As Apple's iPhone sales in China decimates because of a new coronavirus outbreak, the strain slashed the demand for smartphones. But analysts predict a giant recovery is simply some months away.
Analysts say everyone is going to be competing to build up for lost sales later this year. However, there's still good and bad news for Apple, while coronavirus continues to unfold.
Coming soon: New MacBook, iPhone camera
Tech analyst Ming-Chi Kuo says Apple is going to reintroduce scissor-switch keyboards to more laptops soon. In a research note acquired by MacRumors, Kuo said new MacBook Pro and MacBook Air models are coming in the second quarter of 2020. The latest release would follow a pattern set by last year's 16-inch MacBook Pro, which replaced the unpopular and unreliable butterfly switches with a more traditional "Magic Keyboard."
Kuo recently indicated that this 13-inch MacBook Pro is replaced by a 14-inch model. Still, he hasn't said whether that will happen with this second-quarter update. The scissor-switch keyboard may come to the 13-inch model first before a more significant overhaul later. Apple has been shipping butterfly keyboards on all new laptop releases since 2016, so correcting course should be a priority.
Separately, Kuo has provided a bit more insight into his thoughts on Apple's long-rumored transition to ARM processors. According to MacRumor, Kuo said MacBook models with custom processors designed by Apple are likely to ship in the fourth quarter of 2020 or the first quarter of 2021. Further details on these machines were apparently not forthcoming, but Kuo does also say that all-new MacBook designs are planned for the second or third quarter of next year.
Apple will add a laser-powered time-of-flight (ToF) 3D rear camera to its iPhone 12 series, which will bring significant improvements in the form of new augmented reality experiences and better photos.
A report on Wednesday by Fast Company adds to those rumors, citing sources aware of Apple's plans. According to the report, Apple has tapped San Jose-based Lumentum to produce the VCSEL lasers that may power the "world-facing" 3D depth sensor in "at least one amongst this year's iPhones."
VCSELs, or vertical-cavity surface-emitting lasers, are a key component of Apple's TrueDepth camera since the iPhone X in 2017. The lasers power several flagship features like Face ID, Animoji, and Portrait mode selfies, yet because of the proximity-sensing capabilities of AirPods. However, a ToF camera system might be a major maximize from TrueDepth because of its more advanced use of laser.
Those rumors indicated that two higher-end iPhones coming this year will use the new time-of-flight rear camera, suggesting that it won't be available in the lower-end iPhones that are going to have a cheaper price tag.
Italian Apple Stores closed until further notice
Apple is indefinitely closing all 17 of its Apple Store retail locations in Italy because of the continuing spread of the coronavirus, in step with notices posted on the company's Italian website, as spotted by Bloomberg. The shop closings are effectively a formality, though, providing the entire country of Italy has already been placed on lockdown as of March 9th.
Apple has yet to mention when the stores will reopen, only noting that the stores "will remain closed until a later date." Italy's lockdown is currently set to lift on April 3rd. While the stores remain closed, Apple is instead directing customers to its support website for both phone or web-based customer support. The Italian shutdown marks the second closing of Apple's retail stores because of the virus - the corporate had previously closed all of its stores in China last month. However, as of on, virtually four of these Chinese stores have reopened.
Apple Limits AirPods and Apple Watch Try-Ons in Retail Stores to stop Coronavirus Spread
Customers can still ask to do on Apple Watch and AirPods models. Still, employees are told to not offer try-ons proactively or to encourage them to do so. Limited try-ons are a part of Apple's broader efforts to fight the coronavirus outbreak, which has infected over 1,000 people in the country.
As was reported earlier on, Apple has ordered product sanitation and reduced the number of chairs at the Genius Bar and cubes in the Forum area to feature additional space between customers.
In areas with more severe coronavirus outbreaks, like the Bay Area and Seattle, Today at Apple sessions are entirely packed up. An Apple spokesperson confirmed that Apple is indeed limiting crowding in stores, but declined to inquire into try-ons specifically.
Apple Stores in the United all remain open at this time, but in other areas hit hard by the coronavirus, Apple has closed retail locations. Stores in China were closed for much of February, and without delay, all stores in Italy are closed.