.
MS: Yes. Right. Nothing else is changing. If nothing else is changing, it would just be the chip.
JC: Yeah. Yeah. And going from the M1 to the M2, it’s not a huge…I mean, what we’ve seen in the M1 and M2, it’s not a huge leap. I don’t expect the M1 Pro and Max, the M2 Pro and Max to be like, earth-shaking either.
RL: Moving on to the next major product category, that’s the iPhone.
MS: Look at the iPhone being third in 2023 Do we really expect anything big from the iPhone in 2023?
MS: Well, I mean we say this every year that this is the year but this does look like the year I mean, so, USB-C number one is massive. If Apple actually does dump them. Now they don’t have to do that, so the rule says by late 2024, I think it was November or December 2024, so Apple could technically release the iPhone 15 and 16 with lightning and still comply with the EU law.
But all rumors say that they’re going to get ahead of that ball and the iPhone 15, all models will dump lightning for USBC, which would be if nothing else changes and there are a lot of other changes that are coming. But if nothing else changes, that’s huge. That’s a huge change.
JC: And just ignoring sort of the convenience and possible data rate, it’s possible that they make them faster charging than is possible with Lightning. USB-C can handle that. Whether the phone can or not is another situation, but I think their charge limit is as much about Lightning currently as it is about the phone.
MS: I agree. Yeah, there are Android phones that go up to like 100 watts. You can go, Apple does what? 18, 20, what was it? 18? Yeah, so they can go way, way faster.
RL: And then Apple will promote that as a giant breakthrough.
MS: Yeah. Listen, Apple is not going to do like a 150 or something. It would go to like 25, but that’s still a significant change.
JC: That’s one. The camera is supposed to be a big deal. They are supposedly using new sensors from Sony. They’ve been using kind of old sensors from Sony for the most part in most of these cameras. When you dig into the teardowns and they find the model numbers, there are these four, five-year-old sensors, with the exception of maybe that 48-megapixel sensor in the Pro now. There’s a new sensor coming from Sony next year that’s supposed to be two or three times more sensitive to collecting photons and turning them into bits. They’re supposedly using that. They’re supposedly doing the periscope lens for the telephoto. It could be a big camera upgrade, at least in the Pro model.
MS: That could be the periscope camera. We’ve heard rumors that that might be limited to the iPhone 15 Pro Max, which is going to be renamed the iPhone 15 Ultra. But I don’t know. Yeah, who knows?
Just quick about the cameras. So Tim Cook went to Japan, and sent out a tweet that says, “We’ve been partnering with Sony for over a decade to create the world’s leading camera sensors for iPhone and many thanks to people who work there.”
I don’t know if Apple has ever publicly acknowledged that it works with Sony for the camera sensor. I mean, maybe in like a keynote or something they mentioned it way back when, but it’s not something that they often do. Something like that leads me to believe that, yes, they’re serious about whatever their new thing is.
JC: They’ve acknowledged it to the same capacity as this is. It would be in a tweet or in a side thing. It’s never in their formal public–nothing is. They never say who makes their displays. They never say their displays are made by Samsung or LG or any of those things. Same thing going on here.
MS: Yeah, but it’s interesting that Cook would be there calling it out now.
JC: To pile on that conspiracy in the spirit of looking ahead to next year, there are multiple manufacturers in that same city that… first of all, Sony is supposed to be supplying them with
a display for the AR headset. There’s a Flextronics manufacturing facility there, I believe.
All in the same location is about half the stuff they need for the AR headset. He may be going there not to talk about their camera sensors for the iPhone. He may have tweeted that, but he may be there to have meetings about the AR headset stuff.
MS: This is Kumamoto, Japan. iPhone 15 Ultra is allegedly going to make an appearance, so That’s going to be the rebranding of the iPhone 15 Pro Max, possibly titanium, Thunderbolt,
like the real kind of ultra pro treatment that it hasn’t really gotten. Right now, the Pro Max is just a bigger version of the Pro. So there’s a lot of rumors that say that it’s going to have a bunch of exclusive features for that model.
JC: And I tell you, I hate that so much.
MS: No, I agree. And I say that as someone who buys the largest phone, but you shouldn’t have to buy a 6.7-inch phone just to get the best stuff.
JC: Right. Because there are real usability issues with that size for some people. It doesn’t fit in your pocket. It’s too big for some people’s hands, yada, yada. I totally love that you have two size options for the same phone. When they’re no longer the same phone, I’m going to be like, no, that’s not, I don’t want to get this giant.
MS: Yeah. They did this once before, I want to say with the iPhone 12, where the Pro Max had a slightly better camera but it wasn’t anywhere near as large of a gap as you’re going to get or as rumored to get in September. It’s like the Apple Watch Ultra. So that one is bigger and you get a ton of stuff. However, the people who would buy that are gonna want a watch that size. If you want the dive stuff and the water resistance and the hiking and the ruggedness and all that other stuff that comes with it, you want a 49-millimeter, 50-millimeter watch. So that makes sense to me.
JC: And all the competitors in that space are big honking watches. That’s what ultra-durable watches are like.
MS: With what we’re reading about the iPhone 15 Ultra, iPhone 15 Pro users would want the same features in a 6.1-inch phone. No one’s going to say, well, I don’t need a better camera. I don’t need a faster USB-C port. I don’t need a titanium frame or any of that stuff. Everyone’s going to want that. Apple is making you not only jump to a higher version, but we’re also hearing that it’s going to probably cost a little bit more, which also makes sense.
JC: Oh, yeah.
MS: $100 or $200 more. At some point, it reaches where you’re going to start turning people away or turning people off by doing that. Apple is not the only one. Samsung does it too. They have a Galaxy S22 Ultra that also has exclusive features and it’s a big giant phone and it’s expensive and all that stuff. Apple is far from being the only company who’s doing this.
JC: One has to wonder if they’re going to do both and it’s getting lost in the rumor shuffle, they’re going to have iPhone 15 Pro at 6.1 and 6.7 inches. And then also the Ultra, which is only in 6.7 inches and has all these extra features and costs more.
MS: Sure. So Pro, Pro Max and an Ultra. Yeah, maybe. Sure. I’d be okay with it. Give people the choice to spend the extra 200 bucks on all those features. Sure.
JC: But I’ll tell you, I long for a titanium phone.
MS: Me too. Yeah.
JC: Because it’s so light. And I don’t care what it looks like because I put a case on it. Like, if it has the raw titanium look like the watch, I don’t care in case.
MS: I’m fine with that. I never look at, sometimes I forget what color iPhone I have. I never look at the back of my phone.
RL: So that’s the iPhone. What about the iPad? So we’ve got kind of this confusing lineup now. Does Apple straighten that out next year?
MS: It doesn’t look like it.
JC: The rumors are it gets worse because there are two different rumors of bigger iPads, 14 and a 16 or 17, I think. That’s like 16.9. So, and we don’t know if either of them will come out or just one of them or both, but the ideas that they’ve been exploring, what do we do with a giant iPad? Which I actually think is a cool idea. I think for people who…
MS: I don’t mind that either. Yeah. As like a family device, watching movies, playing games with multiple people. Yeah. It could have its purpose.
JC: I actually think it’d be terrible for that because it’s not going to be priced for that. It’s going to be a professional thing. It’s going to be M2. It’s going to be huge. It’s going to have…they already had HDR and all this stuff, but as a drafting table of sorts, a portable drawing device for the people who do that kind of stuff, interior designers, all that other architects and everybody else who draws on their iPad a lot, they probably love a 16-inch version, you know, and they’d run out there and spend two grand to get it.
RL: The Apple Watch seemed like it got its major changes this year. So maybe incremental updates this year?
MS: We haven’t heard any rumors yet about what that would be. There will be a Series 9. There will probably be an Ultra 2 or whatever they call it. But aside from maybe a new chip, well, we haven’t even gotten the new chip. They just keep renaming the old chip. I don’t even know if there will be a new chip. Maybe a sensor. There have been sensor rumors, but it still seems like they’re a little bit too far out, glucose monitoring things like that. I don’t know if they’re ready yet.
JC: That’s kind of what’s going on with the eight. The eight is very much like the seven, it’s very much like the six. They’ve been on these very mild updates. Rumors aren’t telling us to expect anything different than that this year. It’s going to be like you said, it’s not going to be meaningfully different in terms of battery life, performance, any of these things. It’ll have a new feature or two, like a new sensor or a slightly different new feature. Mostly it’s going to be a new name, maybe some new colors.
MS: There’ll be something to set it apart, but we haven’t heard anything about sizes or redesign. There was that flat redesign, but it seems as though that was the Ultra that got that look and that kind of got lost in translation unless they bring the Ultra look to the Series 9 to kind of match the look, who knows? But I wouldn’t expect anything huge out of the Apple Watch, but it’ll be the same price and it’ll be a little bit better. And if you want one, you know, great.
JC: I feel like Apple Watch should be at a two-year cadence like the iPhone SE.
MS: I agree. Yeah.
RL: Yeah. I wonder if that Ultra is going to be a two-year cadence and we won’t see an update for it.
MS: Yeah, I could see that. The SE on a two-year cadence, as Jason just said–not even. It barely got an update last year or this year. It got a new chip. This past year was a very disappointing year. Crash detection and that was it. Yeah. I mean, it’s a fine watch for $249. There’s nothing wrong with it. But Apple could have given us one of those new sensors. All it has is the heart rate sensor. Anything, like ECG or always on-display or blood oxygen, something that’s on the later models.
RL: What about the HomePod? We haven’t seen anything about the HomePod in a while.
JC: There are a few interesting little rumors that we don’t really know if any of them are going to come together into a product in 2023, but they were supposedly working on something that’s essentially a soundbar with an Apple TV built-in. So it’d be like a HomePod slash Apple TV in a soundbar-like form factor. You hook it up to your TV, but you can also just talk to it and play music. You can use HDMI input and output, yada, yada, and possibly a camera. Then you could FaceTime on your TV from your living room. That would be a slick product. I think they could sell a good number of those. People buy sound bars. It’d be a great way to say, look, upgrade your TV sound, get an Apple TV, do all the HomePod stuff, FaceTime from your living room. That’d be pretty cool.
The other one is a HomePod that either has a display or attaches an iPad as a display, a HomePod with a display to compete with all the…the Google, what are they called? Nest Hub and Echo Shows and stuff like that. Also something they could very well use. The only reason I still have Google Homes in my house is because, I have one in the kitchen and I value the screen. I really want the screen in my kitchen. I use it constantly for the screen. Putting a HomePod there would not cut it. If it could, if I could put a HomePod with a screen there, I’d be all HomePod.
RL: Yeah, I have an Echo Show–well, actually, I have an Echo Spot. It’s that old circular one that I bought many, many years ago in the kitchen as well that I use all the time. I would absolutely get on with the screen or a docking iPad, whatever it is for that spot. It seems to be that Apple is kind of missing the boat. It would be a very popular product if it’s–I’m assuming it’s not like 500 bucks. If it’s like 299 or something.
JC: No, it’d be 500 bucks.
MS: I think they would do it.
JC: I think if it doesn’t have…if you supply your own iPad, it could be like 200 bucks. It could be like 200 bucks and you dock an iPad. If it’s got a built-in display or comes with a special iPad that you can just undock and it’s an iPad but it’s only this thing, anything like that, it’s going to be at least 500 bucks. I don’t put it past Apple to go that route, it would suck but it’s possible.
JC: I mean, they have to consider the competition because the Echo shows, I mean, those things are on sale for like 50, 60 bucks all the time. The Google Nest is like 200. If theirs comes in at like seven or eight, like they’re not going to sell any of them. So they have to like they did with HomePod mini, like they learned their lesson. All right, so people, don’t want a $400 HomePod, they want a $100 HomePod. I don’t know how well it’s selling but it’s got to be selling better than the original HomePod, I would assume. I think if they’re going to come out with such a device, and they should, as Jason said, there’s a million reasons why it would be great–349, I think it has to be in that general region for it, to be successful.
JC: Sort of the third HomePod rumor we heard briefly was that the larger HomePod will make a return but re-architected to be much more affordable to manufacture. But it won’t be the mini. It’ll just be the sound pod like the original HomePod, but not so expensive to make and wouldn’t have to cost as much. And that’s a possibility as well.
I really do think some sort of HomePod thing is going to happen in 2023, other than just like new colors for your HomePod mini. There’s gonna be something. I think OG HomePod is going to get the Apple TV treatment where they just made an Apple TV 4K that is significantly less expensive and kind of better. They just re-engineered it to be more affordable to manufacture for them and it’s better. I think that’s probably what we can expect out of like a HomePod resurgence.
RL: Do we expect anything from the AirPods lineup in 2023 other than updates?
MS: They still use Lightning on their cases. So that’s the thing that could happen with the iPhone where they update just the case.
JC: That’s the most persistent thing is that they’ll update nothing but the case to the USB-C.
MS: And also the Maxs has a couple of years out now.
MS: It’s been two years, just about right now, it’s been two years. So maybe something different with their data don’t have the new adaptive transparency. They could add the better Bluetooth, Bluetooth 5.2, whatever it is that the new AirPods got.
JC: There’s a new chip in the new AirPods Pro. They can put that in there. They could do that. Maybe a couple of new colors.
MS: They could do that.
JC: If they could shave half the weight off, they’d have something. It’s really the key thing.
MS: And a bit of the price.
JC:It is priced too much, but it’s priced too much in that way. Apple stuff is priced too much. If it got all the new AirPods, second-gen AirPods Pro features and technology with improved sound and they got the weight down, they could sell them at that price. There are people out there now who want to buy the Max or want them. You see them in videos online and stuff like that. You see people wearing them.
RL: Any iCloud changes? Is Apple finally going to change the 5 gigabyte?
RL: No. Never. I can’t wait when you could buy a $90,000 Apple car and you still get 5 gigs of iCloud.
JC: Yeah, we’ll be at the point where five gigs is the equivalent of 50 megabytes today. That’ll still be what you get for free.
JC: It’ll be like, five gigs, that’s three photos of my super high gigapixel photos that I have now.
MS: And you know, it’s easy to say, well, it’s only a dollar a month. But I could turn that on Apple and say, it’s only a dollar a month. Just give us the thing. We’re spending $1,000 plus on their phone. And you basically at this point you kind of have to pay for something.
My parents have refused to pay. Now I include them in my family plan so they have all the storage they need. But for years I would tell my dad, like, it’s a dollar a month, just pay. “No, I’m not doing it.” He refused to pay for it. He realized he paid like a hundred times more than that for your phone. About a thousand times more than that for your phone. But he just, you know, some people just principle they won’t do it.
JC: I’m sympathetic to the idea that the argument is the opposite. Well, I just spent a hundred times that for my phone. They should give it to me. Right. Yeah, kind of. It’s a gajillion dollars, it’s a two trillion dollar company sitting on top of like $200 billion in cash. They could just give me 10 gigabytes.
MS: They’re literally giving their money away. They have so much of it. Every quarter, they give away billions of dollars because they don’t know what to do with it. But they can’t give you 15 gigs of iCloud storage.
JC: Right. Yeah. I just…
RL: I saved the most important product that could come out next year for last. And we still don’t know if it’s going to come out. And that’s the third season of Ted Lasso.
JC: It’s going to come.
MS: Yeah. I think so. I think they filmed it last year, I believe, right?
JC: They just finished it. Yeah, they finished shooting it a few weeks ago.
RL: I think back in March. Or yeah, oh, they did principal photography. It was done back in March. So they’re in production with it now. They haven’t announced a release date for Ted Lasso. The rumors are that it’s going to be the last season, but that hasn’t been confirmed.
MS: I think they’re going to tie it in with the MLS, the Major League Soccer launch. They’ll do something with that. You know, there’ll be some buzz about soccer and then they’ll say, Oh, Ted Lasso is either they release it or they announce it or something. Yeah, like that.
MS: They just got a bunch of Golden Globe Awards for Severance, not awards, nominations for Severance. So they’re still chugging along with their Apple TV Plus programs. Bunch of year-end lists had that. I haven’t seen it. I think it’s called Pachinko.
RL: I haven’t seen that either. Yeah.
MS: But it’s supposed to be very good. Final season of, what is that show? I watched it, I can’t remember the name. The M. Night Shyamalan show with the baby.
MS: Servant, yes. That’s finishing up in January. Morning Show will probably come back next year. I mean, there’s some momentum there.
JC: Yeah. And there’s lots of new stuff on the way. I can’t get away from the ads for Spirited. I mean, they’re starting to really market this stuff. And yeah, they’ve got some good stuff on the way.
MS: Spirited was pretty good. It could have been better. than better. But it was good. I liked it. I watched it with my son. We all liked it. I’m not going to run back to watch it again. It’s not like Christmas Story where you got to watch it every year. But it was okay.
RL: It’s not a holiday tradition?
JC: Yeah. They’re never going to beat Muppet Christmas Carol. I’m sorry. The best version, that’s not just me liking the Muppets. Just ask me, the best version of Christmas Carol is the Muppet one, I will fight you. And then —
MS: It’s also the best Christmas record is also the Muppets.
JC: It’s true. And then the–what’s its name? If you want a modern interpretation, it’s hard to beat the Bill Murray Scrooge, right?
RL: Yeah, that’s good. That’s true.
MC: Every Christmas Eve, I watch Die Hard every year. I wouldn’t die on that hill that that’s a Christmas movie. There are plenty of good Christmas movies.
JC: Lethal Weapon is a Christmas movie. The first one. All right. If you just want an excuse to watch action movies.
RL: To wrap this up, do you guys have any Apple predictions that we didn’t talk about, about the company, about…
JC: Wacky predictions out that way out there stuff. I actually think that the mixed reality headset thing, I don’t even give it a 50-50 chance of actually shipping to customers next year. At best, a dev kit. I think there’s like a 20 percent chance that regular customers will be able to buy one and get it next year.
Has anybody stepped down? There are some really senior-level execs who’ve been there forever.
RL: There have been a few.
JC: And it’s like, is it time for anybody to step down or move on?
I was going to make my off-the-wall prediction that Tim Cook will announce that he will retire in five years. He kind of said it in an interview.
MS: Here’s the quote. It was with Kara Swisher at the time with the New York Times. This was from 2021. Not that long ago. I don’t know what the question was, but the answer was, “Ten more years? Probably not. But I can tell you that I feel great right now and the day is not in sight. But ten more years is a long time and probably not ten more years” is what he said. That’s the exact quote, but that brings us to 2030, which is plenty of time. And I wouldn’t blame them to be honest, you know, another bunch of years of this stuff, I mean, it’s a pretty stressful gig. Like I’m sure it’s not as fun as it looks from where we’re sitting.
JC: Yeah. We just see the good part.
RL: There were reports that he wanted to do one last major product introduction. And the headset seems like that’s it.
MS: He’s been talking about AR for a long time, not in any real product way, but in the excitement around it and the potential for a real breakthrough platform. He champions AR a lot. So yes, I do think that this is his iPhone. But he did AirPods, he did Apple Watch. He’s done a bunch of great iPhones, the iPad Pro, he’s done.
JC: He’s been trying to make a car for 10 years. Not really an exaggeration.
MS: The question is what comes after Tim Cook? Who’s next? I mean, as Jason said, a bunch are old. A few have left. Johnny Ive left, Phil Schiller left. So I don’t know who replaces. Maybe Elon Musk.
RL: We went almost an hour without mentioning Elon Musk. Well, if my prediction holds true, we’ll have five years to figure that out.
MS: Yeah, I think we got a bunch of time. Tim Cook seems like a very practical person, so I wouldn’t be surprised if he has a lot planned out. But I don’t think he’s just going to up and say, you know what, I’m done. Here’s a press release. See you. I don’t think it’s going to, you know, barring any tragedy.
JC: Here’s the thing, not necessarily product related, but something we can, we’ll see throughout 2023 is we will continue to see Apple diversifying where it manufactures product.
JC: It’s being written about as they’re looking to get out of China. I don’t believe that’s true. I think they will make as many products in China as they do now. I think they will also make more products elsewhere. India is a big one, likely some in Mexico or South America, some in the U.S. like Arizona and stuff like that. Not just chips being, manufactured but like full product assembly and everything. I think they’ve just kind of realized there was a lot of efficiency to being kind of central But it’s not very durable. When something happens, you’re kind of hosed. There are a lot of companies with big import excise taxes and stuff like India that they need to bolster manufacturing worldwide and spread it out. So we’re going to see that. We’re going to see a lot of that throughout the year.
MS: Yeah, I think so too. And China, it’s almost impossible for Apple to just stop manufacturing things in China for not just next year, for like a decade from now. I mean, there’s so much of their manufacturing and their entire supply chain is hooked up with China. But I do think that they are making a conscious effort to diversify as much as they can.
JC: Yeah. It’s like, will they ever make the iPhone in the U.S.? Maybe if they make a model, right? Maybe the SE is made in like…
MS: They make the Mac Pro.
RL: Right. Kind of like what they did with the Mac Pro. Yeah.
MS: Yeah. I’m sure they sell more SEs than Mac Pros, but yeah. I mean, obviously, it’s all about the bottom line. They don’t work with China because they love it there. They work in China because it’s the most cost-effective way to make stuff. So it’s not just them, it’s everybody. So this is something that they’re going to have to sit down and figure out. And Tim Cook is that guy like he’s an operations guy. He knows what he’s doing when it comes to all of that stuff.
JC: Oh man, he’s scaled up manufacturing to such a ridiculous level compared to where it was before him. They’re already talking about how many they’re going to triple production in India and all these other things. Some of this stuff you’ll see starting next year, some of this stuff you’ll see the plans and it’ll start in 2024 or whatever, but I think those will happen.
Another prediction just popped in my head. We will not get Apple’s cellular modem next year. It is not going to happen.
MS: Ever? Wait, you mean ever or next year?
JC: No, not next year. Will it ever happen? I think they’re going to try their best, but it’s not going to happen next year. I think Qualcomm again next year.
MS: Yeah, I think so too. There’s a reason why no other major chip maker makes a viable 5G modem because they’re not easy and Qualcomm does it really well.
JC: I mean, Intel couldn’t hack it. They tried. They made a second-best 4G modem that was not even second-best. It was a significant gap for a while.
MS: But Samsung, none of the major companies that make chips, good chips, they haven’t been able to crack it. Apple’s trying. They have Intel’s team. They have their own team. They’ve been working on it for many years. But I agree with Jason. I don’t think it’s going to happen this year. I wouldn’t be surprised if it doesn’t happen next year either.
JC: I would not be surprised by that either.
RL: That does it for this episode of the Macworld Podcast, episode 820. Thanks to Jason Cross.
JC: Thank you.
RL: Thanks to Michael Simon.
MS: Thank you, sir.
RL: Thanks to the audience. Thank you for tuning in. You can subscribe to the Macworld Podcast in the podcast app on Spotify or through any other podcast app. If you have any comments or questions, send us an email at podcast at macworld.com or contact us through Twitter, that’s at Macworld, or on the Macworld Facebook page. Join us in the next episode of the Macworld podcast as we talk about the latest in the world of Apple. See you next time.