CES 2018 has arrived, and 9to5Mac is on the ground all week in Las Vegas to bring you coverage of the newest gear and accessories being announced on the show floor.
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CES can be overwhelming, so we’ve rounded up what we’re expecting to see. While Apple doesn’t officially have a presence at CES, almost all of the major iPhone and Mac accessory companies debut new products in Las Vegas, so there will certainly be much to look forward to – and a few surprises, too.
One of the major themes at this year’s show is smart homes- and for those in the Apple ecosystem, that means HomeKit. Smart accessories with built-in HomeKit support are set to dominate the booths and announcements all throughout the week. We’ve already seen new products begin to trickle out before the official start of the show, and many more will be displayed in coming days. We’ll be highlighting some of our favorites.
With the release of the iPhone 8, 8 Plus, and X last fall, Apple unlocked a whole new market for accessory makers: Qi-based wireless charging. Belkin has already announced their newest chargers for 2018, and we expect that other accessory makers will follow suit. Alongside traditional charging pads and mats, expect to see wireless charging accessories in all shapes and sizes, made for a variety of different use cases.
While Apple has yet to ship their first entry into the smart speaker market, the HomePod, competitors are cranking out new speakers left and right. Expect to see a buffet of speaker options at this year’s CES, from large, powerful home theater speakers to compact, cheap virtual assistants like the Google Home Mini. This past week, it was predicted that smart speakers will be the “fastest-growing” tech of 2018.
As the market becomes more and more saturated, Apple faces an increasingly difficult challenge to make the HomePod stand out from the competition. On a more positive note, CES could also be a big opportunity for the expansion of speakers offering support for AirPlay 2. The updated wireless streaming specification improves buffering performance, and enables multi-room audio playback on iOS.
Alongside the HomePod, Beats and Sonos products have already promised AirPlay 2 support in the future. Several other companies partnering with Apple on AirPlay 2 products have also been announced, including Naim, Bose, Devialet, Dynaudio, Polk, Denon, McIntosh, Marantz, Bowers & Wilkins, Libratone, Definitive Technology, Bang & Olufse,n and BlueSound.
VR and AR
While Tim Cook has said he believes in the future of augmented reality – not virtual reality, that hasn’t stopped other companies from continuing to explore VR. A slew of new VR headsets will be show at CES, many of them offering 4K-resolution displays. While iPhone owners might not benefit directly from virtual reality right now, the interest in the expanding market will help drive support for Apple’s ARKit, debuting last fall in iOS 11.
With each generation of iPhone, Apple vastly improves the device’s imaging capabilities, in turns driving new accessories pushing the cameras even further. DJI has kicked off this year’s CES by unveiling the Osmo Mobile 2, an improved version of the company’s popular iPhone stabilizing rig. Expect to see more accessories like the Osmo on the show floor, alongside other pro video, audio, and photography gear.
While iPhone accessories command the majority of the attention at CES, Mac accessories typically see healthy updates as well. Last year at CES we saw new several new Mac peripherals, including batteries, keyboards, and adapters. Expect to see more of the same themes this year, alongside new external displays. As 4K enters the mainstream, prices continue to fall and quality continues to improve. Since Apple no longer sells a dedicated external display of their own for Macs, this is an appealing market for other manufacturers to capture.
What are you most excited to see at CES? Let us know in the comments what you’re anticipating – and if you’re attending the show yourself, make sure to say hi if you spot any of the 9to5 staff on the show floor. Stay tuned for more coverage all week long, and keep up-to-date with everything announced so far in our CES 2018 Guide.