2017 has already been big for Apple, but it’s not over yet. We gather the rumours and whispers about Apple and make our predictions for the year ahead.
2017 has already been a busy one for Apple, with the launch of new iPads, a slew of new Macs and the announcement of an all new product called the HomePod.
But what else does 2017 have up its sleeves for Apple fans? Well, here at Macworld we’ve donned our prognostication hats, investigated every rumour and trend we could find, all to bring you our predictions for 2017. It has already been a big year, but it sure isn’t over yet.
What has Apple announced so far in 2017?
Let’s start with a really quick overview of what’s happened so far this year. It’s been busy, that’s for sure.
In January, Apple released its first updates of the year, but these were software. The company made big improvements to its music apps Garageband and Logic Pro X.
Then, in March of 2017, Apple hosted an event to show off a few new products that it had been keeping up its sleeve:
- New Apple Watch bands
- A new 9.7in tablet simply called iPad
- A (PRODUCT) Red Special Edition iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus
- A new Clips app
In June, at WWDC 2017, Apple had several major announcements to share with us.
As expected, Apple unveiled macOS High Sierra and iOS 11 (we share more information on those below), but more of a surprise were the following from the company:
- iMac Pro
- 10.5in iPad Pro
- An update to the 12.9in iPad Pro
- watchOS 4
- Updated iMacs
- Updated MacBooks
- A spec boost for the MacBook Air
- Updated MacBook Pro models
Apple also teased the launch of a new Mac Pro, which is expected in 2018. The updated Macs and iPads are available now, but we talk more about the all new iMac Pro and HomePod here, as well as the upcoming Mac Pro model.
After all that, there’s still even more to come. Read on for the lowdown on what we’re expecting from Apple for the rest of the year.
2017 marks the 10th anniversary of the iPhone, so many are expecting Apple to pull out all the stops and release something quite special.
iPhone 7s or iPhone 8
There has been much discussion over what the new iPhone will be called. Normally Apple would continue its tick-tock rhythm of a new design one year followed by the S version which upgrades only the internals. But the iPhone 7 featured a minimal change to the design of the 6 and 6s, which leads many to think that Apple is saving the big changes for its 10th Anniversary model, the iPhone 8, potentially even with a simultaneous launch of the 7s.
Perhaps the biggest expected change to the design of the iPhone 8 is the removal of the Home button to allow an edge-to-edge glass display. But what of Apple ID and the fingerprint sensor? Well, there have been several reports that Apple intends to include technology that allows the screen itself to act as a fingerprint sensor, thus removing the need for a physical button.
Alternatively, Apple might use facial recognition instead of/in addition to the fingerprint sensor. Apple reportedly purchased Israeli startup RealFace, which as the name hints specialises in facial recognition technology.
This would be a truly remarkable innovation and give iPhone users display sizes on par with many premium Android devices but in a compact format.
MacRumours also asserts that Apple is intending to use a flexible OLED display rather than the LCD panels that have appeared on previous iPhones. This could make the devices lighter while also offering more vivid colours and contrasts.
Another feature often found on Android phones is that of wireless charging, and it looks very likely that this will be included on the iPhone 8. Some rumours even suggest the Apple will include long-range wireless charging, with Bloomberg Business reporting that the company wants to impliment the game changing technology that could charge an iphone from several feet away, and could have it ready for 2017.
The Jet Black colour introduced with the iPhone 7 has been very popular, but its tendency to scratch easily is thought to have prompted Apple to return to a glass back and front design for the iPhone 8. There might also be new Deep Blue and Space Black colour options if the reports on various Japanese sites are to be believed.
So with a new edge-to-edge design, software enabled fingerprint detection, long-range wireless charging, better display, plus the usual internal upgrades, the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus really could be a worthy way to mark a decade at the top. Roll on September 2017.
For the latest rumours and an in-depth roundup read our iPhone 8 release date rumours article.
When? We think September
iPhone SE 2
Many had anticipated that Apple would upgrade the iPhone SE model to the iPhone SE2 or SEs in March 2017, replacing the existing (and rather popular) SE that was introduced in March 2016. However the iPhone SE was only treated to a bump in storage to 32- and 128GB on 21 March and another update seems unlikely for now.
We do still expect a new iPhone SE model at some point in the future, maybe in September or maybe in 2018 (KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has forecast that the iPhone SE 2 won’t make an appearance in 2017 at all, on the principle that Apple doesn’t want to cannibalise sales of the (higher-margin) iPhone 7).
When the new model launches it is likely to keep the existing, classic design, but feature upgraded internals such as the A10 chip found in the current iPhone 7 and a more powerful camera.
When? We think spring 2018
The iPad mini received a minor update in March 2017, gaining more capacity for the same price (£419 for the 128GB Wi-Fi model and £549 for the 128GB Wi-Fi + Cellular). However, this was not the iPad mini 5 anticipated, and given that the iPad mini 4 was last updated in September 2015, it’s clear that Apple isn’t too focused on its smaller tablets and Apple does state that the most popular tablet size is 9.7in.
Perhaps October will see the introduction of an iPad Mini Pro with upgraded components, a new thinner, tougher aluminium chassis, and the inclusion of a Smart Connector to match that of the other iPad Pro devices.
Read more about the iPad mini 5: iPad mini 5 new feature rumours
When? We think 2018
iOS 11 has already been unveiled by Apple, and is currently being tested by developers. It became available for the public to test in July, and will be released in its final form in September alongside new iPhones. (See: How to get iOS 11 now)
iOS 11 has plenty of new features that we’re excited about. The App Store has been redesigned, there are new Photos and Camera features, the Control Centre has had a makeover and much more. It’s particularly great for iPad users, as it has several features that are exclusive to the tablet. These include a new Files app, new multitasking functions, and improved Apple Pencil support.
Find out everything you need to know about iOS 11 here.
When? We think September 2017
Apple Watch Series 3
Apple released the second generation of its Watch in September of 2016 which added GPS, internal upgrades, and water-proofing to the design. This was accompanied by the WatchOS 3 update that increased performance and functionality for not only the new models but also the original range.
WatchOS 4 has now been unveiled, with a new Siri face, improved Activity and Workout apps with the ability to communicate with gym equipment, a redesigned Music app and more. You can find out more about WatchOS 4 here.
We expect to see Apple announce the third iteration of its Watch in September 2017, hopefully for around the same price as the current models which start at £369, although that is far from certain after the increases we saw at the end of 2016.
Apple did offer some new Apple Watch bands in March 2017. These include a new wide stripe Woven Nylon band, standalone Nike Sport Bands and Apple Watch Hermès bands in new colours.
There’s little in the way of firm evidence suggesting what the Apple Watch 3 will look like, but it’s fair to say that you should expect a model that’s very similar to the current version.
It’s widely expected that the Watch 3 will include a front facing camera that could be used for selfies or FaceTime calls, as Apple holds a patent for such a device and Watch OS 2 introduced support for FaceTime audio calls.
The new model is also rumoured to feature a Micro-LED display, which would be lighter, thinner, and brighter than the AMOLED panels currently used.
Another common thought is that Apple will finally introduce 3G or 4G capabilities to the Watch, in order to make it more independent from the iPhone. We’re not convinced by this. Apple likes its devices to be closely tied together, and the battery life problems that come with cellular capabilities might make it an unattractive option at this time.
It’s still early days for the Apple Watch, so we fully expect this to be a quiet evolution rather than revolution. Thinner, lighter, faster and longer battery life is the mantra, and we’d be very happy with that.
For a more in-depth look at the latest rumours on the Apple Watch be sure to check out our Apple Watch 3 rumours article.
When? We think September
It might have escaped the attention of many people that 2017 actually marks the 10th anniversary of Apple TV. With this in mind some think that Apple could celebrate the occassion with an update to its little black box.
Whether this is true or not remains a mystery, as there have been very few credible rumours about any new developments inside the Apple campus. Then there’s also the fact that the usual gap between iterations of Apple TV tends to be two or three years.
tvOS was discussed at WWDC 2017, but only very briefly to mention that Amazon Prime Video is finally coming to the set-top box.
When? We think September 2017
Unveiled at WWDC 2017 after months of rumours, Apple’s Siri speaker, which is actually called the HomePod, is coming in December.
Designed in response to the likes of Google Home and Amazon Echo, HomePod is a smart speaker that also sounds brilliant. Apple focused more on sound quality than its smart features in the unveiling of the HomePod, which is an interesting take on things but perhaps we’ll discover more about Siri’s role in the new device as we approach its release date.
Discover more about the HomePod here.
Brand new to the Mac line-up is the iMac Pro, which Apple unveiled at WWDC 2017 but won’t become available to buy until December.
The stunning new device is the most powerful Mac ever made, and it’s still a sleek all-in-one like the iMacs we know. This time, though Apple has opted for the Space Grey colouring, complete with a new Space Grey keyboard, mouse and trackpad.
The specs on the iMac Pro are incredible, particularly if you opt for a built-to-order model. However, with a starting price of £4,449 we think this Mac will appeal to a very select market. Those working with 3D and VR, for example, more more than that this iMac offers a machine that is going to be powerful enough for whatever is next.
You can find out more about what to expect from the iMac Pro here.
The Mac Pro is long overdue a refresh, as it hasn’t been updated since the launch of the ‘trashcan’ Pro model in 2013. The once futuristic device now looks a little long in the tooth, having been bypassed by generations of Intel chips that never made it into the chassis.
We now know that there won’t be a new Mac Pro in 2017, but a new machine is on the horizon.
In April 2017 Apple broke its silence and discussed the Pro’s future with a small group of journalists, first apologising for the lack of updates and then acknowledging that the trashcan design didn’t work out the way it had hoped. The triangular structure that hides inside the cylinder was designed with the thermal requirements of twin-GPU setups in mind, but the industry went in a different direction; most pro users prefer to use a single more powerful GPU, something that the Mac Pro cannot cope with. And so the machine ended up being very difficult to upgrade.
The good news is that Apple is working on what sounds like a radical redesign of its Mac Pro line. The bad news is that this definitely won’t appear this year. In the meantime, the pricing/configurations on the current Pro range have been tweaked so you get more for your money, but it’s still not a particularly appealing deal.
When? We think WWDC 2018 is most likely, but some pundits believe it could be late 2018 or even early 2019
Ah Mac Mini, where did it all go wrong? After being hobbled in 2014 by what can barely be considered an upgrade, Apple has left the Mini to fall fallow. Now we don’t know whether 2017 will see a resurrection of its fortunes, but all here at Macworld are rooting for the little guy.