Apple in 2013: what to expect

Apple in 2013
Maps will improve in 2013. It has to.

Because TechRadar's powers-that-be inexplicably rejected a perfectly sensible expenses request for a fully working TARDIS, we're stuck merely putting on our 'informed guessing hat' again, to figure out what's coming from Apple over the next 12 months.

This year, such predictions are perhaps tougher than usual: Apple's meticulous regularity regarding release schedules was thrown to the wind during 2012, most notably with the iPad 4 following the iPad 3 after only six months. Also, we were a year ago totally wrong about the iPod Classic finally bowing out - it's still on sale.

Still, we are heroically soldiering on regardless, with a list of 'Apple in 2013' predictions. They perhaps aren't as bonkers as some of those you'll find elsewhere on the web, but they are therefore probably more likely to come to pass!

1. An early iPhone 5S

You'd be crazy to think Apple wouldn't update the iPhone in 2013, given that it's responsible for much of the company's revenue. Judging by iPhone release patterns to date, it's likely to be a smaller bump this time round: an iPhone 5S, perhaps, with incremental improvements to speed, battery life and the camera. What's less certain is when it'll appear. With the recent autumn event suggesting a new iPad next October or perhaps every six months, the next iPhone might well arrive in the spring.

2. Apple TV or Apple iTV

Tim Cook recently referred to TV as "an area of intense interest" for Apple, adding: "When I go into my living room and turn on the TV, I feel like I have gone backwards in time by 20 to 30 years." So obviously this means a literal Apple iTV, right? Not necessarily. TVs aren't updated regularly, yet Apple likes to refresh hardware often. Smart money is instead on the existing Apple TV box in 2013 becoming more than a mere hobby, and disruption coming from further integration with iOS devices, bespoke Apple TV apps, and an iTunes Match-style service for video, along with other deals with broadcasters and TV companies.

Apple iTV

2013's Apple TV will be this same Apple TV, but with apps and more services

3. Something for the pros

We last year predicted the last ever Mac Pro would arrive in 2012. Instead, we got a half-hearted update and a promise from Tim Cook that the company was "working on something really great for later next year". Macs remain the minority of Apple's revenue, desktops are the minority of Mac sales, and Mac Pros sell in lower quantities than the iMac and Mac mini. Still, if Cook's true to his word, we will see a new Mac Pro next year - and we reckon that will be the last one Apple releases before it concentrates entirely on appliance computing.

4. iOS and OS X interface changes

In October, Apple fired Scott Forstall, and Sir Jony Ive, senior vice president of industrial design, was given the role of leading and directing all Apple's 'human interface', including software. We doubt we'll see a wholesale shift from overblown textures to sleek minimalism, but by the end of 2013, Ive will make his presence felt on OS X and iOS. We hope whatever the result it will at the least mean more usable Apple operating systems, and potentially more beautiful ones as well.

5. Innovation question marks

Apple's expected to revolutionise an industry about every eight seconds or tech pundits get all huffy. In reality, though, Apple has always been a company of iteration, only occasionally making breakthroughs: the Apple II (1977), the Mac (1984), the original iMac (1998), the iPod (2001), the iPhone (2007), and the iPad (2010).

Nonetheless, expect question marks to be raised during 2013 if Apple doesn't disrupt another market, regardless of how well its other devices are selling. Also expect people to remark a lot how the company's not the same now Steve Jobs isn't around, despite the company being a corporate-sized embodiment of the man.

6. Map attack

Having ditched Google Maps data, Apple rolled its own mapping solution for iOS 6. The results were problematic and error-strewn. Tim Cook apologised, Scott Forstall in part got the boot for the mess, and Apple doubled down, yet still didn't fix things fast enough for the Australian state of Victoria's police force, reportedly concerned about people becoming stranded. (That last story was a tad overblown, as it turns out, with only one person actually stranded. Still, it showcased the system's inability to make sensible assumptions when two places have similar names.)