2012 was a pretty good year for Apple. It released two versions of the iPad; a totally new iPad mini; a completely redesigned iPhone and iPod touch, as well as iPod nanos; super-thin MacBook Pros with Retina displays; and an incredibly designed new iMac. The company also had a few low-points, namely Maps and some major reshuffling of its executive leadership.
However, the end of the year is always a time to look forward, so here are five things I hope we see from Apple in 2013. Admittedly, most of these are relatively minor -- and all are software-based -- but Apple pretty much refreshed every major hardware product in 2012, so I don't expect to see many new designs next year.
1. A redesigned Apple TV interface inspired by iTunes 11
I'm kind of cheating on this one, because I've been told by a trusted source that Apple is already working on an iTunes 11-ish overhaul of the Apple TV interface. Nevertheless, this is something I had been hoping for since I saw the new iTunes 11 UI. Currently the Apple TV has an iOS Springboard homepage interface -- big buttons represent various channels on the Apple TV. While that works fine for the main menu, I'd like to see an improved graphical elements in the submenus.
Most submenus now look pretty much like the old Front Row interface: lines of text that lead to more lists. Apple really hit a strong navigation note with iTunes 11's expanded view album/TV series art interface. When/if this does come to the Apple TV it will make navigating your libraries much simpler -- plus it will bring unity between iTunes on your computer and iTunes on your Apple TV. That's all the Apple TV is, essentially -- just another version of iTunes, with a ten-foot UI.
A few bonus features for the Apple TV I would like to see: a BBC iPlayer channel and the ability to display the iTunes visualizer while playing music through your Apple TV. The flipping album art display is getting old. Unlike the iTunes 11-esque redesign, I don't have any info about whether or not these are in development.
As for why a real Apple television isn't on my list -- I don't think we'll be seeing one in 2013 at all. Maybe in 2014. Maybe.
2. A new iWork for OS X and iOS
The last major version of iWork for OS X came out on January 6, 2009. Yeah, in just about a week that will be four years ago. Sure, it's received some minor updates since then like iCloud support and Retina display support, but besides that Apple's office productivity suite has not been updated in four years. Most of us don't have computers that old.
iWork for OS X needs improvements. Pages alone has fallen well behind the capabilities of what the latest version of Microsoft Word can do. In the four years since its last release I get more and more errors when importing Word documents into Pages. Pages doesn't even offer Document Map support yet -- a basic feature for anyone who deals with large manuscripts. Numbers and Keynote have fallen behind as well.
The iOS version of iWork has received more love, but still its pretty useless if you use it with iCloud. Currently any time I open a more than basic Numbers, Pages, or Keynote document created in OS X on my iOS version of iWork the iOS version tells me it wants to remove any number of important elements. It then gives me a choice to remove these elements and open up the current document or remove the elements and open up a copy of the current document.
Choosing either option makes the iCloud sync support useless. I may end up with a crippled original document; otherwise I get multiple copies of that document, where some instances have the elements I want and some are scaled down and have new edits, but lack all the elements of the original. Neither is optimal, and that's why iWork for iOS is virtually useless in most cases.
Hopefully 2013 will see an updated iWork for OS X and a functioning version for iOS.
3. A new iLife for OS X
There was a time not five years ago when iLife was a major selling point of Apple's. Now, however, as iOS devices are the most important component of Apple's business, it's not as important for the company to keep adding features to its flagship media suite to lure more switchers to the Mac. After all, iPhone and iPads are now the primary driving force behind luring switchers.
The last version of iLife came out on October 20, 2010. That's more than two years ago. I'd love to see some of the advances from Final Cut Pro and Aperture (and other digital video and photo editing apps) make it into a new iLife.
4. The fall of skeuomophism in iOS 7 and OS X 10.9
After the Maps debacle, Tim Cook booted Scott Forstall, who was primarily responsible for leading the charge in Apple's mapping solution. With Forstall's exit the primary proponent of skeuomophism in iOS and OS X was gone. Now that Jony Ive is in charge of the look of both operating systems -- and it's rumored he hated the skeuomophic design of some of the apps -- here's hoping iOS 7 and OS X 10.9 see the skeuomophic design jettisoned from Calendar, Address Book, Reminders, Notes, and more.
Apple's devices are elegant, and the software on them should look elegant too.
5. The Movie Trailers app for the rest of the world
This isn't going to appeal to readers in the US, but for the rest of the world its baffling that Apple has yet to release the Movie Trailers iOS app outside of America. It's Apple's only app -- on any platform -- that is a US-only app. And there's no logic to this. Using Siri I can get movie showtimes on my iPhone and iPad in the UK, so I know Apple is capable of culling that information.
Apple also offers its movie trailers website in multiple countries. So why limit its awesome Movie Trailer app to only America? It makes absolutely no sense and here's hoping I can check UK show-times on my app soon (I have the app through my US iTunes account) and that my fellow Brits and Apple users in other countries can soon download the app.
Well, that's my hopes for what Apple brings in 2013. Let me know yours in the comments!