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6 announcements missing from Apple's iPhone 13 event
The run-up to any Apple media event is saturated with rumors and predictions, especially when the company’s big iPhone showcase rolls around in the Fall. Many of these turn out to be true, but some turn out to be false — for September 14’s iPhone 13 event there were a variety of possible announcement predictions, some of which were conspicuous in their absence. Let’s look at some of the notable things we didn’t see at Apple’s iPhone 13 event.
Apple’s default wireless earbuds are beginning to show their age, mostly because of competitors like Samsung’s Galaxy Buds 2. There were rumors that they would at least evolve to mimic the look of the AirPods Pro, if not their active noise cancellation. The cosmetic changes would’ve translated into rounder buds and shorter stems.
Related: Apple AirPods Pro vs Apple AirPods
There was also talk about better bass, air channels to relieve ear pressure, and/or a standard wireless charging case with extended battery life. New internal chip design might have enabled a more compact form factor, and possibly improved connectivity.
Here’s hoping we see new buds from the Cupertino brand soon.
Did you watch Apple's iPhone 13 event? Why?
A rugged Apple Watch
As tough as it is, the Apple Watch is not the smartwatch to choose for maximum durability. Its glass intentionally protrudes, and even its metal shell is vulnerable to scratches during activities like weightlifting. While you can surf and shower with it, if you’re thinking about diving or extended swims, you’ll want a waterproof case.
As tough as it is, the Apple Watch is not the smartwatch to choose for maximum durability.
In March, Bloomberg reported that Apple was working on a rugged Watch model that might have better impact protection and/or water resistance, one floated name being the Explorer Edition. Indeed, that could still be in the cards, and would be a logical progression in the Watch’s development. While Apple initially tried to push the Watch as a fashion item — even selling gold models priced over $10,000 — it quickly realized that the health and fitness market was a better target, hence the Nike spinoffs and a growing list of sensors. Some people are no doubt willing to go a step further and sacrifice style for function.
Apple is bound to ship updated Macs by the end of 2021. It regularly updates Macs in the fall, and there are believed to be multiple models in the pipeline, such as redesigned MacBook Pros and a faster Mac mini with additional ports. The 24-inch iMac switched over to Apple Silicon earlier this year, which means the 27-inch model is due to follow suit. However, rumors have pegged that computer for a 2022 release date, if at all.
Most likely is that Apple will launch a few new Macs in October, whether via a press release or a separate event. This is supported not just by past releases but by the fact that September 14 didn’t see a date for macOS Monterey — Apple will need to reveal that information sometime, and it tends to launch fall Macs paired with a fresh OS.
A redesigned flagship Apple Watch
The Apple Watch Series 7 does have some notable design changes, like a bigger screen, thinner bezels, and softer, more rounded corners, but it’s not the visual overhaul people were expecting. Leaks suggested the Series 7 would switch to flattened sides, putting it more in line with recent iPhones and iPads. Perhaps production issues interfered — the Series 7 doesn’t even have a release date yet, after all.
More remotely there’s the possibility that Apple will one day release a rounded Watch, similar to wearables by Samsung and Garmin. The company has submitted several related patent applications, and many people find rounded watch faces more inviting. That would require reformatting watchOS however, and there are other areas Apple would probably rather invest in.
The biggest long shot for the iPhone 13 event was the company’s long-awaited augmented reality glasses. The company is known to be working in that direction, having made many related hires and acquisitions. It even used an AR invitation to tease Tuesday’s event.
Reports have pointed to any dedicated AR product waiting until at least 2022, though, so at best Apple would have been able to offer an early glimpse, as much to get developers on board as the public. That would’ve risked a flood of copycats, which is probably why Apple will keep the project black as long as it can.
A satellite-capable iPhone
One late rumor, finally, was that the iPhone 13 would get support for satellite calls, albeit only in select markets and only as an emergency backup. The advantage of satellite tech is that it can work anywhere on Earth — this would’ve required a custom baseband chip, but with billions of dollars to throw around, it might’ve been worth it to make the iPhone more reliable.
The emergency limitation was potentially related to Apple’s terrestrial partners. Carriers would likely have retaliated against competing with satellite providers, perhaps by deemphasizing the iPhone in marketing. For all of Apple’s clout, it’s not about to risk giving Samsung or others more marketshare.