Make no mistake: Apple had a pretty great 2020. Granted, it faced a fair amount of hardships, not the least of which is its ongoing fight with Epic Games. Overall, though, the company closed out 2020 with a ton of wins, including its biggest year ever for launching new iPhones.
In 2021, the company is probably going to keep chugging along doing what it does best: releasing expertly designed products that work incredibly well within its “walled garden” ecosystem. But there’s still plenty of room for improvement. 2021 could see the company finally address some of its most glaring problems.
Below, you’ll find the five things we want to see most from Apple in 2021. Keep in mind we are only putting realistic things on this list. That means no wishing for iMessage to come to Android, no touchscreen MacBooks, no foldable iPhones, etc. Our list only includes things that could happen in 2021.
1. Give the iPhone a modern makeover
The iPhone of today looks drastically different from the first iPhone in 2007. However, the four devices in the iPhone 12 lineup don’t look too different from the design first introduced with the iPhone X in 2017. If you only looked at the display, you’d be hard-pressed to identify an iPhone launched over the past three years. This stands in heavy contrast to the world of Android which has gone through a ton of design changes recently. We hope to see Apple change things up in 2021 too.
Outside of the front of the iPhone, there are quite a few things Apple needs to either bring back or bring in for the first time. In 2021, we really hope to see a higher refresh rate display on an iPhone. We also hope to see fast wireless charging (and more consistent protocols, at that) and support for other audio codecs besides just AAC.
We also hope Apple understands by now that going all-in on Face ID wasn’t the best move. In the age of COVID-19, not having a fingerprint scanner on your phone is more of a hindrance than anything else.
The bottom line here is that Apple is still resting on its laurels a bit too much when it comes to its star product. It might not need to jump on every new design and feature trend, but there are some things it can’t afford to ignore. Let’s hope the company plays a bit of catch-up in 2021.
2. A more open Apple Watch
Without any hyperbole, the Apple Watch Series 6 was the best smartwatch of 2020. Hands-down. In fact, it blows away pretty much every smartwatch on the market.
However, you can’t use an Apple Watch without an iPhone. If you buy one on its own it simply won’t work until you pair it with an iPhone. On top of that, sustaining access to all its health tracking and other functions requires you to periodically sync it with an iPhone. Simply put, the Apple Watch is for iPhone users only.
It’s in Apple’s own best interest to change this in 2021. It already bent the rules a bit in 2020 by allowing parents to set up Apple Watches for their kids without the need to attach those watches to iPhones. All it needs to do now is allow anyone to buy the Watch and pair it with an Android phone, tablet, or even a Windows PC.
Allowing Android users to buy an Apple Watch will only make them more likely to switch from Android to iOS. It’s an easy way to grab new loyalists!
Here’s hoping that, in 2021, Apple brings universal compatibility to the Watch. At the very least, it could create a separate Watch product that works with other systems.
3. An Apple TV Stick
When you consider Apple TV Plus arrived pretty late to the streaming wars, it’s a real achievement that it’s doing as well as it is. Strangely though, Apple’s own hardware for streaming entertainment — the Apple TV — is over three years old.
Multiple rumors support the idea that Apple will rectify this in 2021 with a new set-top box. It should have the usual upgrades: a faster processor, a new remote, etc. However, it will likely still be pretty expensive. The current-gen Apple TV 4K starts at a whopping $179. The next-gen version will probably stick to that price or go even higher.
What the company needs is to release something much more affordable to better compete with Roku, Amazon, and Google. An Apple TV Stick would make the most sense. If Apple could keep the price at around $50, it would do exceptionally well. It would only help to bolster subscriptions to Apple TV Plus.
The existence of the iPhone SE and the low entry pricing for the iPhone 12 series prove Apple isn’t above offering competitively priced products. Time will tell if it offers a cheaper entry in the streaming hardware space, but it would be silly to skip it.
4. Revamped App Store policies
Apple is in an all-out legal brawl with Epic Games, the company behind Fortnite. The legal battle is over how much money Apple takes from developers who release products through the official App Store, among other App Store policies.
We’re not going to go into all the nuance of the legal fight here, but it illuminates a real problem Apple has on its hands. Regardless of which side you support, the Apple/Epic battle proves the App Store is outdated. Its policies need to get a refresh for the world as it is today.
This is proven even further when you talk about cloud gaming. This year, Google Stadia, Xbox Game Pass, and Nvidia GeForce Now paved the way for the future of game streaming, but none of those apps are available in an official capacity on iPhones and iPads. App Store policies don’t allow for them to operate in a consumer-friendly fashion.
We fully understand the App Store is Apple’s property, and it should be able to do with it as it wishes. However, refusing to change with the times is a death knell in the tech world, and that’s essentially what Apple is doing here. Sure, it slightly reworked things by giving smaller developers a more generous cut of their profits, but that’s too little too late. Here’s hoping that, in 2021, the company realizes that the times they are a-changin’.
5. The end of the Lightning port
This is something we ask for every year. This year, more than any other, it’s absolutely possible Apple will finally do it.
Apple has already moved to the universal USB-C format with nearly every product it makes. That includes MacBooks and iPads. Even the latest iPhones use USB-C ports for their not-included-in-the-box charging bricks. The only thing left is that damn Lightning port on the bottom of every modern iPhone.
Rumors abound that there could be a fully port-less iPhone launched in 2021. If this ends up being true, it would allow Apple to skip right over putting USB-C ports into iPhones and just go all-in on wireless charging and connectivity. However, not everyone will be able to afford (or want) that port-less iPhone. Therefore, Apple will still need wired ports on future smartphones, and they need to be USB-C and not Lightning.
If nothing else, it’s impossible for Apple to keep up its “We’re a green company that really cares for the environment” while simultaneously creating unneeded waste with a proprietary cabling system.
You tell us: What do you want to see from Apple in 2021?
We think the five things listed above are 2021 changes that every Apple fan would appreciate. However, some might be more important to you than others. Now’s your chance to let us know which one would mean the most to you. Just vote in our poll below.
If you’re feeling talkative, you can explain your choice in the comments below. You can also let us know if there’s something even more important than these five things that you hope to see from Apple in 2021.