A new year has arrived, and with it comes CES 2019 in Las Vegas. 9to5Mac will be on location checking out all of the latest products and accessories for your Apple gear. What can we expect to see at CES this year?
In 2018, CES was filled with smart home accessories and connected speakers, but few companies had products to show that felt truly new or outstanding. It felt as if the entire industry was holding its breath, waiting for Apple’s next move before investing too deeply in unproven technologies.
Over the past year, Apple has stayed quiet in several markets and moved forward in others. Accessory makers have exhaled and filled in the gaps where Apple’s changing strategies have left a void.
A renewed focus on pro hardware has opened up new possibilities for innovative peripherals. While CES is famous for its crazy concepts and vaporware products, there is opportunity this year for a few gems to rise from the noise.
USB-C and iPad Accessories
While Macs have had USB-C ports for years, this is the first CES since the iPad Pro gained a USB-C port and dropped the Lightning connector. Expect to see a new wave of interest over powerful USB-C accessories that extend the capabilities of iPads.
Hubs, chargers, keyboards, monitors, and audio interfaces are just a few of the possibilities for USB-C accessories. Since the iPad market is much more of an open frontier than the Mac, accessories will likely iterate faster than they have on the desktop. The best part is that there’s potential for many of these devices to work with Macs as well. It’s a win-win.
Pro Mac Accessories
One year ago, the iMac Pro was brand new and a refreshed Mac mini was nowhere in sight. Heading into 2019, the professional Mac market has significantly matured. External GPUs have become a popular add-on for those invested in video and gaming. Hopefully, accessory makers will take advantage of this pro renaissance to create valuable macOS peripherals. Just this week, hardware maker OWC announced its acquisition of accessory company Akitio.
Connected home devices will again dominate CES, but HomeKit support is still far from a guarantee. Accessory makers haven’t proven to be reliable with ship dates and promises, and some choose not to support HomeKit at all. Broadly, the smart home category is still a confusing network of systems and standards to most consumers, and it will take a unification of connectivity before everyone is ready to embrace the useful new accessories that HomeKit enables.
AirPods and AirPower Competition
Last year at CES, Apple had yet to ship the HomePod, and accessory makers flooded the show floor with competing smart speakers and knockoffs. One year later, Apple has yet to ship the promised AirPower charging mat and AirPods wireless charging case. The early heads-up has given competitors plenty of time to complete their own offerings that attempt to replicate the missing functionality.
Wireless charging mats and Bluetooth Qi headsets will fill booths in every form imaginable. Even before the official start of CES we’ve seen earbud charging solutions from Bang & Olufsen and SliQ. Companies like Belkin have already debuted combination iPhone and Apple Watch charging docks.
Health and Fitness
Since launching in 2015, the Apple Watch has spurred a growing market of connected health and fitness products. With the introduction of the Apple Watch Series 4 last fall and ECG app in December, Apple reaffirmed its dedication to creating a comprehensive wellness platform around the watch.
Apple retail stores, too, feature a section dedicated to health and fitness gear like the Withings Body Cardio Scale and Tangram Factory Smart Jump Rope. Expect to see more products in this category that integrate with the iOS Health app and watchOS.
What are your expectations for CES 2019? Which products would you like us to explore in more depth? Let us know in the comments. If you’ll be attending the show, make sure to say hi if you spot anyone from 9to5 on the show floor.
Stay tuned for more coverage all throughout the week, and follow our CES 2019 guide for the latest.