WWDC 2018 is just around the corner, and we're extremely excited to see what Apple's got up its sleeve. The annual conference is focused on software technologies, but sometimes Apple sneaks in a few hardware releases and announcements.
Last year, the iMac, MacBook, and iPad Pro lines all saw refreshes during Apple's developer conference, with the biggest changes made to the iPad Pro, including a new 10.5-inch form factor and the award-winning ProMotion display. Apple also revealed the iMac Pro and the HomePod, with both already on the market and available to purchase.
This year, alongside the usual iOS, macOS, and other software announcements, we're expecting refreshed MacBooks, iMacs, and iPads.
Here's everything you can expect to see from Apple at WWDC 2018, along with a few things that aren't likely to make an appearance, but would be awesome if they did.
MacBook and MacBook Pro
For the MacBook and MacBook Pro lines, we're expecting a switch to Intel's Coffee lake processors. Intel is already working on 10nm Cannon Lake processors, which would allow Apple to add a 32GB RAM option to all new MacBook models, but delays caused by manufacturing issues means we most likely have to wait until 2019 for Cannon Lake processor-equipped MacBook.
There has been a lot of buzz over Apple's TrueDepth camera system, and whether the company will start equipping MacBooks with this new technology. There's already a large list of Windows notebooks that support Windows Hello facial recognition that unlocks supported devices within a couple of seconds.
It only makes sense for Apple to start equipping their new MacBooks with Face ID. If they choose to reserve Face ID for the MacBook Pro line, this could also prompt the regular MacBook to drop in price.
Apple has been taking a lot of heat for its butterfly keyboard, and is even facing a class-action lawsuit over supposedly widespread failures. With that in mind, we could see an updated keyboard on the newest MacBook models.
The current MacBook Air is extremely outdated, but it's the cheapest MacBook you can get, currently $300 cheaper than the other base models. This year would be the optimal time to release a redesigned MacBook Air, maintaining a $999 price-tag and possibly getting even thinner than any MacBook has before, while also adopting the edge-to-edge glass and black bezels from the current MacBook lines.
If they choose not to redesign the MacBook Air, we can reasonably expect a specification upgrade or a price reduction.
The switch to Apple's new file system that arrived with macOS High Sierra was pretty rough. After initial compatibility issues, many users had to switch back to Sierra to get some of their old apps and server setups working again. We can definitely expect a new macOS update that will work towards fixing a lot of the problems introduced by High Sierra.
We can also expect some new features that will encourage more users to upgrade to newer versions of the Mac operating system, perhaps cross-platform features with iOS, or even updates to first-party apps.
Rumors that a next-generation iPad Pro will gain the TrueDepth camera array and Face ID have circulated for quite a while. Considering Apple-produced technologies like Touch ID trickle down to iPad after an initial unveiling on iPhone, we can expect TrueDepth to debut on iPad in the near future.
Apple slimmed the bezels on last year's 10.5-inch iPad Pro, fitting a larger screen into a smaller form factor, so there is the possibility that this year's edition could either fit a larger screen in the current 12.9-inch version's chassis, or they'll use the same display but make the overall device size smaller.
We're also expecting an upgrade to an A11X processor and other performance improvements.
Now that Apple's $329 budget iPad supports Apple Pencil and is equipped with an A10 Fusion processor, there aren't many reasons left for people to pay $399 for an A8-equipped iPad Mini 4.
We expect Apple to either lower the price of the iPad mini 4, refresh its specs, or kill it off completely. In the case of a refresh, TrueDepth camera and Apple Pencil support is a possibility, but not as likely as a simple price drop.
Last year, Apple gave the world a sneak peak at its upcoming AirPower charging mat, which was slated for release sometime in 2018. At the same time, it showed off an optional AirPods wireless charging case, one that could feasibly charge alongside an iPhone and an Apple Watch on the same AirPower mat.
We can expect Apple to release both of them at the same time at WWDC or shortly thereafter. But, given that Apple said "next year" when it released it, it's not technically late until the end of the year.
AirPods Wireless Charging Case
The wireless charging case for AirPods could be priced at around $69, and if it's only sold as an optional accessory, that will bring up the cost of buying both the case and the Airpods to a pricey total of $228. Future AirPods could be offered in two configurations, with one version supplied with the new charging case and another with a regular wired case.
iPhone SE 2
There's also the chance of Apple unveiling a new wirelessly charging product alongside the AirPower mat, and this could even be the iPhone SE 2. While rumors pointed to a launch earlier in the year, it's seemingly more likely that an update to the line could be launched in September, alongside the usual iPhone refresh.
When the updated iPhone SE does get released, we're expecting a glass back and the possibility of Face ID, although integration is not as likely as with other devices.
WatchOS 4 was a huge update, adding a slew of first-party app redesigns and other changes. We're expecting some usability improvements and a few new features with watchOS 5.
New watch faces are almost certain to make an appearance, hopefully including some new animated ones in this version.
Many users have been requesting an always-on display, and that could be a possibility for watchOS 5, especially with Apple Watch Series 4 or Series 5 already rumored to use a micro-LED display.
Apple's HomePod didn't have as wildly successful a launch as Apple hoped it would, especially due to the lack of Airplay 2 and stereo pairing support.
We're expecting the HomePod to gain a whole lot more in the way of Siri commands and functionality, because right now, it's extremely lacking compared to the competition.
Airplay 2 has been in the works for quite some time now, appearing in a number of betas for iOS 11.3 and iOS 11.4, and we expect Apple to finally release it this June. This will bring multi-room audio to its products, as well as fixing a lot of the stability issues that Airplay currently faces.
Last year, Apple detailed machine learning advancements that help Siri sound more natural. We expect some major Siri improvements to be announced at WWDC that take advantage of Apple's work in this field.
Camera access could be a nice inclusion, allowing us to ask Siri things with visual elements. For example, pointing to text in a foreign language and asking what language it is, or even to instantly translate a menu when shown to the camera.
We're also hoping that Siri will get a whole lot smarter, so it can finally compete with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant.
We're expecting more iPhones with Apple's TrueDepth camera system coming in September, and with that, more Animoji characters, and possibly more features surrounding Animoji. There should definitely be more features surrounding the TrueDepth camera system, such as horizontal support for Face ID, so you can unlock your iPad in landscape mode.
As for iPad, the product line should continue to gain features that make them more like computers. This could encourage more users to turn to using an iPad instead of buying a separate notebook.
Just like the iMac Pro tease we saw at last years' WWDC, we're hoping to hear more about Apple's 2019 Mac Pro, either at WWDC or the September event. But, Apple may feel that it has teased enough already.