2017 was a busy year for Apple, with the launch of the 10th-anniversary iPhone X and new iPhone 8, new iPads and a slew of new Macs.
But 2018 got off to a flying start with the launch of the HomePod and then the new iPad with support for the Pencil - what else does this year 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 2018.
Let's start with Apple's biggest money-maker: its smartphones.
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 2017.
We do still expect a new iPhone SE model at some point in the future. 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.
Read more here: iPhone SE 2 preview
When? We think spring 2018
To be honest we've got no idea what the follow-up to the iPhone X is going to be called, but this guess is as good as any. (Many feel that Apple is about to finally give up on version numbers for its phones, and just call the next model the iPhone.)
Theories about the iPhones coming in autumn 2018 are already many and various, but perhaps the most popular is the idea that Apple will take the iPhone X and its relatively small chassis, and supersize it - producing what could perhaps be called an iPhone X Plus. We're not convinced this would be wise (the X already has the biggest screen Apple has ever put on a phone), but the market usually gets what the market wants.
We'd also love it if Touch ID could make a comeback in addition to Face ID. This would be possible if Apple can incorporate a fingerprint scanner under the glass, something which was too technologically challenging in 2017 but may be feasible now.
After the tremors of 2017, however, Apple may well consolidate in 2018, offering incremental upgrades and perhaps spreading existing features to more models - giving the 4.7in model a twin-lens camera, say.
Read more here: iPhone 2018 rumours
When? Sept 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 spring 2018 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. We think it's unlilkely though, given the introduction of the new iPad in March 2018. More likely the iPad mini will soon be removed from sale...
Read more: iPad mini 5 new feature rumours
When? Probably never...
iOS 11 was released to the public on 19 September 2017. The next update to Apple's mobile OS, iOS 12, will be unveiled at WWDC in June 2018, before a public rollout in September.
Apple says it's focussing on stability in this update, which sounds a bit boring (although necessary given the issues with iOS 11 noted here).
You can read more here: iOS 12 rumours.
When? September 2018
Like iOS 12 - and Apple's other major OS updates - watchOS 5 will first be unveiled in the summer of 2018, before a public launch in autumn. Unlike the others, however, watchOS 5 probably won't be made available in the form of a public beta.
We suspect that this may be the first watchOS update that won't be certified to run on every Apple Watch model, after seeing our first-gen Apple Watch struggle with the watchOS 4 update in 2017.
Read more here: watchOS 5 release date & new features rumours
When? Sept 2018
macOS High Sierra launched on 25 September, but we're already thinking about the follow-up: the as-yet unnamed macOS 10.14.
Following its usual pattern, Apple will reveal and demo macOS 10.14 at WWDC in June 2018, before a series of beta versions and eventual public rollout in the autumn.
We're hearing that there won't be as many major changes to MacOS in 2018 - apart from one big one - apparently Apple is going to make it possible for apps made for the iPhone and iPad to run on the Mac.
Read more here: MacOS 10.14 release date & features
When? Sept 2018
The last and least heralded of Apple's OSes, tvOS is nevertheless a Pretty Big Deal for everyone with a fourth-gen or 4K Apple TV. tvOS 12 will be unveiled in summer and launched in autumn.
One big change coming to the Apple TV in 2018 coud be the new subscription movie and TV series service that Apple is said to be planning on introducing. The company is already making it's own shows so something is definately in the works, read about Apple's plans for a TV and film subscription service here.
Read more here: tvOS 12 release date & new features rumours
When? Sept 2018
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.
There wasn't 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.
Apple is working on what sounds like a radical redesign of its Mac Pro line. Until this appears (this year, hopefully, although 2019 isn't beyond the realms of possibility), the pricing/configurations on the current Pro range was tweaked so you get more for your money, but it's still not a particularly appealing deal.
Read more in our new Mac Pro rumours article.
When? We think WWDC 2018 is most likely for an unveiling, but some pundits believe it could be late 2018 or even early 2019 before we see the Mac in the flesh
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 2018 will see a resurrection of its fortunes, but all here at Macworld are rooting for the little guy - and Apple has even said that the Mac mini is still important, so maybe there is a small chance it won't be forgotton in 2018.
Read more in our new Mac mini rumours article.
When? Some time in 2018, we hope
Like the Mac mini, the MacBook Air has had little attention over the past few years. We were sure it's days were numbered but we are now hearing rumours that a new, even cheaper, model could be on the way soon.
Read more in our new MacBook Air rumours article.
When? Some time in 2018, we hope
Apple's now launched the HomePod smart speaker - you can read all about the HomePod here. But there could be more *Pods on the way.
The company is said to be working on over-the-ear headphones to accompany its AirPods and the EarPods - the other earphones Apple makes. Apple's drive into wearable technology could also eventually mean we can buy Apple Glasses or a VR headset, but we don't expect to see them in 2018.
Read all the news about the StudioPods here.
When? Autumn 2018, we hear
As part of the iPhone 8/8 Plus/X announcement, Apple revealed that it's going to make its own wireless charging pad to go with the new phones (which have glass backs, and are thus able to support wireless charging). The pad is called AirPower.
Two things stand out. It can charge multiple devices (an iPhone, an Apple Watch, a pair of AirPods and a new wireless charging AirPods case all at once). And it can apparently manage the charging of these multiple devices intelligently, analysing their charge levels and maximum capacity and then telling them each to 'take' the most efficient proportion of its power.
Fancy features mean a fancy price, most likely, but this is probably going to become the best wireless charger on the market - for owners of recent iPhones, at any rate.
Read more: AirPower release date rumours
When? Spring 2018
Apple Pay Cash
At WWDC 2017 Apple unveiled a new, person-to-person application of Apple Pay that works through Messages. Apple Pay Cash eventually rolled out in the US as part of the iOS 11.2 update in Dec 2017, but we're still waiting for the worldwide (and especially UK) launches.
We have already seen Apple Pay Cash appear on some of our iPhones so we are hopefully that a UK launch will happen soon.
When? The UK launch is expected by WWDC 2018 at the latest
Mergers & acquisitions
From time to time these suggestion-cum-predictions come true, as with Apple's acquisition 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 & acquisition 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 it's since emerged that Apple has scaled back its ambitions on this front; it's now believed to be working on an automative 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 2018, but industry chatter suggests 2020 is a more likely date. If this is correct, it might not be worth holding back on an interim upgrade to your existing run-around next year.
We don't think you'll see an Apple car in 2018, then, but you can expect the rumours to continue.