Optimism! It's heady stuff, which is why it's best reserved for wish list articles published just before the new year. It's been a dramatic year in the Apple world, but that doesn't mean there isn't more to come in 2016. Here's my wish list for what I'd like to see from Apple (and Apple-related companies) in the next year.
A 4-inch iPhone
You know, not everybody likes big phones. Lots of people do, which is why Samsung had huge success with the Galaxy Note and why Apple's two flagship iPhone models -- the iPhone 6s and the iPhone 6s Plus -- are both much larger than the original model. Their screens are bright, their batteries are big, it's all pretty good.
But some people don't feel that bigger is better. Some people have small hands, or small pockets, or otherwise phones the size of the old iPhone 5 series. Up to now, those people have been able to keep buying the iPhone 5s, but at some point that model is going to be so old that it will need to be dropped from Apple's price lists.
Apple has shown flexibility in offering its products in different sizes--the iPad comes in three different sizes right now! So why not continue the flexibility in its most profitable product category, buy creating a replacement for the iPhone 5s that features some of the technologies found in the iPhone 6 or 6s? This can be a step-down phone with last year's hardware, even. But Apple shouldn't abandon the smaller phone size--I firmly believe there's a market there.
More iPad improvements
The iPad came a long way in 2015. Apple showed the device some serious love in iOS 9, adding a bunch of iPad productivity features after many years of treating the iPad like an afterthought. So now it's time to keep the ball rolling. I'd like to see a whole raft of new productivity features in iOS 10, included improved keyboard multitasking functionality.
The arrival of the iPad Pro was a big moment for the iPad product line this year, but the iPad Pro needs the support of third party developers, too. I'd like to see many more Smart Connector accessories in the new year, including some alternatives to the two existing keyboards, and better cases, too. Third-party app developers need to update their apps to support iPad Pro, too--I'm shocked at how many apps still appear on the iPad Pro in an upscaled compatibility mode.
Proper support for families across iCloud
Some of the services Apple offers--Apple Music is a good example--have family features that let you share functionality across multiple Apple IDs. And Apple also a Family Sharing feature that has some benefits, including sharing apps across IDs. But this functionality is still woefully limited and needs to be improved.
Right now, each family member has to pay for their own separate iCloud storage account, rather than drawing from a shared pool. You can't be logged into one Apple ID for iCloud Photo Library and a different one for Find My iPhone, and there's no way to share an entire iCloud Photo Library with multiple accounts.
In 2016 I'd like to see Apple roll out a comprehensive iCloud update that enables members of a family to share stroage, photos, and pretty much everything else that you'd want to share with your family.
Continued Apple Watch improvement
So the Apple Watch was introduced in 2014 and shipped in 2015. For 2016, it's time for Apple to keep on doing what it does so well--iterating on a product. I still wear my Apple Watch every day, and like it, but the fact is that it's a first-generation product. Every product line needs to grow and evolve and have room to come into its own.
I'm hoping there's updated Apple Watch hardware in 2016--it would be strange for Apple to go more than two years since the initial announcement with no new hardware--as well as another major update to watchOS that will bring improvements and bug fixes to all Apple Watch models, old and new. (It's important that Apple show a commitment to keeping older Apple Watch models up to date, so that people don't feel their Apple Watch purchases will only be good for a year or two.)
Thunderbolt and Retina all the things
In 2015 Apple shipped a laptop, the MacBook, with a USB-C port, and Intel announced that Thunderbolt 3 (the latest generation of its high-speed connection technology) would be port compatible with USB-C. These are two great tastes that taste great together; sometime in 2016 I'd like to see Apple shift the entire Mac product line to Thunderbolt 3.
The 21.5-inch iMac still comes in non-Retina configurations, but I'd like to see that go away in 2016. More importantly, I'd love to see Apple come out with a gorgeous external Thunderbolt 3 Retina display, ready for attaching to MacBook Pro, MacBook, Mac Pro, and Mac mini models.
Death to spinning discs
Apple still sells desktop computers with spinning hard drives. Stop the madness: It's time for Apple to replace them all with SSDs. Or, failing that--it's probably not practical, price wise--at least ensure that every spinning disc storage configuration it sells is a "Fusion Drive" that combines an SSD with a traditional hard drive, to improve storage speed. The 21.5-inch 4K iMac ships with a 5400rpm spinning disk drive, and it's a tragedy.