Apple's 'wild array' of expected 2022 releases include plenty for business

While the latest claims confirm earlier speculation, what’s key for enterprise pros in Apple's rumored announcements?

Apple, Mac, iPhone, iPad, iPad Pro, Apple Watch, enterprise

Apple plans what Mark Gurman describes as the “wildest array” yet of new hardware introductions this year. While these new expectations confirm earlier speculation about what's in the pipeline for consumer markets, what’s coming for enterprise pros this year?

Arriving this spring

Apple is preparing to make a range of announcements this spring, including an iPhone SE with 5G, new iPads and new Macs — potentially including a larger iMac and a souped-up new model Mac mini. Here's a rundown of what’s likely coming.

iPhone SE 5G

Coming in March or April, the iPhone SE will retain its current form, but gain a faster A15 processor and 5G support. The device should bring across more upgraders and switchers in the mid-range market, but the faster processor and 5G networking will have obvious benefits for enterprises seeking to stretch equipment budgets for mobile and remote employees. iPhone 14-series smartphones will be announced at the usual time in the fall.

Mac mini

The M1 Mac mini is a fantastic machine. Now, Apple plans to improve it with a new body design and a souped-up M-series processor (probably the M1 Pro or M1 Max). These small, but powerful, desktops will provide anyone with a compatible external display an option other than an all-in-one iMac or super-powerful (when it appears) Mac Pro.

Apple is expected to continue to offer its M1 Mac mini, but will basically be extending its range to include three models: Good, better, and best.

At the high end, the possibility to use a 32-core GPU, 64MB RAM and a 10-core CPU should provide the power you need for some of the most demanding tasks, such as video rendering or machine learning modelling. There has been speculation we may see additional Thunderbolt ports and the capacity to run multiple 4K displays.

A larger iMac

The latest speculation suggests the introduction of a larger-screened LED ProMotion iMac. This should boast an M1 Pro chip and may also be introduced in spring along with the Mac mini. This update may aim at the iMac Pro, potentially introducing a 12-core CPU and potentially called the M1 Max Pro. This chip could/may also be deployed in the Mac Pro later this year — this time in a multi-core version. This model again has implications in pro markets, and will probably be the most powerful Mac you can get, pending release of the souped-up M-powered Mac Pro later this year.

iPad Air and iPad Pro

Regulatory filings in Russia suggest Apple may have as many as eight (widely reported as nine) new iPad models scheduled to make their debut alongside the iPhone SE. While these will inevitably include both cellular and non-cellular models, and the latter may include devices destined for markets using different network frequencies, this does not account for nine devices. It is possible we’ll see new models of iPad Pro appear, or perhaps a larger iPad Air model to supplement what already exists. In that way, the iPad range would include iPad mini, the "normal" iPad, and larger and smaller versions of both iPad Air and iPad Pro.

Apple hasn’t yet introduced the coolest feature it announced at WWDC in June 2021, Universal Control. This lets you use the same keyboard and mouse across up to three Macs and iPads. It’s a feature that attracted lots of attention and it is easy to see how useful it may become to anyone working across mobile devices and Macs. It also makes sense to hope Universal Control will be introduced along with any new iPads Apple may unveil this spring.

What to expect in fall 2022

While the virtual WWDC 2022 event may see some of the following products introduced, the year will inexorably move to include new iPhones with a brand-new version of the current 5nm A-series processors to appear this fall. Apple also is likely to roll out the following systems of interest to pro users:

MacBook Pro, MacBook Air

Apple hasn’t forgotten about mobile professionals on a budget who don’t need the power and performance of Apple’s M1 Pro and M1 Max MacBook Pros. The company is working on new Apple notebooks, including a redesigned MacBook Air and an updated entry-level MacBook Pro.

The Air is expected to have thinner bezels and, like the iMac, ship in multiple colors. Thinner, it will abandon the famous wedged MacBook Air design and introduce a full-size keyboard.

Equipped with a faster M2 chip, but probably lacking an SD card slot or HDMI, the new Air has been called by Bloomberg the biggest redesign of these systems since 2010. Graphics performance should be slightly improved in the MacBook Air, which may appear as soon as mid-2022, but could shift into fall.  A 1080p webcam, mini-LED display, and MagSafe round out the improvements.

Bloomberg also anticipates that a replacement for Apple’s entry-level 13-in. MacBook Air will appear this year, probably running the M2 chip. Systems running (presumably) M2 Pro and M2 Max chips would then likely follow in 2023. The latter (scheduled for fall release) could also see OLED displays, which will eventually be introduced across the Apple notebook range.

The Mac Pro

The Mac Pro isn’t expected to appear until later this year. Two models are currently anticipated, including one Intel-powered system retaining the design of the current model and another M-powered Mac with a similar appearance, but about half the size.

The Intel-powered model may boast an Intel Ice Lake SP chip, according to MacRumors. The M-powered smaller device will boast up to 40 cores, a 128-core GPU and may also run multiple cores. It is possible the design of the smaller system will echo that of the new Mac mini Apple plans, creating a clear aesthetic language with which to define Apple’s non-iMac desktops.

Rugged Apple Watch

Apple’s rugged Apple Watch model may be aimed at adventure sports but will have implications in some businesses that make use of them. IBM provides watchOS apps for hospitals, law enforcement, public safety, and field service engineers. Rugged models make sense for many of these professionals.

What about the iPad Pro?

It is possible Apple may introduce a new model iPad Pro in spring, but if It does not, then these may not appear until fall. While there is some expectation at least some of these new models will introduce under-display Face or Touch ID, and that they may move to OLED display technology, the main improvements will be the move to A15 (or M1/M1 Pro) chips and the introduction of 5G support. Gurman does speculate a new iPad Pro with an M2 chip may debut, but this sounds like a system for introduction in fall. He also thinks that model will have wireless charging.

Bad news: Apple Eyes may not yet be smiling

Current speculation says Apple’s AR/VR glasses, originally expected in 2022, will not after all appear until next year as production challenges remain.

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