2012 Predictions

After a conversation with my coworkers about the future of the Mac Pro and after reading Macworld’s predictions for the coming year, I’m going to throw my own hat into the ring.

I don’t have any sources at Apple, I haven’t done any research, and I’m not terribly good at predicting the future, but let’s see how this goes:

Mac OS X : Lion was just released in July so I don’t think we’ll see a major point release this year, but iCloud is a new and evolving product and iWork is past due for an update. I think we’ll see iWork for the Mac gain better iCloud document organization like it’s iOS companion. No more signing into the website to download your documents. Perhaps iWork.com will also reappear and allow easier collaboration. We’ll also see some smaller enhancements to iCloud in general making it easier for you to manage and delete your data (specifically in Photo Stream and Address Book). I think we’ll also see iMessage integrated with iChat and iBooks for the Mac.

iOS : We’ll see iOS 6 this year with an enhanced notification center including third-party widget support and easier-to-hit clear buttons. Siri will start to open up to more services and apps and we’ll see Apple introduce its own navigation app that doesn’t depend on Google. iTunes Match will be updated to allow you to sync music to your devices through iTunes in addition to downloading it so you can save time and bandwidth. iBooks will get a performance boost and new textbook features which will allow communication between students and teachers via iCloud. There will also be a notation feature which will sync nicely with iBooks for Mac. You’ll also be able to restore backed-up iCloud data for specific apps rather than an all-or-nothing deal. Oh, and AppleTV will get Hulu Plus.

Hardware : I think we’ll see a new Mac Pro with two or three Thunderbolt ports and fast, new processors. I’m not sure if the design will change and I wouldn’t be surprised either way, but they might have to do something funky with the Thunderbolt ports and the video card here. I think the MacBook Pro line will drop the optical drive this year and slim down a bit. What will they do with that extra space? Optional SSD blade in addition to the tradition 2.5″ drive. Spec bumps all around and the MacBook Air will get a new look to bring it closer to the new MacBook Pro. The iPhone 6 gets a rounded back, a better camera, faster processor, and LTE. NFC? Yeah, maybe. The iPad 3 gets that 2x res retina display that everyone has been talking about in addition to the iPhone’s improvements.

Pie-in-the-sky wish : Lose the skeuomorphic design. Ditch the leather and wood. iCal and Address Book feel like children’s toys, the iBooks bookshelf has lost its novelty and Find My Friends is… well I don’t even know what that is yet. I’d also like a cheap Mac with the expandability of the Mac Pro (I know, Thunderbolt, etc, etc). More than anything, I think it would be cool to use an AppleID to log-in to any Mac that allows it. It would have to be a limited-access guest account, but imagine how nice it would be to sit down at a friend’s house, log in, and have your bookmarks, contacts, settings, and music (if you’re an iTunes Match subscriber) all right there for you.

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The Verge – "You know, honestly, just buy an iPhone."

Chris Ziegler writes for The Verge –

it’s a very selfish piece of advice: you see . . . it’s simply my path of least resistance to ensuring my advice seeker an acceptable smartphone experience with minimal ongoing technical support from me.

He says that the Galaxy Nexus is the best smart phone he’s ever used, but with all the possible variables and technical problems and personal tastes that could cause problems in recommending a phone, the iPhone is a good default bet.

And I would agree. Everything you need is in a nice package. You need Windows or a Mac and you need iTunes. That’s it. The interface is intuitive, most social networks have a native iPhone app (available in an easy-to-access App Store), most websites work great in Mobile Safari, the most popular games and apps are available for iPhone, and you get Apple’s tech support and sometimes-lenient replacement policy.

Now I think that the iPhone has a lot more to recommend it than just being the lowest common denominator in terms of ease-of-use, but it definitely does have that going for it. Sure, Android might be better for you if you have specific needs or if your tastes push you that way, but if you don’t know what the command line is and you have to ask your tech-savvy nephew to set up your email client for you, then maybe you should go with the iPhone.