5 Apple products that deserved better in 2023

Macworld

It’s been a mixed year for Apple fans, with much of the company’s focus and developmental resources trained on 2024’s Vision Pro launch. While the Mac got a raft of updated models and an entirely new chip generation in 2023, the iPhone and Apple Watch both saw extremely conservative launches and the iPad got no launches at all.

But let’s imagine a different timeline; one where Vision Pro doesn’t exist and Apple’s engineers and designers have unlimited time to work on anything they fancy. In other words, which Apple products didn’t get an update in 2023, but should have?

Dominik Tomaszewski / Foundry

iPad mini

Of the iPads that were neglected in 2023—which is to say, all of them—the iPad mini was the most neglected. Whereas the standard iPad and iPad Pro last got a refresh as “recently” as October 2022, and the iPad Air was updated in March 2022, the sixth-gen iPad mini arrived in fall 2021. It’s seriously overdue. By the time Apple’s next spring event rolls around we’ll have been waiting two and a half years for Apple’s next micro-tablet.

At one point the iPad mini seemed linked with the iPad Air, its larger but feature-comparable mid-range sibling, but the mini’s longer update cadence since 2019 has shifted it down into a smaller equivalent of the standard iPad. (Among other things the Air update in 2022 brought an M1 desktop-class processor, whereas the 2021 iPad mini is stuck on the A15.) I’m not against the mini being marketed as a budget, entry-level option, but that’s a decision to be actively made, not something you allow to gradually happen through inaction.

Aside from more powerful processors, the iPad mini (which has no Smart Connector) still hasn’t got access to Apple’s range of Magic Keyboards, and perhaps a new petite edition could help to make the mini a viable option for work on the go. But right now, it isn’t going anywhere.

Dominik Tomaszewski / Foundry

AirPods Max

If the iPad mini is neglected, having seen no updates since September 2021, what do we say about the AirPods Max? They came out in December 2020 and were promptly ignored forever.

It doesn’t help that they were flawed from the start. The design of the headphones themselves is divisive (I don’t like it but my colleague Jason Cross did) while the Smart Case is unifyingly awful in both design and function. But the feature set, which seemed solid at launch, has grown steadily less impressive over the past three years to the extent that an update is now sorely needed. My colleague Jason will settle for nothing less than a total rethink.

For what it’s worth, the AirPods Max are reportedly due for an update in 2024, but since this is predicted to involve only some new colors and a USB-C port, it feels like too little, too late.

Foundry

Magic Mouse

We’re really going retro now. From products last refreshed in 2021 and 2020, we turn to one last updated in the far-off and altogether more innocent days of 2015 (aside from a new black color in 2022). But it’s still current, as far as Apple is concerned: shell out a small fortune for a new iMac today and you’ll find a Magic Mouse nestled in the packaging like a sinister time-traveler from the era of bad design.

As with the AirPods Max, I had reservations about the Magic Mouse’s overall design language from day one, but let’s leave those aside for now. (I’ve given up hoping that Apple will ever make the sort of ugly mouse that actually feels good in the hand.) Instead, let’s focus on the lack of Force Touch–a feature the Magic Trackpad has had since 2015–and the annoying charging setup that means you can’t use the thing at the same time.

The time was ripe in 2023 for the Magic Mouse to magically transform into a mouse that’s worth a damn, and I’m gutted that yet again it didn’t.

Apple

Pro Display XDR

If you’re asking $4,999 for a display, you’d better hope it’s good. The Pro Display XDR certainly was good, when it came out in 2019, but things have moved on, and it’s surprising Apple didn’t find time in 2023 to give it an update.

That’s not just us saying that. Multiple pundits predicted that Apple would launch a new Apple silicon-equipped version of the Pro Display XDR in 2023 alongside a new Mac Pro. The new Mac Pro part of the rumor came true, but there wasn’t a new display with it.

At this price point, it would be reasonable to expect state-of-the-art tech, not the best that 2019 could offer. ProMotion, mini-LED, and a bump from 32 to 36 inches and from 6K to 7K would all be on the cards for a new Apple display, and it’s about time for Apple’s pro customers to get them.

Foundry

Siri

Regular readers, my apologies: you’ve heard this all before. But I vowed to keep complaining about Siri until Apple did something about it, and I don’t break vows lightly.

Right now, as outlined frequently on this site, Siri is not fit for purpose, facing glaring issues with its accuracy and intrusiveness. Unfortunately, fixing the accuracy of a service requires an acknowledgment that it was inaccurate in the first place, which is why this doesn’t appeal as a high-priority project. But Apple could finesse its way past that roadblock by announcing “Siri 2.0” and focusing on the new smart features this provides–since that’s another area where Siri is behind its rivals–and then casually mentioning in passing that it’s “the most accurate voice assistant we’ve ever made.”

Considering how crucial Siri is to certain Apple products (namely the HomePod) and how deeply embedded it is in the entire Apple ecosystem, I find it odd that the company didn’t give it a major refresh in 2023. Perhaps it will get one in 2024, but I won’t be holding my breath. Or hula-ing my braids, as Siri 1.0 would put it.

Apple Inc

​Macworld Macworld

It’s been a mixed year for Apple fans, with much of the company’s focus and developmental resources trained on 2024’s Vision Pro launch. While the Mac got a raft of updated models and an entirely new chip generation in 2023, the iPhone and Apple Watch both saw extremely conservative launches and the iPad got no launches at all.

But let’s imagine a different timeline; one where Vision Pro doesn’t exist and Apple’s engineers and designers have unlimited time to work on anything they fancy. In other words, which Apple products didn’t get an update in 2023, but should have?

Dominik Tomaszewski / Foundry

iPad mini

Of the iPads that were neglected in 2023—which is to say, all of them—the iPad mini was the most neglected. Whereas the standard iPad and iPad Pro last got a refresh as “recently” as October 2022, and the iPad Air was updated in March 2022, the sixth-gen iPad mini arrived in fall 2021. It’s seriously overdue. By the time Apple’s next spring event rolls around we’ll have been waiting two and a half years for Apple’s next micro-tablet.

At one point the iPad mini seemed linked with the iPad Air, its larger but feature-comparable mid-range sibling, but the mini’s longer update cadence since 2019 has shifted it down into a smaller equivalent of the standard iPad. (Among other things the Air update in 2022 brought an M1 desktop-class processor, whereas the 2021 iPad mini is stuck on the A15.) I’m not against the mini being marketed as a budget, entry-level option, but that’s a decision to be actively made, not something you allow to gradually happen through inaction.

Aside from more powerful processors, the iPad mini (which has no Smart Connector) still hasn’t got access to Apple’s range of Magic Keyboards, and perhaps a new petite edition could help to make the mini a viable option for work on the go. But right now, it isn’t going anywhere.

Dominik Tomaszewski / Foundry

AirPods Max

If the iPad mini is neglected, having seen no updates since September 2021, what do we say about the AirPods Max? They came out in December 2020 and were promptly ignored forever.

It doesn’t help that they were flawed from the start. The design of the headphones themselves is divisive (I don’t like it but my colleague Jason Cross did) while the Smart Case is unifyingly awful in both design and function. But the feature set, which seemed solid at launch, has grown steadily less impressive over the past three years to the extent that an update is now sorely needed. My colleague Jason will settle for nothing less than a total rethink.

For what it’s worth, the AirPods Max are reportedly due for an update in 2024, but since this is predicted to involve only some new colors and a USB-C port, it feels like too little, too late.

Foundry

Magic Mouse

We’re really going retro now. From products last refreshed in 2021 and 2020, we turn to one last updated in the far-off and altogether more innocent days of 2015 (aside from a new black color in 2022). But it’s still current, as far as Apple is concerned: shell out a small fortune for a new iMac today and you’ll find a Magic Mouse nestled in the packaging like a sinister time-traveler from the era of bad design.

As with the AirPods Max, I had reservations about the Magic Mouse’s overall design language from day one, but let’s leave those aside for now. (I’ve given up hoping that Apple will ever make the sort of ugly mouse that actually feels good in the hand.) Instead, let’s focus on the lack of Force Touch–a feature the Magic Trackpad has had since 2015–and the annoying charging setup that means you can’t use the thing at the same time.

The time was ripe in 2023 for the Magic Mouse to magically transform into a mouse that’s worth a damn, and I’m gutted that yet again it didn’t.

Apple

Pro Display XDR

If you’re asking $4,999 for a display, you’d better hope it’s good. The Pro Display XDR certainly was good, when it came out in 2019, but things have moved on, and it’s surprising Apple didn’t find time in 2023 to give it an update.

That’s not just us saying that. Multiple pundits predicted that Apple would launch a new Apple silicon-equipped version of the Pro Display XDR in 2023 alongside a new Mac Pro. The new Mac Pro part of the rumor came true, but there wasn’t a new display with it.

At this price point, it would be reasonable to expect state-of-the-art tech, not the best that 2019 could offer. ProMotion, mini-LED, and a bump from 32 to 36 inches and from 6K to 7K would all be on the cards for a new Apple display, and it’s about time for Apple’s pro customers to get them.

Foundry

Siri

Regular readers, my apologies: you’ve heard this all before. But I vowed to keep complaining about Siri until Apple did something about it, and I don’t break vows lightly.

Right now, as outlined frequently on this site, Siri is not fit for purpose, facing glaring issues with its accuracy and intrusiveness. Unfortunately, fixing the accuracy of a service requires an acknowledgment that it was inaccurate in the first place, which is why this doesn’t appeal as a high-priority project. But Apple could finesse its way past that roadblock by announcing “Siri 2.0” and focusing on the new smart features this provides–since that’s another area where Siri is behind its rivals–and then casually mentioning in passing that it’s “the most accurate voice assistant we’ve ever made.”

Considering how crucial Siri is to certain Apple products (namely the HomePod) and how deeply embedded it is in the entire Apple ecosystem, I find it odd that the company didn’t give it a major refresh in 2023. Perhaps it will get one in 2024, but I won’t be holding my breath. Or hula-ing my braids, as Siri 1.0 would put it.

Apple Inc 

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