Occasionally Apple will drop a product on an unsuspecting public like a thunderbolt from a clear sky, but mostly it follows a recognisable pattern. In the past the company has structured its big announcements around three yearly events: spring, WWDC in June, and iPhones in September. But sometimes there are too many products to go round, and we get an extra event or two.
In this article Macworld's grizzled Apple pundits 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.
Overview of 2018
So far 2018 has seen a major education-themed iPad launch in late March, followed in June by one of the biggest dates in the Apple calendar: the week-long WWDC 2018 developer conference. This saw major updates to all four of Apple's software platforms, but contrary to expectations there was no hardware news at all.
Some consolation was provided by the announcement in July of new MacBook Pro models.
It's possible that other hardware is set for an imminent update - the 12in MacBook, say, or the iMac - but most likely we must now wait until Apple's biggest yearly event of all: the iPhone refresh in September. This is also likely to see final launches of the OS updates previewed in the summer, and could see HomePod and AirPod updates too.
These are the Apple events we're expecting over the next 12 months.
Late-summer hardware events 2018
We were disappointed not to get any hardware announcements at WWDC 2018. The MacBook Pros got a refresh the following month, but there's still time for another quiet announcement before September - it's a long shot, we'd say, but possible.
We're hearing that an update to the MacBook Air is in the pipeline after a long wait. It almost sounds too good to be true; but apparently, 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 current Air!
Read more about Apple's new 13in MacBook Air.
Alternatively this rumoured new 13in Mac laptop could be an update to the MacBook, which is currently 12in, but could be getting a bigger screen (as well as a lower price).
Read all the MacBook 2018 rumours here.
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!
Read the latest news about Apple's Mac mini here.
We also expect that Apple will unveil updates to its range of iMacs, which like the MacBook Pro should get more cores - that's six, rather than four, core processors.
2018 also marks twenty years since the iMac was introduced, so a good time for an update, we think.
The iPhone SE is a popular iPhone, being both the smallest and the cheapest handset on offer. Rumours point to a new iPhone SE 2 model launching soon, so an unveiling this summer is possible, although it's possible we may never see a new iPhone SE - marking the end of the smaller iPhone.
Read the latest news about the iPhone SE2.
It's probably wishful thinking, but there are a lot of rumours flying around suggesting that Apple will launch a cheaper, smaller HomePod (maybe it will have Beats rather than Apple branding). Such a move would, presumably, help Apple gain marketshare in the smart speaker space, but it has a long way to go before it has anything like the market share of Amazon.
Read about the Mini HomePod here.
Apple has said that the new Mac Pro won't launch before 2019, but we'd love to get a sneak preview. Is it still too early? Whether we see a machine depends on how much progress the company has made in that regard.
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. But, again, it may be something Apple chooses to keep under its hat until 2019.
Read all about Apple's new display here - it could offer 8K!
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 X Plus, 9, Xi, 11, or something else...
There are lots of rumours pointing to an iPhone X Plus - expected to launch in September. It's likely that this will be a next generation of the iPhone X, launched alongside the new version of that phone, perhaps the iPhone Xi. We may also see an iPhone 9 (or iPhone 9 Plus).
Now may be the time it ditches the numbers and refers to the iPhone simply as iPhone and iPhone Plus. What ever happens, it looks like all the new phones will have Face ID.
Some rumours suggest that Apple will announce three new phones in 2018 - two high-end X 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 (Mojave) will become available to the public in their final form, having been announced earlier that year at WWDC 2018.
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. Here are all the Apple Watch Series 4 rumours.
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.
Apple's spring 2019 event
In 2018 Apple held an education-focused events on 27 March at a school in Chicago. The company made a series of announcements including a new iPad (with support for Apple Pencil), updates to Pages, Numbers and Keynote, and GarageBand. As well as talking at length about what it can do for teachers and students.
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.
As yet we have no predictions as to what Apple could launch in the spring of 2019 - although we are hearing that the long awaited video streaming service that could take on Netflix may finally launch! Read the latest news about Apple's plans for TV and Movie content here.
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.
In 2018 Apple held 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).
Tickets to WWDC are allocated via a ballot. Here's how to get WWDC tickets.
So, what can we expect to see during the WWDC keynote in 2019?
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. In 2018 it was all about iOS 12, macOS Mojave, tvOS 12 and watchOS 5.
It doesn't take a genius, then, to predict that WWDC 2019 will feature updates to iOS, macOS, tvOS and watchOS. Whether these will be accompanied by hardware announcements is another matter, but going by 2018's event it's possible that Apple is steering away from such mixed events.