The 2015 edition of the International CES will be kicking off in Las Vegas next week, and iLounge will be there for all the action. As always, our section at the show — to be known this year as the iProducts Marketplace — will feature the debut of more new Apple accessories than you’ll see anywhere else. On top of covering our own massive area at the show, we’ll be checking out plenty of events and other areas at CES to find the most exciting upcoming products for 2015.
As with every year, we’ll see plenty of new iPhone cases and Bluetooth speakers at CES 2015. But there are five Apple-related topics of special interest to us that we’ll be watching closely at this year’s show.
1. It’s All Connected: Apple’s HomeKit is ready for the spotlight
Apple started reviewing plans for HomeKit products in November, and the timing is right for third-party companies to reveal their offerings at CES. HomeKit, which is a common network protocol that allows for home automation control from an iOS device, could become the star of CES, especially if there are a few knockout ideas from larger companies. There’s also the possibility that a large number of similar HomeKit products — and other non-HomeKit home automation products — could make it tough for most consumers to keep everything straight. Of course, we’ll be there to sort through it all.
2. Extra Power: battery cases for the new iPhones and other battery options
Battery cases have just started showing up for Apple’s newest iPhones — we’ve reviewed a few so far — and we’re expecting the floodgates to open at the show. It’ll be interesting to see how companies deal with the larger sizes, and larger batteries, of the new iPhones: will they just slap a larger battery case on the devices, or will there be other, more innovative options? We’re also wondering just how many battery cases will be made available for the iPhone 6 Plus — the phone’s larger battery may not necessitate daily extra power like Apple’s other phones often do, though there will certainly be a market for such cases. Outside of cases, we saw a few intriguing standalone battery options at last year’s CES — perhaps there will be more innovation on that end, as well.
3. iPad Air 2: cases and accessories
Companies have been slow to release cases for Apple’s newest, thinnest iPad, so we expect to see more than a few new options at this year’s CES. Overall, we’ve mostly been disappointed with the cases we’ve seen so far for iPad Air 2 — we hope companies will be unveiling thinner options that really accentuate the device’s slim design. We’re also curious to see if companies will be taking advantage of the iPad Air 2’s thin size in any other way, through possible accessories.
4. The Apple Watch Effect: what of wearables?
Last year, wearables were everywhere at CES. It seemed like there was another smartwatch or fitness tracker around every corner. Some were intriguing, but most were soon forgotten. This time around, with the upcoming debut of the Apple Watch not far away, we’re wondering if companies will be pulling back and waiting to see how Apple’s new device does … or if these companies will still go full speed ahead with their own wearable options. If so, it’ll take an impressive product to make an impact with the Apple Watch looming.
5. Playtime: more accessible iOS game controllers and toys
In recent months, Mad Catz and SteelSeries have brought more reasonably-priced MFi controllers to iOS gaming. For the longest time, prices were too high to take the controllers seriously, but now we’ll see if other companies will also offer well-built controllers at better prices — Mad Catz has hit the $50-$60 range, and we think that’s where the pricing should start going forward. We’ve also seen a number of fun iOS-powered toys priced under $100 during the past year, and that’s a trend we hope to see continue and expand, especially considering the recent adoption of Bluetooth 4.2.