2017 has already been a busy one for Apple, with the launch of the 10th anniversary iPhone X and new iPhone 8, new iPads, a slew of new Macs and the announcement of an all-new product called the HomePod.
But what else does 2017 have up its sleeves for Apple fans? Well, here at Macworld we've donned our prognostication hats, investigated every rumour and trend we could find, all to bring you our predictions for 2017. It has already been a big year, but it sure isn't over yet.
What has Apple announced so far in 2017?
Let's start with a really quick overview of what's happened so far this year. It's been busy, that's for sure.
Then, in March of 2017, Apple hosted an event to show off a few new products that it had been keeping up its sleeve:
- New Apple Watch bands
- A new 9.7in tablet simply called iPad
- A (PRODUCT) Red Special Edition iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus
- A new Clips app
In June, at WWDC 2017, Apple had several major announcements to share with us.
- iMac Pro
- 10.5in iPad Pro
- An update to the 12.9in iPad Pro
- watchOS 4
- Updated iMacs
- Updated MacBooks
- A spec boost for the MacBook Air
- Updated MacBook Pro models
Apple also teased the launch of a new Mac Pro, which is expected in 2018. The updated Macs and iPads are available now, but we talk more about the all new iMac Pro and HomePod here, as well as the upcoming Mac Pro model.
Then on 12 September, in another special event we saw updates to the iPhone, Apple Watch and Apple TV, as well as final versions of iOS 11 and High Sierra. The star of the show, though, was undoubtedly the 10th anniversary iPhone X, with its brand-new virtually full-screen OLED design.
After all that, there's still even more to come. Read on for the lowdown on what we're expecting from Apple for the rest of the year.
iPhone SE 2
Many had anticipated that Apple would upgrade the iPhone SE model to the iPhone SE2 or SEs in March 2017, replacing the existing (and rather popular) SE that was introduced in March 2016. However the iPhone SE was only treated to a bump in storage to 32- and 128GB on 21 March and another update seems unlikely for now.
We do still expect a new iPhone SE model at some point in the future, maybe later this year or in 2018 (KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has forecast that the iPhone SE 2 won't make an appearance in 2017 at all, on the principle that Apple doesn't want to cannibalise sales of the higher-margin iPhone).
When the new model launches it is likely to keep the existing, classic design, but feature upgraded internals such as the A10 chip found in the iPhone 7 and a more powerful camera.
When? We think spring 2018
The iPad mini received a minor update in March 2017, gaining more capacity for the same price (£419 for the 128GB Wi-Fi model and £549 for the 128GB Wi-Fi + Cellular). However, this was not the iPad mini 5 anticipated, and given that the iPad mini 4 was last updated in September 2015, it's clear that Apple isn't too focused on its smaller tablets and Apple does state that the most popular tablet size is 9.7in.
Perhaps October will see the introduction of an iPad Mini Pro with upgraded components, a new thinner, tougher aluminium chassis, and the inclusion of a Smart Connector to match that of the other iPad Pro devices.
Read more about the iPad mini 5: iPad mini 5 new feature rumours
When? We think 2018
iOS 11 has already been unveiled by Apple, and will be released to the public on 19 September 2017. (See: How to get iOS 11 now)
iOS 11 has plenty of new features that we're excited about. The App Store has been redesigned, there are new Photos and Camera features, the Control Centre has had a makeover and much more. It's particularly great for iPad users, as it has several features that are exclusive to the tablet. These include a new Files app, new multitasking functions, and improved Apple Pencil support.
When? We think 19 September 2017
Unveiled at WWDC 2017 after months of rumours, Apple's Siri speaker, which is actually called the HomePod, is coming in December.
Designed in response to the likes of Google Home and Amazon Echo, HomePod is a smart speaker that also sounds brilliant. Apple focused more on sound quality than its smart features in the unveiling of the HomePod, which is an interesting take on things but perhaps we'll discover more about Siri's role in the new device as we approach its release date.
Brand new to the Mac line-up is the iMac Pro, which Apple unveiled at WWDC 2017 but won't become available to buy until December.
The stunning new device is the most powerful Mac ever made, and it's still a sleek all-in-one like the iMacs we know. This time, though Apple has opted for the Space Grey colouring, complete with a new Space Grey keyboard, mouse and trackpad.
The specs on the iMac Pro are incredible, particularly if you opt for a built-to-order model. However, with a starting price of £4,449 we think this Mac will appeal to a very select market. Those working with 3D and VR, for example, more more than that this iMac offers a machine that is going to be powerful enough for whatever is next.
You can find out more about what to expect from the iMac Pro here.
The Mac Pro is long overdue a refresh, as it hasn't been updated since the launch of the 'trashcan' Pro model in 2013. The once futuristic device now looks a little long in the tooth, having been bypassed by generations of Intel chips that never made it into the chassis.
We now know that there won't be a new Mac Pro in 2017, but a new machine is on the horizon.
In April 2017 Apple broke its silence and discussed the Pro's future with a small group of journalists, first apologising for the lack of updates and then acknowledging that the trashcan design didn't work out the way it had hoped. The triangular structure that hides inside the cylinder was designed with the thermal requirements of twin-GPU setups in mind, but the industry went in a different direction; most pro users prefer to use a single more powerful GPU, something that the Mac Pro cannot cope with. And so the machine ended up being very difficult to upgrade.
The good news is that Apple is working on what sounds like a radical redesign of its Mac Pro line. The bad news is that this definitely won't appear this year. In the meantime, the pricing/configurations on the current Pro range have been tweaked so you get more for your money, but it's still not a particularly appealing deal.
When? We think WWDC 2018 is most likely, but some pundits believe it could be late 2018 or even early 2019
Ah Mac Mini, where did it all go wrong? After being hobbled in 2014 by what can barely be considered an upgrade, Apple has left the Mini to fall fallow. Now we don't know whether 2017 will see a resurrection of its fortunes, but all here at Macworld are rooting for the little guy.
Read more in our new Mac mini rumours article.
When? We think 2018
macOS High Sierra
At WWDC 2017, Apple unveiled the new macOS alongside iOS 11. High Sierra will be available to all users on 25 September.
Improvements are mostly under the hood but will all contribute to making using your Mac a smoother and faster experience. For details, visit our macOS High Sierra preview.
Other Apple rumours for 2017
'Mystery wireless device'
Recent photos reveal a mystery wireless device submitted to the FCC by Apple bearing the model number A1844. The mystery device, of course, caused huge stirs in the Apple community. The application claimed that it was a low-powered device with both Bluetooth and NFC wireless functionality. This led some to believe that it was either going to be a new, smaller Apple TV or possibly even an accessory for Apple Pay, allowing small businesses to accept wireless/Apple Pay payments.
However, while we'd all hoped it'd be a cool new Apple device, further investigation seems to suggest that it's nothing more than a badge reader that attaches to a door assembly, most likely for use in Apple's Apple Park HQ opening in April 2017. There's a snap of the wireless device above, but those that want more information can check out the full FCC filing here.
Mergers & acquisitions
From time to time these suggestion-cum-predictions come true, as with Apple's acqusition of Beats in 2014, but it hardly needs stating that the company isn't in a hurry to divest itself of that cash cushion. Any merger & acqusition activity is likely to be comparatively conservative: rather than going for the big names that crop up in prediction articles like this one, Apple is far more likely to pick up smallish but promising firms on the way up and take their products in house - just as it did with Siri.
We do know of a few big deals that Apple has considered recently, though. The Financial Times reports that in May 2016 Apple sat down with Time Warner, one of the biggest entertainment companies in the world, and spoke seriously about an acquisition deal. The deal never got beyond the exploratory phase, but this does strongly suggest that Apple is in the market for an acquisition that will give it a foothold in video content - something that would prove valuable in the event that its rumoured TV-streaming service comes to pass.
With Time Warner apparently out of the picture, many analysts believe that the next target could be Netflix, but we're still in the realm of the mega-deal, so don't bet your live savings on the deal happening.
But don't expect…
The Apple Car, was the hot rumour of 2016, but now it seems that Apple has scaled back it's ambitions and now thought to see working on a software solution rather than the hardware. The company is said to have had up to 1,000 developers working on the so-called Project Titan, and to have set up various different front companies, including Faraday Futures and Sixty Eight Research. We'd love to see it on the roads in 2017, but industry chatter suggests 2020 is a more likely date. If they're right, it might not be worth holding back on an interim upgrade to your existing run-around next year. And if you were hoping for an actual television set from Apple it's time to give up on that idea too.
We won't see an Apple car this year, but you can expect the rumours to continue.