The next MacBook Pros could bring back some sorely missed features. (John Tekeridis via Pexels/)
The 2021 Consumer Electronics Show just finished up, which means there are plenty of new gadgets to gawk at. But, true technology dorks are never satisfied with what we know now, so we’re always looking toward the next bit of shiny gear coming down the line. That’s part of what makes rumors so intriguing. Unfortunately, they’re not always sourced from the most reliable information and the predictions don’t always come to pass. Here’s a look at the current crop of tech and gadget rumors as well as a little insight into how likely they are to end up panning out in the real world.
Apple’s new 14- and 16-inch MacBook Pros are going to be awesome
At the end of 2020, Apple introduced its first laptops powered by its new X1 chip. It was the first generation of machines running on Apple’s own silicon after its breakup with Intel, and the resulting products were extremely impressive. It left people wondering when the bigger MacBook Pros would show up on the scene.
According to TF International Securities analyst Ming-chi Kuo, those MBPs will show up in the middle of 2021—and they may come with some very welcome upgrades. The report claims Apple will switch back to its MagSafe power adapters, which easily disconnect from the machine should you snag the cable. It’s a feature that’s sorely missed. The new laptops may also ditch the generally maligned Touch Bar that relegates common keyboard functions to a finicky touch-sensitive surface right in front of the screen.
Gut check: Kuo is a reliable source when it comes to Apple information, so the rumor’s pedigree is solid. It would also make sense for Apple to bring some form of MagSafe back to its laptops now that it has been reborn as a system to charge iPhones. As for the Touch Bar, that feature has garnered a steady stream of negative reactions from reviewers, so nixing it could be a good way to give the new computers a slight advantage over their aging counterparts.
LG’s Rolling phone is coming in 2021
While Samsung and many other manufacturers have been concentrating their efforts on folding devices, LG has been long-teasing a phone with a screen that unrolls to expand into a small tablet. The device would look like a typical smartphone when collapsed, but it could extend into a much larger display using LG’s now-familiar flexible OLED screen tech.
Gut check: We know it’s real—LG briefly showed the device called Rollable during its CES 2021 press conference. In fact, it was the opening shot of the presentation. The phone is reportedly headed for store shelves later this year, but we don’t have much more information beyond that. So far, LG has only sold its rolling screen tech in a massive TV that costs more than $80,000, so you shouldn’t expect the first generation of the Rollable phone to come cheap.
Amazon working on radar-equipped sleep apnea tracker
Alexa-powered smart devices can already see and hear what you’re doing via connected smart devices, but Amazon may soon offer a device that watches people sleep in an effort to identify and manage sleep apnea. The device will reportedly sit next to a person’s bed and use millimeter-wave radar waves to observe their breathing patterns, which apnea alters.
Gut check: Amazon jumped into the fitness tracker space last year and it has been slowly increasing the number of connected devices it offers for people to place around their homes. Radar is capable of monitoring a person’s sleep and several companies—including Nintendo, oddly—have floated the idea for a radar-based sleep tracker in the past. Considering how prevalent health and wellness devices were at the 2021 CES show, this doesn’t seem far-fetched for Amazon at all. But is it creepy? You decide.
Microsoft is planning to give Windows a visual makeover
This one traces back to a job listing Microsoft posted online. It’s for a member of the Windows Core User Experience Team and it’s seeking someone to work on a “sweeping visual rejuvenation of Windows experiences to signal to our customers that Windows is BACK.”
The changes would include redesigning basically all the graphical elements associated with the operating system. The File Explorer and Start button will look different, and some core apps will get visual upgrades to match.
Gut check: Microsoft hasn’t exactly been hush-hush about its intentions to make Windows look swankier. Thanks to its Fluent Design system, the company has the means to make system-wide changes to the look of its OS, and it seems likely that will be the case before the end of 2021.
Apple will build a self-driving electric car
According to a Reuters report, Apple’s self-driving electric car project—known internally as Project Titan—could come to fruition by 2024. The vehicle would rely on a new kind of battery technology that would reportedly increase range while decreasing price. Because of the reduced cost, Apple’s ride could work as a personal vehicle rather than as part of a ride-hailing taxi service like Google envisions its Waymo project to pan out.
Gut check: It’s still wild to envision an Apple car, but it’s not a new concept. The project has reportedly been in the works since 2014 and has undergone some recent changes when former Tesla employee Doug Field returned as the project head in 2018. Apple seems to have drastically over-delivered on its promises regarding making its own computer chips, so it’s not out of the question that it could provide EV batteries with a leap ahead, too.
Apple is working on folding iPhone prototypes
Testers at Foxconn in Taiwan may already be testing prototype versions of the folding iPhone. Still, rumors suggest we won’t see the final product launching this year with the iPhone 13, but rather in 2022. And, it may come toting a flexible version of Apple’s super-tough ceramic screen coating to protect that flappy display.
Gut check: The company already owns several patents regarding flexible screen mobile devices. The early information is still rather scattered, with some reports claiming that it will be a single folding screen and others suggesting it will actually be two different displays with a hinge in-between similar to the Microsoft Surface Duo. We’re not expecting it this year, to be sure, but maybe something will emerge by 2022.
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