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Having just listened to the TNT prediction show for 2014, I thought I would go ahead and write down a few of my own predictions for the coming year. If my predictions prove to be true, you can bet there will be a follow-up. If not, well… 

iPad Pro

This is the prediction I most believe will, and most want to come true. Emotionally, I am already in line for this product. This is the iPad for which I have been waiting. It will have a screen as large as a small, mainstream notebook. It will be the first iPad that Apple internally considers a notebook alternative. Whether or not they will market it that way is still up in the air. 

The Retina display will be something on the order of 13”. It will run some variant of the A7 processor, and come with Touch ID on all models. It will have a front and rear FaceTime camera, probably the same that is in the iPad Air. The best camera for taking pictures will remain in the iPhone. 

The big news is that Apple will finally get back into the keyboard game. Many forget that Apple initially introduced the iPad with an optional keyboard. They got almost everything about that keyboard completely wrong. Since then, there have been a number of third-party accessory makers who have nailed it. Still, there are some things that only Apple can do when it comes to iPad compatibility, and the time has come for them to do it. 

There will be a top-tier bluetooth keyboard offered by Apple alongside the iPad Pro. It will retail for $130. iOS 7 will receive a major update to accommodate new keyboard shortcuts that bring it in line with how keyboards work on the Mac. I am specifically referring to Alt/Tab app switching, and auto-correct. Alone, these two things will bring the iPad in keyboard parity with the Mac. 

The iPad Pro will be priced according to its name. A base-model iPad starts at $499. To pro it up will add $200, maybe $300. That would put the starting price at a minimum of $699. Considering that this will displace many MacBook Air sales, there will be at least one configuration for over $1,000. I can see Apple pushing the higher-margin items by restricting wifi only to the base model. Everything else would be a cellular version. The base model will start with 32 GB of storage. The high-end will include 128. 

I believe that some version of this prediction will be announced at a surprise, Spring event. The iPad Pro cometh…

iTrack

You heard it here firs. The item everyone is referring to as the iWatch will actually be called the iTrack. Yes, I just made this up. But Apple will want to explore names outside of the box. This product will be a tracking device. It will have every kind of sensor under the sun, especially sensors for tracking body metrics. It will track your steps, heart rate, speed, and everything else that can currently be tracked. I also predict that Apple will find a way to track something we have not yet figured out how to easily and accurately track with such a device, such as blood pressure, blood sugar, or temperature.

Naturally, it will also track your communications status. Such tracking would include notifications, email, texts, and voicemail. Expect your local weather to be tracked, and by local, I mean wherever you happen to be at the time. I expect there might even be some kind of integration with Find My iPhone that enables you to keep track of all your devices. 

The iTrack will come in one model for $299, and work with all iDevices that have bluetooth LE. I expect to see it in the Fall at a special event, though it may be announced at WWDC to prepare developers for the new device. 

iPhone 6 nears 5”

Whatever you think about big phones, you can expect to see one from Apple in the Fall. It will still be small by phablet standards. But I suspect it will still come close to 5”. From an engineering perspective, Apple has to be nearing the end of how small they can make a phone while increasing performance and the number of sensors. To give themselves headroom for the next several years, they are going to have to go big. 

Touch ID

Touch ID will gain more features, and become more useful. This seems like a no-brainer, but it is a riskier prediction than it may seem. First, Touch ID, though initially well-received, has fallen out of favor with some of its early supporters. The technology is still great, but Apple seems to have neglected its development. One might have expected regular updates to improve and enhance the technology. So far, that has not happened. We also saw the introduction of a new generation of iPads, none of which sport Touch ID. These are concerning developments.

However, I believe that Apple is going to double-down on Touch ID. I predict that one of the notebook lines will get the feature in some form. Beyond the products, Apple will expand the use of Touch ID to include making purchases at the Apple Store in conjunction with Easy Pay through the Apple Store app. 

Siri

Siri is an iOS technology that has been even more neglected than Touch ID. It does more of what it did when first introduced, but not a whole lot more types of things. People can forgive a buggy product if they perceive that the company is working on it, and doing something bold with it. When Siri was first introduced, it was big and bold, and everybody wanted to use it. Now, it isn’t feeling like an area of boldness at Apple. It feels like something in maintenance mode. That simply has to come to an end.

I predict that 2014 will be the year when Siri starts to feel like a bold move again. It won’t happen until iOS 8. But the move will be unmistakable. Apple will not only put Siri on new devices, but give her new jobs to do. It could be that Apple enters a partnership with the airlines for up to the minute, travel data. That would be huge. Siri could become a sort of shopping assistant, plugged into certain retail chains. It is not enough for Apple to improve Siri’s current functionality. Apple will add something to Siri that makes it fresh and bold all over again.

TV ups its game

My last prediction involves the Apple TV. For the record, I do not expect Apple to start selling actual televisions. Nor do I expect them to close the illusive deals with the contentment holders that would make the Apple TV truly interesting as a content play. Instead, I believe that the Apple TV will become a gaming console for the living room.

We already know that the Apple TV is an iOS device. The next one will sport the A7 SoC, and be capable of playing all iOS games. The key to making it all work are the game controllers being made for the iPhone. Apple will expand that program to include stand-alone controllers for the Apple TV. It requires no advances in technology. All of the pieces are already in place. The Apple TV game console will be the breakout hit of 2014 and 2015. 

We will soon find out just how good of an industry analyst I really am.

David Johnson

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