We all love an Apple event! There are few times every year when Apple execs get up on stage and demonstrate the new products the company is releasing - and if we are exceptionally lucky, we might get a first look at a new product that is only in its early stages. In the past the company has made big announcements at events in the spring, during its Worldwide Developers Conference in June, and at an event in September. Apple has also been known to hold an event in October.
Right now the next big date in the Apple calendar is an education-focused event on 27 March 2018, followed a few months later by the WWDC keynote on 4 June 2018.
In this article we will look into what we can expect from Apple's various special events in 2018, with their pre-launch speculation, mysterious invitations, warm-up music, and a bit of the old Tim Cook razzle-dazzle. We'll discuss when they might take place and what Apple might have up its sleeve for those unveilings.
Occasionally Apple will drop a product on an unsuspecting public like a thunderbolt from a clear sky. But mostly it follows a recognisable pattern. As a result the grizzled Apple pundits here at Macworld can draw on their experience covering this secretive company to give you a strong - albeit not infallible - guide to when the next Apple event will be held.
The company's yearly calendar has some regular signposts you can use to orient yourself. These are the Apple events we're expecting over the next 12 months, including the dates for WWDC in June 2018.
Apple's spring 2018 event
Apple has sent out invitations to a number of education-focused events on 27 March. There's one at a school in Chicago, and we know there's another happening somewhere in the UK on the same date, but we haven't got the details yet.
We're not sure what to expect from this event, mainly because of the stated education angle. Will Apple tailor all of its announcements to the schools market? Will there be anything at all for the consumer market?
In the past Apple has made some significant announcements at spring events. In 2015 Apple held an event called 'Spring Forward' on 9 March 2015, where it announced pricing and the launch date for the original Apple Watch and unveiled the first 12in MacBook. And on 21 March 2016, at the 'Let us loop you in' event, we got the iPhone SE, the iPad Pro 9.7 and iOS 9.3.
However, spring 2017 was a bit of a disappointment for Apple followers: instead of a full-blown event the company quietly closed down its online store then sent out a press release announcing the launch of the iPad 2017 and the red iPhone 7.
Here's what Apple could launch this spring:
The 9.7in iPad was introduced in March 2017, so conceivably an update could come in March 2018. Cheap iPads are perfect for a schools market and would fit in neatly with the event's theme.
As for the iPad mini - it's been an age since the iPad mini 4 was introduced in September 2015 and an update is long over due.
Apple Pencil 2
The Pencil has been exclusive to the Pro models since its launch autumn 2015, but we feel that it's time to relax the exclusivity: will the next version of the iPad 9.7in support the Apple Pencil?
The invitation to the March event, with its calligraphic motif, also implies that something of this nature is going to be discussed. Read more here: Apple Pencil 2 rumours.
Another product that's well suited to the education sector is the MacBook Air: a relatively cheap laptop that's highly portable. We've been waiting a long time for an update.
Rather than discontinue the MacBook Air it looks like Apple will launch a new 13in model with a retina display at the same price as the MacBook Air is currently! Read more about Apple's new 13in MacBook Air.
The iPhone SE is a popular iPhone, being both the smallest and the cheapest handset on offer. Rumours are pointing to a new iPhone SE 2 model launching in the spring. But there's no obvious education angle - it now seems more likely this will be held back until later in the year.
We know that Apple is gearing up to produce its own content. Could the company be ready to make an announcement this spring? But again, there's no obvious education connection.
Apple claimed the Mac mini was still important to it. So could it be planning an update to the Mac that's been untouched since 2013? We hope so!
WWDC stands for Worldwide Developers Conference. This is an overwhelmingly software-focused event, where Apple announces the flagship features in its annual operating system updates for the benefit of its software developer partners who will have to update their software to work with the new OS.
This year Apple will hold the event from 4-8 June at the McEnery Convention Center in San Jose, California. Apple used this venue for the first time in 2017 - prior to the 2017 WWDC Apple had hosted the developer conferences at the Moscone Center for a number of years (2003 to 2016).
Developers can register for the event now, read about how to register for WWDC here.
At WWDC 2016 Apple announced macOS Sierra and iOS 10, and released beta versions of each; the final public releases wouldn't come until the autumn but this was the first chance to see what was going to be included.
At WWDC 2017 we heard about iOS 11 and macOS 10.13 High Sierra, as well as updates to tvOS and watchOS. We also got our first look at the new iMac Pro which was previewed alongside the launch of new iMacs, as well as the updated MacBook Pro and MacBook.
What of WWDC 2018? As usual we expect that Apple will reveal details about the next version of macOS (more information about 2018's macOS 10.14 here) and iOS (more information about iOS 12 here) as well as tvOS, watchOS. We also expect to see the following:
We are pretty confident that during the WWDC keynote we will get a first look at the new Mac Pro that Apple says it is working on.
The current Mac Pro was also unveiled at a WWDC - back in 2013. It's always possible that Apple won't show off about the new Mac Pro at WWDC given that it ought to be a bit embarrassed about the fuss it made about the new Mac when it unveiled it at the show in 2013.
We don't expect that the Mac Pro will be available to buy until much later in 2018 though - maybe even 2019.
New Apple display
If Apple shows off the new Mac Pro we expect it will also show off the new display that it has revealed it is working on.
iMac, MacBook, MacBook Pro and... MacBook Air!!!
We also expect that Apple will unveil updates to its range of Macs.
Most notably we expect that iMacs and the MacBook Pro will get more cores. With the top of the range models sporting six, rather than four, core processors. And the MacBook could gain a Touch Bar, and a colour change.
Read about the Macs we expect to see at WWDC here:
Apple September 2018 iPhone launch event
In September 2018 we are likely to see the launch of the next iPhone. The difficulty is predicting what Apple will call the next iPhone (or iPhones).
iPhone 9, Xi, 11, or something else...
We may see an iPhone 9 (and iPhone 9 Plus), or Apple may announcing an iPhone Xi (iPhone 11). And if the iPhone X Plus doesn't launch in the spring, we may see a Plus model launch in September.
Now may be the time it ditches the numbers and refers to the iPhone simply as iPhone and iPhone Plus.
In fact some rumours suggest that Apple will announce three new phones in 2018 - two high-end models with OLED screens, and one cheaper model with a LCD-TFT display. All three models are said to have all screen displays (although we assume the notch will remain).
iOS 12 & macOS 14
The iPhone usually shares its September event with announcements of when the latest version of iOS (in this case iOS 12) and macOS (v.10.14) will become available to the public in their final form, having been announced earlier that year at WWDC.
September is also a good time for Apple Watch updates, and in September 2017 we saw the announcement of the Apple Watch Series 3 with LTE.
Apple October 2018 event
In the past Apple has sometimes followed up its September press event with another smaller do in October. In the past it has unveiled iPads and updated Macs at that event.
The October event doesn't happen every year. Apple didn't hold an event in 2015 or 2017, for example, but on 27 October 2016 it held an event where it released the MacBook Pro with Touch Bar.