Wow. What a year 2015 was for Apple. The 12in MacBook, the 12.9-inch iPad Pro, Apple Pay, Apple Music, Beats 1 and, of course, the Apple Watch, gave us plenty to talk about - and these releases give us plenty of hints about what might be coming up in 2016 and 2017.
In this article we look in our crystal ball and predict the products and services Apple will launch in the second half of 2016 and 2017.
Apple predictions for 2016 & 2017: Apple Watch 2
Apple hasn't exactly bet the farm on its Watch. It was launched with appropriate fanfare, but the company has played it slow and sure since then. In-store display areas are discreet, and overshadowed by its longer-established lines. Perhaps the company realises that a fair few of us are waiting for the first revision.
Expect that to come later in 2016. In April, the original model turned 12 months old, and although two major operating system updates have added a range of new features - watchOS 3 was unveiled at WWDC in June 2016 - it would be risky for Apple to wait more than 18 months between hardware updates to a product line as high-profile as its smartwatch. (Granted, Tim Cook may also have been wary about straying too far in the other direction. It would be galling in the extreme to spend £13,500 on a smartwatch, as some deep-pocketed Apple Watch Edition buyers did last year, and then see it rendered obsolete a few months later.)
The first revision will almost certainly be an extensive upgrade to bring it in line with its most ambitious competitors, so we're expecting an Apple Watch 2, rather than an iPhone-style 'S' variant. We're also expecting it to be an entirely stand-alone device, along the lines of Samsung's Gear S2, which connects directly to the cellular network, bypassing the Galaxy Phone entirely.
This might seem illogical if you considered the Apple Watch to be a stealth marketing tool for increased iPhone sales, but it wouldn't be the first time Apple has broken an explicit link between two core products to boost the sales of the newcomer. Think back to its original strategy with the iPod, which was to use it as a Trojan Horse for the Mac (it required a FireWire-enabled computer running iTunes which, at that time, wasn't available on Windows). Only when it produced a PC version did the iPod really fly, and change the company's fortunes forever.
Why do we believe it's going to do that here? Aside from the need to compete with Samsung, it's because watchOS 2, which rolled out on 21 September 2015, made it possible for the first time to run third-party applications directly, without using the phone as a data conduit. Building in full-blown phone-free comms is the next logical step.
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