What to expect from Apple's WWDC 2018 keynote -- and what not to

Posted:
in Future Apple Hardware edited June 2
WWDC is nearly upon us. AppleInsider takes a look at most of Apple's hardware lineup, and talks about what we might see, what we might not, and why.

Tim Cook at 2017 WWDC


Apple's WWDC hasn't historically been a venue associated with a flurry of hardware releases, the 2017 one notwithstanding. Given Apple's recent focus on software technologies in health, augmented reality, and virtual reality, there is a decent likelihood that we'll see very little in the way of new Iron.

Here's a look at Apple's current product lineup minus the iPhone and Apple Watch which will probably be updated in September, and what we're expecting to see from each.

macOS 10.14, iOS 12, tvOS 12, and watchOS 5 are coming

What says yes: Everything. Apple takes the opportunity it gets at WWDC to show developers, and the world, what's coming in the next versions of the operating system. There is absolutely nothing suggesting otherwise this year.

It's not clear how revelatory the new versions will be. Previous rumors suggested that these updates will be about refining the existing versions rolled out last year. But, given that High Sierra was supposed to do that to Sierra, there's some room for discussion.

macOS High Sierra


Be careful about your old apps, though. At best, 32-bit apps will have "compromises" according to Apple, and at worst they may not run at all. It might be time to check which apps you rely on are, and aren't 64-bit.

What says no: Nothing at all. It's basically a guarantee that the revisions are going to be presented. Like we said, they're likely to expand on Apple's burgeoning ambitions in user's health, and further expand Apple's ARKit.

MacBook Pro

What says yes: After of over a following the 2015 MacBook Pro, Apple rolled out the 2016 MacBook Pro at the tail end of the year. It refreshed the line in an uncharacteristic hardware bonanza at the 2017 WWDC, after less than a year in service. And, it's been a year, so it might be time again.

The updates were relatively modest, with a slightly better CPU and GPU. It seems possible that Apple will do the same at the 2018 WWDC to hit the "back to school" period.

2017 MacBook Pro


What says no: There isn't a compelling engineering reason for Apple to do so today. Instead, it could wait until later in the year or January 2019 for Intel's chipset that will allow 32GB of LPDDR4 RAM -- as the existing ones can't have more than 16GB of RAM without switching to a more power-hungry chipset.

But then again, this chipset from Intel is two years late already. Apple may not want to wait.

iPad Pro

What says yes: A slew of filings from overseas regulatory agencies suggest that there are iOS devices imminent. Couple this with the last update to the product being a year ago, and the iPad Pro line seems ripe for a refresh.

Time marches on. The 2018 sixth generation iPad is very close to the 2017 iPad Pro lineup in speed, minus some hardware niceties. It might be time to open that lead with a new A11-based processor in the iPad Pro.

What says no: Generally, we've seen suggestions from the supply chain and rumors popping out beyond regulatory agency filings that a new model is coming. This year, there's been none of that, and a recent report seems to suggest the same.

MacBook

What says yes: It's been more than a year between updates for the heir apparent to the MacBook Air's previous place in the lineup. Couple that with new Intel processors that bring a slight bit more speed for the same cost, power, and thermal footprints, and the time seems ripe for a MacBook update.

MacBook


What says no: Again, there may not be a compelling engineering reason to do so. The new processors aren't a lot faster than the old ones, and don't have better graphical performance. So, Apple may wait, the same as it did when it waited to roll out the refreshed MacBook Pro in 2016.

A report on Thursday suggested that the hardware wouldn't make it to WWDC, but there's nothing that firm behind the report.

MacBook Air

What says yes: It's been a really long time since Apple did anything with the MacBook Air with any weight behind it. It had a quiet update in 2017 with slightly faster specs, but that's it.

A rumor suggests that the MacBook Air will get a Retina Display update, but that seems improbable given that the MacBook already has one, coupled with Apple's thinness obsession.

MacBook Air


What says no: It's pretty clear that the MacBook is Apple's intended successor to the MacBook Air's position in the lineup. It's only a matter of time before the product is killed, or turns into something else -- but more on that a bit later.

iMac 4K and iMac 5K

What says yes: If we're looking at an annual upgrade cycle, now's the time. Plus, back to school season is approaching rapidly, and getting ahead of that seems wise. There are faster chips to use, but...

What says no: As with nearly everything else, the chips that Apple might shove in the iMac 4K aren't much faster. A possibility exists that Apple may opt for the i9 six-core processor in the iMac 5K, but then it would be pushing into iMac Pro performance -- and cost -- territory.

This all said, could we get a better GPU in the iMac? Just asking.



iMac Pro

What says yes: Very little, other than the fact that it was unveiled a year ago.

What says no: The iMac Pro was actually released until about seven months ago, and it brought with it advanced processors that blow the doors off of anything else in the Mac lineup. There really aren't newer processors that Apple might want to include in the iMac Pro, so we're not expecting a major refresh of the line just yet.

An update by the end of the year is possible, given Intel's road map -- and assuming the chipmaker meets its goals for what seems like the first time in a decade. We're just not expecting Apple to address it at WWDC beyond how much they like it, and how well it's been embraced by the "Pro" user.

Mac Pro

What says yes: Apple might mention it in passing as coming in 2019. But, it seems improbable that given that the machine is at closest 7 months away, and at most, 19, that they'll talk specs or tease design.

What says no: Apple went out of their way earlier in the year to say that the Mac Pro was a 2019 product. It may not get mentioned at all, given that the focus at WWDC has historically been software.

Apple Pro displays

What says yes: Less firmly in 2019 are Apple Pro displays. Apple is pretty clear about wanting to make inroads in with Apple-branded "Pro" products, and anything they release now would be able to be be used with the current product lineup.

The less said about the rocky USB-C LG 4K and Thunderbolt 3 LG 5K display rollouts the better.

What says no: As with the rest of the hardware on the list, generally the rumor mill has spotted a prototype here or there by now. There's just nothing floating around.

Mac mini

What says yes: It has been ages, and back to school season will be upon us soon. But, on the other hand...

What says no: It has literally been years since the last update suggesting that the product in its current form is dead as a doornail.

Apple executives say that the Mac mini is important, but they sure don't act like it. As you expect, we have thoughts on the matter.

Wild cards

WWDC has recently not been a hardware event. The 2017 WWDC was an unexpected hardware bonanza the likes of which hadn't been seen for many years.

But, there are changes coming in the future. If there is anybody reading this that thinks that Apple doesn't have a version of macOS running on ARM processors, I'm not even sure what to tell you. It's coming, it's inevitable, if for no other reason to break the shackles of Intel's missed deadlines the way it did when it shifted away from PowerPC to Intel in 2006.

The question is when, and on what platform? Apple already has the ultimate migratory tool to make the transition easier in Xcode, and there are suggestions that this technology is well underway. In all probability, it will come to the lower end of Apple's hardware spectrum first, in a MacBook Air, MacBook, or Mac mini, and will migrate up at a later time.

Apple's HomePod doesn't really need a hardware refresh annually, unless they decide to deploy a smaller or less expensive one. It's hard to envision that scenario this year, given that the core HomePod itself hasn't even seen a holiday season yet.

While we will likely see software updates to the HomePod improving Siri, it's also probably too early to see a widening of access to the HomePod's hardware for developer access.

As far as "one more thing" goes, that seems improbable this year. Prior to the 2017 rollout of the HomePod, there was about six months of rumors building up to it, with the focus narrowing in on the final product well before it actually was shown.

This year, there is shockingly little. The "iPhone SE 2" rumor mill continues to churn, and there are discussions about the 2018 iPhone lineup and that's about it at present. From a rumor standpoint, there are far fewer so far this year, versus the last five years.

Other than a questionable report talking about an ARM-based macOS device in the early stages of evaluation, there just doesn't seem to be anything surprising and new behind Apple's curtain -- at least for WWDC.

AppleInsider will be in San Jose all week with the latest news from WWDC 2018. Stay abreast of Apple's announcements by downloading the AppleInsider app for iOS, and follow us on Twitter @appleinsider and Facebook for live, late-breaking coverage. You can also check out our official Instagram account for exclusive photos from the event.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 137
    gutengelgutengel Posts: 63member
    What about airpower and airpods 2? At least I hope they release those products...
    preclarotipotmaymwhitewatto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 137
    dick applebaumdick applebaum Posts: 12,433member
    Swift 5 with stable ABI
    Swift interopability with dynamic languages (already approved, and partially released) — one programming language to rule them all
    FoundationDB ARM, and Swift API
    A12 pro iPad
    proOS for iPads and Macs

    preclarotipotmaymcdavemattinozwatto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 137
    One sure-ish thing should be HomeKit and Airplay 2 on macOS. Right?
    preclarotipowillcropointcornchipwatto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 137
    ericthehalfbeeericthehalfbee Posts: 3,431member
    Lots of comments like:

    "Apple late to the party. Android had this since 1975."

    Seriously, the nerds will be sweating all weekend wondering what Apple will announce, and will be raging all day Monday.


    I hope to see something on the Mac Pro (at least a preview or glimpse). And a newer iPad Pro with an A11X. Maybe even a surprise software announcement demonstrating the power inside an iPad Pro (wouldn't Photoshop on an iPad Pro be something to see?). And, of course, what do they bring to iOS 12.
    Solilkruppracerhomie3watto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 137
    tallest skiltallest skil Posts: 43,119member
    gutengel said:
    What about airpower and airpods 2? At least I hope they release those products...
    I’d like to know how well iPod colors sold. Like, just as a concept. If they sold well enough, maybe Apple offering color options for AirPods would be the new “trend” thing. 

    minicoffeeicoco3dewmecornchipwatto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 137
    Maybe even a surprise software announcement demonstrating the power inside an iPad Pro (wouldn't Photoshop on an iPad Pro be something to see?). And, of course, what do they bring to iOS 12.
    Photoshop wouldn't be much of a "wow" in terms of running on an iPad Pro. Maybe 3-4 years ago, but not today. There's already heavier lifting apps than that available.
    StrangeDaysmcdaveracerhomie3watto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 137
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 2,682administrator
    One sure-ish thing should be HomeKit and Airplay 2 on macOS. Right?
    I'd like to see that, personally.
    dewmeracerhomie3watto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 137
    macapfelmacapfel Posts: 468member
    I think you (almost) completely forgot about Service and Media. Service: better integration of Home, Family-Sharing, ApplePay, Health on Mac with expanded analytics, ... Media: more Music content, easier access through multiple HomePods, Movies, ... And sure, Siri update!
  • Reply 9 of 137
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 2,682administrator
    macapfel said:
    I think you (almost) completely forgot about Service and Media. Service: better integration of Home, Family-Sharing, ApplePay, Health on Mac with expanded analytics, ... Media: more Music content, easier access through multiple HomePods, Movies, ... And sure, Siri update!
    Didn't forget. This isn't really a software-centric piece, though.
  • Reply 10 of 137
    macapfelmacapfel Posts: 468member
    macapfel said:
    I think you (almost) completely forgot about Service and Media. Service: better integration of Home, Family-Sharing, ApplePay, Health on Mac with expanded analytics, ... Media: more Music content, easier access through multiple HomePods, Movies, ... And sure, Siri update!
    Didn't forget. This isn't really a software-centric piece, though.
    Oh, OK. Just from the title I thought this is what could be expected from WWDC as well.
    willcropoint
  • Reply 11 of 137
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 2,682administrator
    macapfel said:
    macapfel said:
    I think you (almost) completely forgot about Service and Media. Service: better integration of Home, Family-Sharing, ApplePay, Health on Mac with expanded analytics, ... Media: more Music content, easier access through multiple HomePods, Movies, ... And sure, Siri update!
    Didn't forget. This isn't really a software-centric piece, though.
    Oh, OK. Just from the title I thought this is what could be expected from WWDC as well.
    Yeah, we talked about it briefly, you're right. Software expansions beyond version numbering are WAY harder to predict.
    willcropointcornchipwatto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 137
    gutengelgutengel Posts: 63member
    I’d like to know how well iPod colors sold. Like, just as a concept. If they sold well enough, maybe Apple offering color options for AirPods would be the new “trend” thing. 
    I saw somebody wearing matte black airpods (from that company that does any color you want) and they look sleep AF. I wouldn't mind paying the $20 black apple tax for black airpods. 
    cornchipwatto_cobra
  • Reply 13 of 137
    Personally I have been really disappointed & depressed with the hardware in the MacBook Pro & the iMac for a long time. Plus I wished that Apple would be more serious about a Gaming PC. I love Apple’s MacOS, but in order to have a great Gaming PC I had to build a Windows Gaming Machine. Personally I hate using Windows, but that is the only way for me to play really great games with awesome graphics. Another thing is that I wish Apple would not be so obsessed with thinnest. Because of this we are limited in what hardware can be put into a iMac & in a MacBook Pro. I want to stay in the Apple ecosystem, but cannot do that if I want to play seriously great games. Another thing I would wish for is for Apple to ditch Intel. Intel has been awful to Apple treating them like they are crap & never producing any CPUs that is mind blowing. I would really like Apple since they already have a great relationship with AMD for graphics to use their CPUs or work with Apple to create a awesome CPU just for Apple Mac devices. I really believe that AMD is humble enough to be willing to go the extra miles for Apple to create great hardware if they can work out the problems with Thunderbolt 3 compatibility. For me the last 5 years I have not been impressed with the Mac hardware Apple has brought out. On the other hand I have been really impressed with the iPhones & iPads devices. Personally I think iOS still has much more room to grow & especially would like to see a refresh of the GUI to make me feel like I have really updated to a new iOS. In my humble opinion I feel that iOS GUI has been looking boring of late. Gets updated, but still feels like the same old iOS. So in the end I am not holding my breath or excited when it comes to the 2018 WWDC. I have been so disappointed year after year that I just don’t care as much as I use to. Especially after the release of the 2016 MacBook Pros. Which is sad because I really am a Apple fan & want them to be great with Mac devices along with their awesome iOS devices. If they can ditch Intel they will be better for it. Till then I will be hoping & waiting for the Mac lineups to improve dramatically. 
    h2p
  • Reply 14 of 137
    SpamSandwichSpamSandwich Posts: 29,235member
    8K iMac Pro?  :)
  • Reply 15 of 137
    dick applebaumdick applebaum Posts: 12,433member
    macapfel said:
    macapfel said:
    I think you (almost) completely forgot about Service and Media. Service: better integration of Home, Family-Sharing, ApplePay, Health on Mac with expanded analytics, ... Media: more Music content, easier access through multiple HomePods, Movies, ... And sure, Siri update!
    Didn't forget. This isn't really a software-centric piece, though.
    Oh, OK. Just from the title I thought this is what could be expected from WWDC as well.
    Yeah, we talked about it briefly, you're right. Software expansions beyond version numbering are WAY harder to predict.

    It seems obvious  that Apple needs to do something with OS for iPads -- especially when they are used with a keyboard.  They could add a cursor to the display and a touchpad to the kb.   Given that, Apple could create a proOS [sic] that incorporates many of the features of macOS: multiple windows; file system; multiuser; Xcode; etc.

    Apple is rumored to be releasing some ARM-based Macs by this WWDC or the next. It would make sense to announce/deliver a proOS Beta to developers next week... maybe, followed by a public beta in a month.

    One can think of a whole lot of advantages of doing this now!


    SpamSandwichtmay
  • Reply 16 of 137
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 2,682administrator
    macapfel said:
    macapfel said:
    I think you (almost) completely forgot about Service and Media. Service: better integration of Home, Family-Sharing, ApplePay, Health on Mac with expanded analytics, ... Media: more Music content, easier access through multiple HomePods, Movies, ... And sure, Siri update!
    Didn't forget. This isn't really a software-centric piece, though.
    Oh, OK. Just from the title I thought this is what could be expected from WWDC as well.
    Yeah, we talked about it briefly, you're right. Software expansions beyond version numbering are WAY harder to predict.

    It seems obvious  that Apple needs to do something with OS for iPads -- especially when they are used with a keyboard.  They could add a cursor to the display and a touchpad to the kb.   Given that, Apple could create a proOS [sic] that incorporates many of the features of macOS: multiple windows; file system; multiuser; Xcode; etc.

    Apple is rumored to be releasing some ARM-based Macs by this WWDC or the next. It would make sense to announce/deliver a proOS Beta to developers next week... maybe, followed by a public beta in a month.

    One can think of a whole lot of advantages of doing this now!


    ARM macs: probably not this WWDC, and probably not next. Nothing we've heard or seen suggests hardware any sooner than 2020. You're right that some discussions with developers probably need to be had.
    edited June 1
  • Reply 17 of 137
    volcanvolcan Posts: 1,601member
    dick applebaum said:
    It seems obvious  that Apple needs to do something with OS for iPads -- especially when they are used with a keyboard. 

    Given that, Apple could create a proOS [sic] that incorporates many of the features of macOS: multiple windows; file system; multiuser; Xcode; etc.
    The primary purpose of an iPad is lightweight portability and touch interface. By the time you outfit an iPad Pro 12.9" with a keyboard it will still weigh less than a MacBook Air 13" but not by much and the cost is about the same. Personally, I'd rather have the Air so I could run full Adobe CC and any other software that is made for macOS. Of course if you wanted pencil features you'd need a Wacom for the Air which would add a little weight but might possibly be more full featured than the Apple Pencil for some uses. With the Air you also get USB 3, Thunderbolt 2 and SD card reader. The iPad Pro does have some advantages though like TouchID and a 12 Mp camera, but those features are not really as important on an iPad as they are on an iPhone, and who doesn't have an iPhone in their pocket anyway.
    h2pradarthekat
  • Reply 18 of 137
    wizard69wizard69 Posts: 12,424member
    macapfel said:
    macapfel said:
    I think you (almost) completely forgot about Service and Media. Service: better integration of Home, Family-Sharing, ApplePay, Health on Mac with expanded analytics, ... Media: more Music content, easier access through multiple HomePods, Movies, ... And sure, Siri update!
    Didn't forget. This isn't really a software-centric piece, though.
    Oh, OK. Just from the title I thought this is what could be expected from WWDC as well.
    Yeah, we talked about it briefly, you're right. Software expansions beyond version numbering are WAY harder to predict.

    It seems obvious  that Apple needs to do something with OS for iPads -- especially when they are used with a keyboard.  They could add a cursor to the display and a touchpad to the kb.   Given that, Apple could create a proOS [sic] that incorporates many of the features of macOS: multiple windows; file system; multiuser; Xcode; etc.

    Apple is rumored to be releasing some ARM-based Macs by this WWDC or the next. It would make sense to announce/deliver a proOS Beta to developers next week... maybe, followed by a public beta in a month.

    One can think of a whole lot of advantages of doing this now!


    ARM macs: probably not this WWDC, and probably not next. Nothing we've heard or seen suggests hardware any sooner than 2020. You're right that some discussions with developers probably need to be had.
    Im not sure!      If Apple really intends to go this route, Mac specific ARM chips would already be developed.    For something like the Mac Book Apple can get by with modest modifications to the. A 11.   Even the Mini could  go this route.   

    The other machines would need completely new chips.  One thing you dont see much said about is custom Apple co-processrs to work with Intel hardware.  Maybe a discreet GPU with AR and ML acccelerstion.    This woukd be a great way for apple to bridge the transition gap.   
    mcdave
  • Reply 19 of 137
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 18,594member
    Pip'd in AI article
    edited June 1
  • Reply 20 of 137
    wizard69wizard69 Posts: 12,424member
    While i cant say for certain if ARM based Macs will ever come i believe that the most important thing that they can do at WWDC is to convince people that they give a damn about Mac hardware.    Public opinion has Apple in a bad place right now, this largely due to the Pathetic lack of updates to existng Mac platforms.    In some cases it is also the issue of a set of updates nobody wanted.  

    It is the need to become more customer driven.  That is market Macs people would actually want to own.  4 year old Minis - Nope.   IMacs with terrible upgade and maintenance features - Nope.  A Mac pro that was released and then never updated - Nope.   MBA left to languish - nope.   

    I could go on but right now we only have a couple if laptops   that have reasonable hardware and software features.   Everything else is either outdated or destroyed appeal wise because of Apples management of the line.   
    avon b7
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