2021 iOS predictions: new iPad benefits, less drama

It was the best time, it was the worst time. Okay, for most of us, 2020 was not the best time. But at the forefront of iOS, Apple certainly looked in a feast-or-starvation mode.

The company has been released five new iPhone models (did you forget the second generation iPhone SE?), and there was a major iPad Air review that basically turned it into a cheap iPad Pro. The iPad Pro has received an overwhelming update – but an incredible new accessory in the Magic Keyboard for iPad!

In the iPhone and iPad world, there was more to rejoice than to rejoice in 2020, and that represents it most of the world. But can 2021 deliver anything better? It’s time for predictions.

Lucky number 13

Over the past two years, Apple has increased the name of the iPhone by a single number, to iPhone 11 and then iPhone 12. This would usually make me sure that an iPhone 13 was on the horizon, rather than an iPhone 12S. But we live in a world where some buildings do not label their thirteenth floor as the thirteenth floor because of … boogins? Bad mojo? Superstition, this is the world.

Does an iPhone 13 ever exist? I can not see Apple jumping over it and going straight to 14, and Apple can not tread water by adding letters forever to the end of the iPhone 12. My money is that Apple calls it the iPhone 13, makes a joke about superstitions when launching the product and continues as usual.

After a major refresh of the exterior design with the iPhone 12, I expect Apple to leave things in 2021. The new iPhone will look more or less like the current models, albeit with some new colors, texture variations and maybe a smaller “notch” for the TrueDepth camera stack.

iPhone lightning Michael DeAgonia / IDG

The Lightning port on the iPhone will live for at least another year.

It looks like it’s probably going to take another year or two before Apple tries out a foldable iPhone, but I would not be shocked if we get a ‘portless’ iPhone created by omitting the Lightning port. If that happens, Apple will likely revise the MagSafe connector launched this year to also support data transfers and throw one in the box. But if I had to predict – and I do, which is why I’m here – I would guess that the much-rumored homeless iPhone will not happen in 2021. Why force yourself to include a MagSafe charger if you can sell them as profitable additions?

If you risk Apple making some camera enhancements on the new iPhone, you’ll never fail. I’m sure the next iPhone cameras will be better, bigger, better able to record photos and videos, you name it. The sensor stabilization feature introduced on the iPhone 12 Pro Max this year could potentially return to the iPhone Pro. And I predict Apple will continue with super-high-end features in the Pro Max.

Finally, I’m going to predict that the global pandemic will eventually have an impact on the iPhone product line. Thanks to the appearance of masks in society and the unfortunate hurdle they pose to Face ID scans, I predict that Apple will roll the button-built Touch ID from this year’s iPad Air to the next iPhone, as a compliment to Face ID.

For sure iPad updates

I don’t want to sound ungrateful, but the 2020 iPad Pro update was overwhelming. The iPad Pro’s A12Z processor is now based on two-year-old technology. The whole update felt like a placeholder, and by 2021 we should have a properly iPad Pro update, one that uses an A14X processor that offers performance similar to what we see on the Mac with the M1.

The other addition I would like to predict for the iPad Pro is its display. I don’t think the iPad Pro will get bigger – because someone who uses a 12.9-inch model every day is already pretty big. To make both the model bigger, Apple will force to produce new models of the Magic Keyboard as well, which is a pain.

But what about the display technology in the iPad Pro? There are conflicting rumors about whether Apple will use mini-LED technology in the iPad Pro. But it looks like the iPad Pro could declare a true HDR screen, something Apple would shoot for, no?

OS updates coming

Apple always surprises us with OS updates, and iOS 15 will no doubt bring some surprising new features and adjustments from old standards.

ipados 14 appeal

The following version of iPadOS may include a designed home screen.

What I’m most interested in, though, is bringing an iOS 13 feature to the iPad for the first time: a redesigned home screen with the ability to place Widgets anywhere, rather than in a sidebar on one page . I can see why Apple did not try to rebuild the iPad’s home screen during the same cycle as the iPhone, but now is the time. It’s time for a rethink of the whole thing, perhaps even more deviating from the design of the iPhone than you would expect. I think it will happen.

But other than that, I think we might be having a relatively quiet year for iOS. There will be a lot of work going on below the surface – Apple needs to improve the flow of apps from iPhone and iPad to Mac, work to better unify iPad and Mac Catalyst development and develop SwiftUI as the multi-platform future of writing software for Apple software platforms.

But for the average user, I think it looks like a smaller update year. Some unexpected additions, developer upgrades and bug fixes. After a year like 2020, I think it might be wise for all of us to heal wounds, repair bugs, and add as little drama to the proceedings as possible.

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