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Here's what Apple's planning for 2016

Ryan Faas | Jan. 4, 2016
Coming in the new year: Apple Watch 2, new iPhones (of course), and expanded Apple Pay

Rose Gold iPhone 6S Plus
Ken Mingis 2015 saw the arrival of a new iPhone color: Rose Gold.

New iPhones (and maybe even a new 4-in. model)

Of course, Apple will announce a new generation of iPhones next fall, likely delivering an all-new design. Rumors that the company will also introduce a new 4-in. model in the spring seem less solid. Although Apple has kept the smaller iPhone 5S around, it appears that's simply so it can offer an entry-level device for no money down with a contract. If Apple sticks to its current approach of offering a two-year-old model at this price point, it would logically maintain the current iPhone 6 in that spot. Of course, with carriers (and Apple) moving away from traditional contracts toward leasing or monthly payment plans, Apple might not see the need for such a bargain-basement device. The mix could then include a newer but still smaller iPhone.

Apple Pay sticker
Ryan Faas Apple Pay sticker on the door at the Crush and Cask in Saratoga Springs, N.Y.

Expanding Apple Pay

Apple Pay has seen a fair amount of growth in the U.S., particularly in the number of banks and other financial institutions supporting the platform. Widespread acceptance at merchants has grown at a slower pace, though the liability shift this fall that encouraged merchants to begin accepting EMV chip cards has spurred some wider adoption, including in the small business sector. As mobile payment processors like Square begin shipping appropriate readers, this should encourage broader acceptance.

Outside the US, however, Apple Pay has struggled to gain traction. Limited card issuers supporting Apple Pay in countries like Australia, Canada, and Spain make widespread adoption challenging. Complicating the matter is that these countries have been using the more secure cards just now being introduced in the U.S. for some time. The result: Less incentive for merchants to begin accepting Apple Pay.

Apple will definitely want to focus on getting its payment platform more widely accepted in the U.S. and abroad -- that's obvious from its deal early this month with UnionPay in China. Ironically, Google's efforts to expand Android Pay will probably help Apple Pay expand as well given that both platforms rely on contactless NFC payment terminals.

Getting iOS out of the way of the iPad Pro

One consistent thread among iPad Pro reviews has been that the device's hardware is held back by the constraints of iOS. This will prove an interesting challenge for Apple to solve. The company definitely wants to maintain a consistent mobile OS and maintain it as separate from OS X. Expanding iOS across a broad range of form factors, storage capacities and processing capabilities isn't an easy feat. Likewise, the iOS App Store approach doesn't scale well when it comes to pro apps because of the lack of support for paid upgrades, a factor that some developers see as an Achilles's heel for the device. (Similar complaints have been made by some developers exiting the Mac App Store as well.)


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