Last weekend, a reliable Apple leaker, L0vetodream, said the iPhone maker plans on releasing a "Christmas Surprise" before the end of the year. This being 2020, it would startle no one if this gift turned out to be a five-year-old fruit cake emblazoned with the Apple logo that ships in AirPower boxes. And yet, I'm (somewhat) confident Apple's December plans will rise higher than some moldy baked goods.
For a December surprise, the most obvious candidate is the long-rumored AirPods Studio over-ear headphones. For months, various sources have said these headphones were likely to launch before the end of 2020. And yet, they didn't show up at any of Apple's recent special events this fall, which suggests Apple might have gotten cold feet by releasing $600 headphones during a once-in-a-century pandemic.
And yet, a December announcement still sounds about right, with or without COVID.
AirPods Studio, whenever they're released, could provide tangible proof that Apple plans on ditching the Beats Electronics name, which has also been long-rumored. Next month, announcing AirPod Studio would serve as a nice stepping stone for Apple as we get ready to say hello to 2021, a better year for sure. After all, we're likely to see other new audio products in the coming months, including next-generation AirPods and AirPods Pro.
Another candidate could be AirTags. Also rumored in recent months, the tiny would-be tracking devices had been expected to take on Tile and similar products and work with the existing Find My app on mobile and macOS. Though useful, any AirTags product doesn't sound like something that would warrant a separate year-ending announcement or "Christmas Surprise" moniker.
Apple could also use a December announcement to wow us with a special-edition iPad or iPhone model. If Apple's goal is to sell a few more mobile devices as holiday gifts, this type of plan makes sense. And yet, I can't see how there would be enough time to announce, accept preorders, and ship these items before Christmas. Besides, because of COVID, iPhone shipments were already delayed beyond the typical September timeframe, so the newness factor for the current options is still there.
Finally, consider how L0vetodream's tweet also noted the would-be surprise was "good for winter." In previous years, Cupertino had adjusted its Apple Watch band lineup to reflect the coldest months of the year. Doing so again would line up very nicely with the leaker's tweet. Like AirTags, however, new bands sound more useful than exciting and would only appeal to a small Apple audience segment.
So what's the prediction? Apple's most likely "Christmas Surprise" is the AirPods Studio. Though likely to be even more expensive than the already pricey Beats headphones, the headphones would appeal to a large part of the Apple family. Plus, assuming it offers a fresh new design, AirPods Studio would generate the type of buzz that the company craves.
We'll probably hear about Apple's plans soon enough, assuming there are plans. Anytime after Tuesday, December 1 sounds about right. If something new doesn't get announced by December 10, assume nothing is happening.
What big Apple surprise do you want to see in the final month of the year? Let us know in the comments below.