The rumor mill was remarkably right. On Tuesday, Apple revealed practically everything we expected it to reveal at its “By Innovation Only” iPhone 11 event. You can watch our supercut (above), read our recap, or skim through our detailed live blog for all the highlights, but arguably the only true surprises were these:
But what about all the things Apple didn’t announce? These are the biggest surprises we’re still waiting for — and if history’s any guide, you’ll see some of them at a follow-up Apple event as soon as next month.
The 16-inch MacBook Pro
Normally, we wouldn’t have expected yet another MacBook Pro in September — or later this year at all. Apple already refreshed its MacBook Pros with new processors in May, and it’s not like Apple to Osborne its products unless there’s a good reason.
But if you trust reliable Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, there is a very good reason: Apple will finally get rid of the controversial butterfly keyboard that’s been plaguing its laptops for years, and both Kuo and Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman have been pretty adamant the new laptop will arrive in 2019, not later. IHS Markit analyst Jeff Lin said it might arrive this September, but now we’re expecting it to show up in October instead, a month when Apple will often show off new iPads and Macs.
New iPad Pros
Speaking of iPads… while we did get the rumored 10.2-inch $329 iPad that does a solid impression of a laptop now that you can snap on a folio keyboard, Apple’s “What’s a computer?” iPad Pros are also due for some upgrades this year, according to Bloomberg. We’re expecting faster processors and improved cameras on both the 11-inch and 12.9-inch iPad Pros, if nothing more.
Traditionally, Apple’s priciest iPads include its most powerful processor, so you can probably expect the iPhone 11’s A13 Bionic to be joined by an even beefier A13X chip for iPads this October.
Apple’s Tile-like tag tracker
Blink and you missed it, but Apple quietly introduced a special new chip during its Tuesday event — an ultra-wideband radio called the Apple U1 designed to help you locate things with your iPhone. Specifically, Apple says it lets the new iPhone 11 family find other Apple devices with the same U1 chip inside — but for now, the only feature is letting you share photos with AirDrop just by pointing at someone else’s phone.
We’re pretty sure Apple won’t stop there, though, because Apple’s own iOS 13 code showed that the company’s testing a Tile-like tracker you could presumably attach to other things in the real world. Stick one in your purse or onto your keys, and you should be able to find them with Apple’s Find My app.
It’s also a good bet Apple will include the U1 chip in future iPads — making it easier to find them when they’re stuck between your couch cushions. I wouldn’t count on Apple fitting another radio into new AirPods, but that’d be nice, too.
Mac Pro and Pro Display XDR availability
Apple’s totally redesigned $6,000+ modular desktop PC and insanely bright $5,000 monitor have been listed as “coming this fall” since June. It is now fall.
Maybe Apple will just decide to set them loose one day, but I think it’s far more likely we’ll hear about them alongside a new MacBook Pro at an October event.
A new Apple TV set-top box
Apple’s about to unleash its Apple TV Plus subscription service on November 1st — not to mention Apple Arcade — but the company’s flagship Apple TV 4K set-top box is two years out of date, and it’s still selling a four-year-old model as the Apple TV HD. What if it introduced a new model in October with a new processor to better run those services?
The rumor is we’ll get a new Apple TV with an A12 chip, but it’s not clear when Apple might roll it out.
New noise-canceling AirPods
We knew this was a possibility — for many months, a higher-end “Pro” version of Apple’s AirPods have been rumored to add water resistance and noise cancellation to Apple’s popular accessory.
Initially, we thought Apple’s water-resistant Powerbeats Pro were the realization of that rumor, but that assumption didn’t last long: new rumors from Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo and DigiTimes suggested that Apple still plans to release more AirPods in 2019. But Bloomberg since said they’ve been pushed to 2020, so we’re not counting on October for these.
Last year, Kuo and Bloomberg also mentioned a pair of over-ear headphones that would be distinct from the high-end AirPods, which could potentially ship in the second half of 2019, but the rumor mill’s been pretty quiet ever since. In March, engineers reportedly told Bloomberg they’d had a rough time in development and might even get scrapped.
Wouldn’t it be nice if you could buy an Apple HomePod speaker without spending nearly $299 — much less the $349 it cost at launch? That’s the rumor: a cheaper, presumably smaller HomePod with fewer speaker drivers inside at a price more like $150 or $200. But Bloomberg says that like the new AirPods, we shouldn’t expect it until 2020.
Reverse wireless charging so your phone can charge your buds
Less than 24 hours before Apple’s keynote, one of the strongest iPhone rumors suddenly turned to ash: that the new iPhones would include bidirectional wireless charging to let you top up your wirelessly charging AirPods just by plopping their case onto the back of your phone.
Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo suggested that the feature had been scrapped because it didn’t meet Apple’s efficiency standards. It’s vaguely possible Apple could enable such a thing with a software update, but that would require a lot more testing and certification — it’s far more likely we’ll have to wait until next year’s iPhones, assuming Apple hasn’t nixed the idea altogether.
Apple Watch sleep tracking
You would expect a new flagship Apple Watch feature to debut alongside a new flagship Apple Watch, but Tuesday’s introduction of the Apple Watch Series 5 came with no mention of Apple’s rumored sleep tracking feature.
Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman initially reported that Apple would add it to the Watch by 2020 if its tests were successful, and 9to5Mac’s Guilherme Rambo suggested it could have arrived this week, but it’s possible Apple is saving it for a future watchOS update. With iOS 13 and 13.1, the company’s recently shown it’s willing to stagger new features across multiple tiny software releases instead of making them all available at launch.
The return of the fingerprint reader
Secure logins should get faster with this year’s iPhones, thanks to what Apple’s calling a 30 percent faster Face ID scanner that can recognize you from more angles as well — but if you’ve been longing for a fingerprint sensor, the latest rumors are that Apple will put one underneath the iPhone’s glass screen in 2020 or perhaps 2021.
Most of Apple’s biggest competitors have in-display fingerprint readers and they’ve been rumored to come to the iPhone for years, but they aren’t universally fast and accurate. It’s possible Apple wants the tech to mature a little more before it piles on.
A 5G iPhone
There are two obvious reasons why Apple might wait before it adopts 5G cellular.
One, 5G barely exists yet.
Two, Apple had to shift gears drastically when its plans to use Intel 5G modems fizzled, reportedly forcing the company to settle all its lawsuits with Qualcomm so Apple could use Qualcomm as a supplier instead. That ended up killing Intel’s modem business, which Apple wound up buying in the end. Serious corporate drama.
We are expecting 5G iPhones in 2020 — numerous reports attest to that.
The Apple Glasses
If you were hoping Apple would pull a “one more thing” and finally announce its long-rumored augmented reality headset at its September event, you weren’t alone. (Me, I’m talking about me. I wanted that.)
But every major report — Bloomberg, CNET, Ming-Chi Kuo — has suggested Apple would likely introduce such a thing in 2020, not 2019.
On the plus side, we just got what looks like our first implicit confirmation from Apple that such a device is actually in testing.
USB-C iPhones, so we can finally charge all our Apple devices with the same charger and cable as MacBooks and iPad Pros and, hell, every new Android phone and a lot of Windows laptops
This year’s iPhones should be the last with Lightning, Dieter argued in July. He’s still right.