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Low Hanging Fruits: Apple in 2016 and Beyond

Between the Apple Watch, the iPhone 6S, the new Apple TV, and Apple Music, by all accounts 2015 was a banner year for Apple Inc.

Apple is a company of patterns and progression. As a former retail employee we often knew what was coming next, not due to any insider knowledge, but just due to patterns and understanding how Apple works.

Of course we’ll also get new iPads (spring), iPhones (fall), and Macs (throughout) at some point but I figured those are foregone conclusions.  Sometimes the company will throw a throw a curveball, but based on the way things are going currently here are some things I expect to see from Apple in 2016 and beyond.

Beats by Apple

The first product Beats launched after the Apple purchase was the Beats Solo 2 Wireless, but they were clearly well into development before the purchase took place. Shortly after that Apple began launching new colors of everything to match their iOS devices.

The Beats Pill+ however is different, it seems it’s the first true hardware child of this merger. It still has the look of the Beats brand, but taken to another level of polish that looks to be quite Apple-like. This should be unsurprising since Apple ended the company’s relationship with Ammunition, the design agency responsible for their headphones and the original Beats Pill. There should be little doubt that this product was industrially designed in house by Apple’s teams. Right down to the Lighting port. Little surprise that it’s only available in black and white (for now.)

Expect this trend to continue with new headphone designs in 2016.

Lightning Everywhere

Lighting ports are not just for iOS devices anymore. Almost as an afterthought Apple launched new peripherals before the end of the year. The Magic Mouse 2, Magic Trackpad 2 and Magic Keyboard. Each of these devices is equipped with an internal rechargeable battery and charges via USB via Lightning cables.  However these were not the first new devices to pull this trick. The new Beats Pill+ speaker launched quietly a few weeks earlier with this feature already in place.

Expect this to continue throughout Apple’s product lines and pop up in some surprising places we haven’t though of yet, like new Beats headphones.  Most of their products today include Micro-USB charging, no doubt Apple will do everything it can to phase that out over the next year.

Refined Apple Watch

To some this may be a foregone conclusion, but there are those who have their doubts. While how much of a success the Apple Watch has been is up for debate, make no mistake, this is no iPod Hi-Fi.  Apple is committed to the Apple Watch and by association the fashion world.

Apple Watch users tend to tell people how much they love theirs (myself included) however many of us like it for different reasons. When people ask about why we love the Watch it’s hard to point to one thing. It’s a platform without a killer app, which makes it hard to sell. Expect Apple work on to changing that both through marketing and through iteration.

I anticipate that by the roll out spring fashion lines Apple will announce a revised Apple Watch. It won’t be radically different, but it will be noticeably more responsive for third party apps and will likely contain new sensors to track health and fitness.

Smarter Maps

Apple took a beating when it launched new Maps in iOS 6 without transit directions. Now Apple has a lot of trust to regain in this field. If the company wishes to succeed in this area it needs to iterate rapidly. The company’s health and fitness focus will likely help it here as well as its ‘proactive’ initiatives. Something we could see is more accurate time estimations on walks from place to place based on our own pacing.

Another area of focus could include bike directions in Apple Maps, which will be especially handy for Apple Watch users who will be able to accurately navigate to their destination via haptics alone without looking at their screen.

New Transit Innovations

Apple wants to be much more involved in how you get from place to place. Sure we’ve all heard rumors about a car, but if that is coming, it’s not going to be in the short term.

The expansion of ApplePay, and with it NFC chips, raises some interesting possibilities about how you get around town. Chicago, Tokyo, London and other cities already use some form of radio frequencies for mass transit payment systems and the movement is towards NFC. New York City is planning to switch to a similar system as well. This is good news for all involved.

Expect Apple to start making deals, especially if it designs its own radio chips, that allows the company to make future iPhones and Apple Watches that work as your monthly transit pass. Coming that much closer to fulfilling the digital wallet ideal.

I can’t say I expect all of these things to happen in 2016 but I do believe they’re all inevitable. I look forward to what the future has in store.