• The coronavirus has made it more challenging for Apple to work on new products.
  • Apple this year plans to release a new HomePod and more budget-friendly iPads.
  • Other products on track for a 2020 release include a new MacBook Pro, a new Apple Watch, and a new Apple TV.
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Though the vast majority of Apple employees are now working from home due to stay-at-home directives in California, the company is still working diligently on new products. In short, Apple’s ability to innovate and work on new products may be somewhat stunted, but it hasn’t been completely stifled. According to a report from Bloomberg, some of Apple’s hardware engineers have received special permission to work at Apple’s spaceship campus in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.

Specifically, Apple is said to be working on a slew of new devices, including next-gen versions of the HomePod and Apple TV. Other products Apple may release sometime this year include new iterations of the Apple Watch and iMac, along with a new MacBook Pro and budget-friendly iPads.

What’s particularly interesting is that the coronavirus lockdown has prompted Apple to slightly ease some of its notoriously stringent restrictions surrounding product development:

In early March, in a contrast to its normal practices, Apple started allowing engineers to take home early versions of future devices to continue work during the lockdown period. Previously, the company allowed select employees to take home nearly complete devices such as iPhones for real world testing.

As part of the work-from-home order, Apple has clamped down on which employees are allowed to take home future versions of software, including the next release of iOS, the platform that runs the iPhone and iPad. Like with hardware, employees working on unreleased software, such as the upcoming iOS 14, require approval from the highest levels of the organization, the people said.

No matter the type of adjustments Apple makes, there’s no getting around the fact that product development will be far less efficient with thousands of employees working remotely and unable to collaborate in person. Looking ahead, it will be interesting to see if this impacts the release dates of any of the aforementioned products.

While some of the details surrounding Apple’s 2020 product lineup remain unclear, we have heard rumors about a few devices. The next-gen Apple Watch, for example, will reportedly feature improved battery life along with the ability to measure a user’s blood-oxygen levels. Beyond that, the 2021 Apple Watch may incorporate Touch ID for greater security.

The next iteration of the Apple TV, meanwhile, will reportedly ship later this year with more storage and an upgraded processor (either an A11 or an A12). On a related note, an upcoming version of tvOS will include a Kids Mode that will enable parents to restrict access to specific programs and applications.

A new HomePod is certainly intriguing given that the device is almost two years old at this point. Apple slashed the price from $349 to $299 last April and we’ve heard rumors that an even cheaper model — in the $150 range — might be in the works.

Of course, the million-dollar question as it pertains to Apple’s 2020 product lineup centers on the iPhone 12. While the iPhone 12 release was likely set for September of 2020, there’s a chance it may be pushed back to November if not further. Even in a scenario where production goals can be met, there’s a very real possibility that interest in the iPhone 12 will be incredibly low due to the economic fallout from the coronavirus.

A life long Mac user and Apple enthusiast, Yoni Heisler has been writing about Apple and the tech industry at large for over 6 years. His writing has appeared in Edible Apple, Network World, MacLife, Macworld UK, and most recently, TUAW. When not writing about and analyzing the latest happenings with Apple, Yoni enjoys catching Improv shows in Chicago, playing soccer, and cultivating new TV show addictions, the most recent examples being The Walking Dead and Broad City.