There are always rumors floating around about Apple’s next move, especially when it involves the iPhone and, more recently, the iPad. But what if we could see Apple’s calendar of what they intend to announce and release? Here’s an overview of what I imagine that calendar looks like for the next six months.
Public release of iOS 4.3. The latest beta of iOS 4.3 is beta 3, which has been available for around two weeks now. In the past, incremental upgrades to iOS have only had 3 betas before going to Gold Master (GM) and then on to the public release. I give it less than a week before we see the GM, and a couple of weeks after that, we’ll see the public release of 4.3. That puts the date around Feb. 28. Given there’s a press event rumored for this week, I’d say there’s a good chance the GM will be released then, with the public release date announced during the event.
MacBook Pro refresh. The MacBook Pro product cycle isn’t regular by any means, but the last major refresh was in April 2010. The average release rate for Apple’s portable Macs is between six months and a year, so March is a reasonable estimate. Plus, reports say supplies of the current MacBook Pros are dwindling, suggesting no more are currently being manufactured. There was a rumor that the recall of Intel’s new Sandy Bridge processors may affect new Macs, but Apple may have worked something out or held off on introducing the new chip architecture.
New iPad model. The current iPad was released in April 2010 after a January announcement, but this time, Apple won’t want to wait around. The new version may not be called the “iPad 2,” but an announcement in April followed by a release a couple of weeks or so later is in the cards. Of course, there’s no hard evidence of the iPad receiving yearly updates like its iPhone cousin, but it’s reasonable to expect that it will given Apple’s practice with its other hardware. We’ve also seen a lot of rumors suggesting a new iPad is being manufactured at the moment. Feature-wise, the new iPad will likely contain at least one camera, for FaceTime. There are as many rumors saying it will have a Retina Display as there are ones saying it won’t, but I don’t think it will. The iPad’s current display already looks better than those of its competitors, so Apple likely won’t bother boosting its resolution this time around.
Developer beta of Mac OS X 10.7 (Lion). When the latest iteration of OS X was announced, a vague “Summer 2011″ was mentioned as the expected release date. But with any new operating system update, Apple always releases beta versions to developers. With an upgrade as major as 10.7, Apple will want as long a testing period as possible in order to iron out as many bugs as they can. The original 10.6 beta was released around May 2009, so this backs up a May release of the 10.7 beta. In addition to the features we’ve already seen — Launchpad and Mission Control — we’ll also see some other new things not yet announced. Perhaps Lion will also include Game Center, so Mac App Store apps can take advantage of Apple’s social gaming features.
New iPhone model. We’ve seen a new iPhone released every year since its debut in 2007, and there’s no reason to believe this year will be any different. In terms of features, the new iPhone may contain an Apple A5 processor, the successor to the A4 found in the current iPhone and iPad. The camera may also be improved to 8 megapixels, and the new model could support both GSM and CDMA in order to cater for both AT&T and Verizon on one device. The phone may also support up-and-coming 4G networks. The new iPhone will also likely ship with iOS 5, but what iOS 5 will bring to the game is anyone’s guess.
iMac and Mac mini refreshes. The latest generation of Apple’s all-in-one was released in July 2010, but the iMac product cycle varies, as with the MacBook Pros, so the date isn’t set in stone. A new line of iMacs will likely include the Intel Sandy Bridge processor, and should also include improved graphics processors. Perhaps new models may even be quad-core, like the current high-end model, as standard. Mac minis may also see a refresh, since they’re usually updated around the same time as the iMacs. Expect the public release of OS X Lion to coincide with new Mac hardware, and for both to occur shortly following this year’s Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC).
Am I missing anything? Go ahead and suggest your own additions or alternate timelines in the comments.
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