In the 100 issues since MacLife launched, Apple has gone through some changes; the first issue of MacLife landed just after the iPhone was announced, but before it had launched. It’s fair to say that the last eight years have seen Apple enter a new period with a level of success that would have seemed a wild prediction even when the iPod was the hottest gadget on the planet.
But it’s not just Apple that’s changed — everyone else’s expectations of Apple have changed too. As it went from being a company with a couple of really big revolutions in its history (the Lisa/Mac and the iPod, though the latter was a slow burner), the incredibly fertile period after the iPhone meant that many people started to see it as a company that had something game-changing up its sleeve every year. There was an iPhone here, a MacBook Air there, the iPad coming into view — the idea of what’s coming next from Apple became big business.
And we joyfully took part at MacLife, of course, producing our yearly “Apple’s Next Big Thing” feature, where we tried to predict what the next bomb Apple would drop on the tech world would be. It’s always fun to look at the tech advances currently in development and think about what Apple could do with it in the future.
Of course, what’s more fun is to look back at our cover stars for these predictions with the perfect hindsight time gives us, and poke fun at where we went wrong.... Here are MacLife’s big predictions from the last 100 issues.
January 2008 — If Apple had gone with a pocket watch look for the Apple Watch instead of going wrist-mounted, maybe this would have been pretty close to the mark. Clearly, this would be the sports version, with adjustable band for...gym use? Anyway, there could still have been a gold version, at least. We're not 100 percent convinced the name Squidget would have caught on, but then “iPad” wasn’t exactly brilliantly received as a name at the time. Who are we to say?
June 2008 — A little bonus future-gazing here from the same year. At this point, we’re probably ready to put the dream of a tablet Mac that docks with an iMac-style cradle to rest, but it still sounds really cool. Totally unnecessary, but cool.
January 2009 — Okay, let’s start by considering the scale of this flappy beast. Assuming that’s a normal-sized CD on the right and that we weren’t predicting the return of LaserDisc, that keyboard would be TINY — a couple of centimeters deep at most. And, going from that, the text in the iChat and Safari windows would have been equally miniscule. We hope this thing came with a Retina screen, at least. Also, despite the MacBook Air having already arrived, it looks like we hadn’t spotted that the death of optical disc drives in laptops was inevitable. We’re not surprised this design didn’t take off with insiders at Apple, despite literally having wings.
January 2010 — Right idea(ish), wrong company. Ignore Google Glass for a second — did you see Sony’s glasses that are disturbingly similar to this? Of course, Sony wasn’t smart enough to include a full-on iPod too, like we did, and that’s the only the reason its glasses will fail. Yup, the only reason.
January 2011 — Bendy screens are totally happening, guys! Did you see the LG TV where you can adjust the curve (all the way to flat, where you’ll probably keep it)? Okay, rolling a screen all the way up so it can fit in a little box to pull out whenever you need it is a little further off, but hey. Although that does appear to still be Google Maps on that floppy tablet. We got that one wrong.
February 2012 — Considering Apple’s acquisition of Beats Audio and its ostentatious headphones, this brightly-colored in-ear iPod design actually seems somehow more feasible now than it did three years ago. Still pretty unlikely though. That said, that design could also double as a cufflink version of the Apple Watch, which is just the kind of fashion innovation we must all expect from Apple every six months now that it’s got into that area. Get on it, Ive.
March 2013 — See-through screens exist. The real question is what advantage they offer for people who haven’t turned every inch of desk space into a fish tank and can’t afford to change it back. As for the idea of computers as just thin clients for the cloud – well, that’s more of a Google direction than Apple at the moment, but Apple does have the iCloud version of iWork, so who knows — the winds of change can yank the umbrella of expectations from your grasp in less time than it takes to write a horrendous and confusing weather metaphor.
April 2014 — Square icons? On the Apple Watch? Ho ho ho, silly, quaint us from last year — the future is round icons! Also, look how thin our design is. Considering the real Watch gets only a few hours of active use (a day’s overall use) without charging, this presumably would have contained precisely enough power for you to look at the time once before the screen blinked off for good. Of course, we didn't manage to predict the Digital Crown, because, come on, who the hell saw that coming?