We're nearing the end of 2018 rumours about an update to the iPad Pro coming soon, and hope for new Macs and more before the year is out. The year got off to a flying start with the launch of the HomePod and then the new iPad with support for the Pencil, in July the new MacBook Pro arrived, and in September we got a new Apple Watch and new iPhones - the iPhone XS, XS Max, and the iPhone XR.. but what else does 2018 have up its sleeves for Apple fans?
Well, here at Macworld we've donned our prognostication hats and investigated every rumour and trend we could find to bring you our predictions for 2018. Read on to find out what could be in store, from new iPhones, iPads and Macs, enhancements to software, and some exciting news in terms of music and TV.
Read on to find out more...
We'll start by looking at what's in store for the iPad in 2018.
It's looking like Apple will be bringing iPhone X-style looks, along with Face ID to the iPad Pro in 2018.
This new iPad Pro could have smaller bezels allowing for a bigger screen - reports suggest we could see an 11in screen on the iPad in 2018 (up from 10.5in) while the 12.9in iPad Pro could shrink in terms of size and weight, rather than get an even larger screen.
We expect to see a A11X Bionic processor in the new iPad Pro models.
Speaking of iPads, what about the iPad mini? We hate to say it but we think that the iPad mini's days are numbered. The iPad mini was last updated in September 2015 it's clear that Apple isn't focused on its smaller tablets any more - the iPad mini isn't even the cheapest iPad now (starting at £399/$399, compared to the iPad at £319/$329). It looks like the iPhones with bigger screens are becoming a popular choice for those looking for a larger screen and they are opting for them over the mini, to the extent that Apple now states that the most popular tablet size is 9.7in.
But don't give up all hope. As with the iPhone SE (which we'll discuss next), there are still rumours that the iPad mini could still be upgraded, perhaps with a new thinner, tougher aluminium chassis, and the inclusion of a Smart Connector to match that of the other iPad Pro devices.
Read more: iPad mini 5 rumours
When? Probably never...
We've already seen the launch of the iPhone XS, XS Max and iPhone XR (read more about the new iPhones here: iPhone Xs & Max and iPhone XR) but there is one other iPhone that people are hoping will get a lookin...
iPhone SE 2
Not everyone wants a humongous phone and there are still calls for Apple to upgrade the 4in iPhone SE model to the iPhone SE2, replacing the existing (and rather popular) SE that was introduced in March 2016.
Everytime we think that its days are numbered a new rumour surfaces about the new iPhone SE, so maybe it has a future. If 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.
There are even reports that it could get an iPhone X-style look, but we're not sure Apple is ready to bring Face ID to its entry level iPhone just yet.
Read more here: iPhone SE 2 preview
When? Spring 2019, maybe...
These days Apple's marketshare of the computer world is growing while the rest of the industry languishes (although in recent quarters we've seen a year-on-year decline in Mac sales - the lack of new Macs hasn't helpped matters particularly). Here we will look at what Apple could have up its sleeve in terms of the Mac.
The MacBook Air has had little attention over the past few years. In fact we have been fully expecting Apple to discontinue the MacBook Air. However, we are now hearing rumours that a new, even cheaper, model could be on the way soon.
The most popular theory seems to be that this will be an update to the MacBook Air. Although, it could be a remodelling of the MacBook (which we'll discuss next).
Read more in our new MacBook Air rumours article.
As we mentioned above, there might be a new MacBook coming from Apple - and it may have a lower price and a bigger, 13in screen.
Alternatively, the new MacBook might just see the latest Intel Coffee Lake processors and an improved keyboard (there are currently lawsuits being filed against Apple relating to the keyboard on the MacBook and MacBook Pro which are claimed to be faulty, read about the keyboard problems on the MacBook here). Apple has already updated the keyboard in the MacBook Pro so it looks likely that the MacBook will gain a similar update soon.
Read about the rumoured update to the MacBook here.
Like the MacBook Air, the Mac mini has had little attention over the past few years. 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.
To give us some hope respected analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has said that he thinks that the Mac mini will be updated.
Read more in our new Mac mini rumours article.
2018 is actually a big year for the iMac - it's now 20 years since the first iMac launched! Will Apple celebrate this anniversary with a new design? Probably not, although we have seen the suggestion that by removing hard drive options and making a few other tweeks to the internals the iMac could lose it's 'chin'.
Despite the big birthday, we're not expecting a big change in terms of the iMac in 2018, but we are excited about the prospect of more cores. Thanks to the new Coffee Lake processors from Intel (which we've already seen in the MacBook Pro), we could see the top of the range iMac ship with 6-cores or maybe even more!
Read more in our iMac 2018 rumours article.
As for the iMac Pro,which arrived in December 2017, we might see an update towards the end of 2018, but Apple might hold fire on that model while it prepares to launch the next Mac we will discuss...
Read more about the new iMac Pro here.
When? Not until 2019
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.
Then in April 2018 Apple revealed even more about its radical redesign of its Mac Pro line. However, the company confirmed that we won't be seeing the new Mac Pro until 2019.
Read more in our new Mac Pro rumours article.
When? We think WWDC 2019 is most likely for an unveiling, but perhaps Apple will hold a special event in April 2019
iOS 12 is on phones now... The next update to Apple's mobile OS, will be iOS 13 and we won't see that until WWDC next June...
Following its usual pattern, Apple is likely to show off its plans for the next version of the Mac operating system at WWDC in June 2019. The big change this time round will be that iPad and iPhone apps should be easier to port to Mac, which could mean lots of new Mac apps - and vice versa.
TV and Music
How about a redesign of iTunes? As one of Apple's most bloated pieces of software the iTunes interface on the Mac could certainly use a few tweaks or a complete overhaul.
And the TV app - that really needs to bring back some of the functionality of the older Video app (namely being able to auto play the next episode!)
One big change coming to the Apple TV in 2019 coud be the new subscription movie and TV series service that evidence suggests Apple is planning on introducing. The company is already making its own shows so something is definately in the works, read about Apple's plans for a TV and film subscription service here.
When? Spring 2019
Other Apple Products
Apple makes more than iPhones, iPads and Macs. The company has already introduced the HomePod in 2018, what else is in store?
Apple's launched the HomePod smart speaker at the beginning of 2018 - 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? Spring 2019
As part of the iPhone 8/8 Plus/X announcement in September 2017, Apple revealed that it was 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.
AirPower will be able to 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.
Only problem is that Apple didn't have a product to sell by September 2018, suggesting it has encountered a lot of issues with the design.
Read more: AirPower release date rumours
When? October ... otherwise, we're embarrased on Apple's behalf!
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.
Mergers & acquisitions
What Apple has done already in 2018 is buy Shazam - although that deal wasn't cleared by the regulators until the beginning of September 2018.
However, 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, though. The Financial Times reported 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 when its rumoured TV-streaming service finally comes to pass.
With Time Warner apparently out of the picture, some analysts started to suggest that the next target could be Netflix, but we wouldn't bet your live savings on that 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 but somethign is definately happening in the motoring field. 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.
Industry chatter suggests 2020 is a more likely date for a launch. If this is correct, it might not be worth holding back on upgrading to your existing run-around until then.
We don't think you'll see an Apple car in 2018, then, but you can expect the rumours to continue.
Apple's AR glasses are another rumour that won't go away, but they probably won't be coming out any time soon either. Read about the Apple AR headset here. Yes, it certainly sounds like Apple's working on some sort of virtual reality/augmented reality device, but we probably won't be seeing that one until 2021.