Pie-in-the-sky wish: Apple will allow modified iOS apps to be installed on newer Apple TVs. (Modified for the TV, that is.) The company opened the door to the concept in 2011 in the form of the MLB, NBA, Vimeo, and Wall Street Journal “channels” (found under the Internet tab), so it’s about time we started seeing other things on the big screen—Cut the Rope, hipster-styled photos on Instagram, or inappropriate Facebook messages from your high school friends. Content producers might even feel more comfortable putting their TV shows, movies, and clips on the Apple TV if they can do it using their own apps. If this happens, the Apple TV will eventually blossom to become the cord-cutting haven that the cable companies have been fearing for years.
Adam Engst, publisher, TidBITS
Last year’s score: Mac OS X, 0; iOS, 0.25; hardware, 0; pie, NA. Total = 0.25/4.0
Mac OS X: After releasing the iOS-inspired Lion (Mac OS X 10.7) in 2011, I don’t see Apple changing much with Mac OS X—most of Lion’s changes were either low-level technologies for developers or interface changes aimed at making Mac OS X seem more like iOS for new users. That said, one area in which we could see notable movement would be an option to prevent users from installing software from any source other than the Mac App Store. That would create a platform that would be both more coherent and more secure than Mac OS X is now. And just think of the online controversy it would cause!
iOS: Time to go out on a limb right from the start: 2012 will bring the fourth major iOS device, the third-generation Apple TV. Running iOS 6, it will finally go beyond being just “iOS-based” by actually allowing you to install and run iOS apps. (I’m not committing to whether this new Apple TV will be a standalone box or something built into a TV or screen, but the former seems more likely to me.) As with the original iPad, this new Apple TV will be compatible with older (non-TV-optimized) apps, but more interesting will be new Apple TV-native apps, which will use Siri-based voice control and other new methods of interacting—think of an iPod touch as a game controller, or even something like the Xbox’s Kinect. In fact, you’ll need another iOS device to control the Apple TV 3.
Hardware: Let’s see. iPad 3 with Siri, a higher-resolution display, better cameras, a faster CPU, and more RAM? Check. iPhone 5 with a new industrial design, 4G LTE connectivity, better cameras, a faster CPU, and more RAM? Check. Apple has maintained its lead in the tablet and smartphone markets by continually pushing the envelope, and the company can’t afford to rest on its laurels. On the Mac hardware side, it’s hard to see significant changes, though I wouldn’t be surprised to see the MacBook Air and MacBook Pro gain an option for a built-in cellular-data modem. For the iMac, Mac mini, and Mac Pro, Apple will stick with processor speed bumps, larger hard disks and/or SSDs, and more RAM.
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