This year was turbulent for Apple. While the world’s largest tech company saw great success in new products like the iPhone X and iPad Pro, it also experienced a number of lower points through the year, including delayed products like the HomePod, criticism from professional users about the companies most recent Macs, and buggy releases for the companies primary iOS and macOS platforms. So what’s 2018 going to look like?
For 2018, Apple hopes to address many of these criticisms, while also introducing many new products that will allow it to become the world’s first trillion dollar company finally.
Based on independent sources and third-party reports, here’s what I expect Apple to do in 2018.
After the release of the MacBook Pro with TouchBar in late 2016, some of Apple most dedicated users began speculating that Apple no longer cared about professional users. The new device did not feature basic Pro needs like an SD card reader, and the company had not released a new Pro desktop since the Mac Pro in 2013.
This public outcry resulted in a very un-Apple-like press meeting where Apple told tech publications that it heard these complaints, and we’re going to fix them. This year, we get to see how they do it.
Apple will unveil a brand new, user upgradeable Mac Pro, as well as USB-C Thunderbolt display to go along with it, in 2018. Additionally, we expect minor updates to the MacBook, MacBook Pro, and iMac.
2018: Apple Watch
After what appears to have been an amazingly successful holiday quarter for Apple Watch, Apple plans to unveil Apple Watch Series 4 in late 2018.
The device will feature upgraded internals, new heart tracking modes, additional activity functions, and a series of new watch bands.
Additionally, Apple is expected to continue to offer a lower-priced Apple Watch at $199, however with updated internals to help it stay up-to-date with the latest software updates.
Apple unveiled it’s HomePod speaker device this past September, however, despite promising a December release date, has yet to release the product.
Apple initially presented the HomePod in September as a high-end home speaker device with Siri functionality built for audio listening. It appears that Apple has chosen to delay the device to add capabilities to the Siri function on the speaker to better compete with competing products from Amazon and Google.
Because these impending changes may rely on software updates from third-party developers, Apple may choose to hold the device until June’s Worldwide Developer Conference, however, the company remains on track to release the device in March for $349.
iPhone in 2018
This past year, Apple unveiled the iPhone X, the first drastically redesigned iPhone in four years, and arguably the most significant iPhone update to date. With it, however, comes difficult questions about how Apple will handle future iPhone lineups.
Apple has recently made a habit of including overly powerful processors in iPhones, likely to increase longevity for both the consumer and the product. By doing this, Apple can leave older iPhones in the lineup far longer than previously.
Early reports seem to indicate three new iPhones from Apple are coming in 2018:
Whatever they end up calling it, Apple will unveil an updated 5.8-inch device with the same ‘notch’ design of the iPhone X. Expect the device to come in similar capacities and colors, and as always, a modest spec bump with the A12 processor. Also, we expect this device to feature a decent battery bump from its predecessor.
With the iPhone 8 Plus and X, Apple did little to change the camera but add Optical Image Stabilization to the telephoto lens. This year, however, Apple is working on a dramatically improved back camera for the 2018 iPhone lineup, including new advanced features using depth sensing, which could allow for refocusing of images after the photo is taken.
The only significant question mark is pricing. Currently, the iPhone X starts at $999, and while Apple hopes to move the X design down to lower-price points in the lineup over time, it is unclear if this will happen in 2018. We expect the 2018 model to ultimately replace the 2017 model, with the 2017 model removed from the lineup. Additionally, with the addition of a larger-sibling to the X lineup, it is possible Apple will start this device at $899 from the get-go.
iPhone XS Plus
Apple will release a 6.4-inch Plus model of the iPhone X lineup in 2018. The device, similar to previous Plus models, will feature identical specs to its smaller-siblings.
Historically, Plus-sized iPhones have had two distinct advantages over non-plus models: A larger, higher-resolution display and a drastically improved camera. However, now that the X features the dual-camera system, it is unlikely the Plus model will feature any differentiating feature besides for an improved display.
We believe the iPhone XS Plus will feature a 2800×1242 display, a modest improvement over the iPhone X’s 2436×1125 resolution. Additionally, we think the device will start at $100 more than the non-Plus model, as has been the case with other Plus models.
Multiple early reports have claimed that Apple plans to introduce a 6.1-inch iPhone, featuring an LCD display and the iPhone X design. This is a confusing move, as part of the benefit of iPhone X is the OLED display. However, this new device is appearing more and more to be the case, so let’s see how it could fit in.
These reports indicate that Apple does not plan on introducing updated 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch iPhones this year, which we at least somewhat expected. If Apple moves the iPhone 8 both down in the lineup to $599 and $699 respectively, Apple could sell this new device at $799, offering an excellent in-the-middle device for users who want the latest design but at a less-premium price tag.
Apple plans to unveil this year’s iPhone lineup in the fall, likely at the traditional September event.
Apple is planning to release an updated iPhone SE early this year.
The device, first introduced in March 2016, is a surprise hit. The current model features a similar design to the iPhone 5s, as well as a starting price of $349.
This years model will include a bump to Apple’s A10 processor, as well as a new design and color options to better match the iPhone 8 lineup.
2017 was inarguable a fantastic year for the iPad. Apple unveiled an excellent 9.7-inch iPad in March that started at $329. Then, in June, Apple refreshed the Pro lineup with an updated 12.9-inch model and an all-new 10.5-inch device.
This year, Apple doesn’t plan on slowing down. The company is preparing a series of new hardware and software updates to make the iPad an even more formidable PC-competitor.
Last year, Apple surprisingly released a 9.7-inch iPad with a more than adequate A9 processor and high-resolution display for just $329. This iPad was one of the highest-selling products this holiday season, and for 2018, Apple plans to make it even better.
Apple plans to introduce an updated 9.7-inch iPad in 2018. The device will feature a slightly tweaked design, a faster A10 chip, and a new, even cheaper starting price: $259. That wasn’t a typo, $259 for a 32GB iPad.
Both the 10.5-inch and 12.9-inch iPad Pros will receive updates in 2018. These updates will include a new A11X processor, additional RAM, and improved battery life.
However, the most significant change to this year’s iPad Pros will be the addition of the Face ID technology first introduced in this years iPhone X. To accommodate this change, Apple added new functions to Face ID, including the ability to use it in different orientations and multi-user support and the company appears to be on track with these changes.
Because of the Face ID addition, the iPad Pro no longer needs the home button, and therefore both devices will receive a significant design change, with the bezels shrinking dramatically on all sides. Despite the shrinking bezels, the iPad’s will not need the infamous notch.
Apple is on track to release the updated Pro iPads this fall.
Another surprise hit, Apple’s truly-wireless AirPods will receive their first update in 2018. The headphones are said to feature improved microphones, better battery life, improved sound quality, and will come with Apple’s wireless charging case first introduced in September.
Apple will announce iOS 12 at the companies annual Worldwide Developers Conference in June. Early reports indicate the update will primarily focus on bug fixes and stability improvements following some high-profile issues with iOS 11.
In addition to these smaller updates, Apple is preparing a number of new iPad and iPhone X specific features. While specifics aren’t clear at this point, one source indicated that picture-in-picture would be heading to the iPhone X in the next update.
iOS 12 will release to the public in June.
macOS 12.14, Cross-Platform Apps, and Other Software
Apple will also announce macOS 12.14 at its Worldwide Developer Conference, and the update will also feature on stability improvements, alongside a few noticeable design changes.
Recent reports have indicated that Apple plans to allow developers to create cross-platform apps later this year for the first time, following an initial report from Bloomberg. This is not exactly the case.
While Apple does plan to streamline its developer kits alongside this year’s software updates, developers will still be required to develop Mac and iOS software independently. By having shared design resources, developers will be able to create independent versions for each platform easily, however little else will change. Additionally, Apple intends on allowing cross-platform App listings for the first time. So, while the apps themselves will be independently developed, Google, for example, could have one Chrome listing for all of Apple’s App Stores, and have the correct binary download on each device.
Lastly, Apple plans to release new tvOS and watchOS updates at WWDC 2018.
Apple Productions and Apple Music
Apple is currently working on around a dozen independently produced television programs and movies for a new streaming service set to debut this year.
While at launch the content will be intertwined with Apple Music, the company plans to eventually have it become a main selling point of the service, hoping to rebrand or spin-out the content down the road.
As for Music, Apple is working to completely stop selling digital music by the end of 2019, migrating users libraries to Apple Music and encouraging subscribing to the service. Users who wish to remain off the service will be able to have their purchased music on their devices, however, will not be able to buy additional music from the iTunes store.
All of this is part of an effort to create a comprehensive streaming service to replace iTunes. While details aren’t clear yet, Apple seems to have reentered negotiations with movie studios and TV production companies to create a streaming service yet again, after failing to secure deals in 2014 and 2015. By establishing streaming-services to replace the current iTunes Store, Apple will have continuous revenue from users who have now stopped purchasing content in favor of streaming methods.
Apple appears to be in-store for another action-packed year of product launches. Be sure to stay tuned for more Apple news.
Binyamin has been writing about Apple and the tech sector as a whole for over five years.
His work has been featured on Forbes, MacWorld, Giga, MacLife, and more.
Additionally, Goldman is the Founder of BZG, a software development company focusing on Apple devices.