Apple WWDC 2018: What to Expect

<pre>Apple WWDC 2018: What to Expect

The “Apple” Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) is the “DC” part. And no, we're not talking about the municipality, or the comics.

WWDC-which kicks off Monday at the McEnery Convention Center in San Jose, California. The primary focus is on the Apple diaspora of technorati, the content pros, and the decision makers in all for one place for technical sessions and brainstorming over the direction of Apple's software universe in the coming year. (19659002) However, Apple in the past has not been used for the Mac OSOS (Apple MacOS High Sierra and Apple iOS 11, as in 2017), but also for the major hardware moves (tweaked MacBook Air, new iMacs in 2017).

Expect a mix of the two-hardware and software-at the 2018 shindig. Apple is overdue to tune up at least a subset of its laptops. And enough other Apple aircraft are circling the field that any one could make a surprise landing at WWDC. Let's take a quick look at what we expect, category by category.

Laptop Refreshes Part I: MacBook, MacBook Pro

The MacBook, the MacBook Pros, and the MacBook Air holdover- are the hardware that's ripest for change. With all of the mobile CPU changes since Apple's last major laptop refresh in 2017, we'd consider it a disappointment if we did not see at least some action on this front. For an overhaul, our bets are on the MacBook Pro and the MacBook Air.

We'd deem the MacBook ultraportable the least likely to see a major refresh, unless Apple pulled out a rabbit and redesigns the whole thing. That's because its internals are essentially up-to-date (Y-Series 7th Generation Intel processors). Intel's side of the fence for equivalent 8th Generation ultra-low-voltage CPUs. So, at the moment, there is not a lot of incentive, given today's component upgrade cycle, for major MacBook tweakage.

The MacBook Pro-in its 13-inch and 15-inch iterations-is a better candidate for a big update. The two sizes will likely go in different directions. The 13-incher today is the “Coffee Lake” CPUs that would be a big deal; the chip uptick would amount to more than a simple generational bump for performance-minded users. Going from dual-core to quad-core (both with Hyper-Threading) would make a big difference for the multi-threaded content-creation tasks of the kind that keep the Mac faithful exactly that.

As for the 15-inch MacBook Pro, if we see a refresh centered around the core components, we'd expect it to include the option for the 8th Generation Coffee Lake in six-core flavors. (The best you can get in 2017's existing line is a 7th Generation quad-core.) More cores, again, means more joy for content creators. Intel mobile Core i9, but given the lack of action on the discrete-graphics front to complement it, we'd place it on the side instead of on Kaby Lake-G.

The Kaby Lake-G processors are the recent Intel / AMD collaboration that is a quad-core Core i7 on the same die with powerful AMD Radeon RX Vega graphics. That said, the battery-life toll that this chip has levied in shipping models so far (such as the Dell XPS 15 2-in-1) might be a mitigating factor against it showing up in a new MacBook Pro. Still, it's a tempting thought, as on-chip Vega has the potential for different thermal designs and maybe, as a result, a new-look MacBook Pro.

Another new-look opportunity is a redesign spurred by the popularity (or The Laptop Refreshes Part II

The Laptop Refreshes Part II (19659013) The Laptop Refreshes Part II : What About the Air?

Then there's the MacBook Air. This icon is still a popular budget laptop, but the aspects of the design are, here in 2018, downright geriatric by any standard. (We reviewed the 2017 version of the MacBook Air last summer.)

The MacBook Air is huge, and the laptop's last , also known as “Broadwell.” Given the CPUs in the rest of the Apple 2017, the MacBook Air is clearly lagging the Mac pack. The 11.6-inch-screen model is dead, with only the 13-incher holding on.

It's possible Apple MacBook, in the form of a 13-inch-screen MacBook model , or roll out a new, equivalent low-end MacBook to take its place. Ourselves, we'd like to see

  • Slim it down.
  • Reduce the bezels or boost the screen size (or both).
  • Get the core components (CPU, storage ) in the line with 2018 standards, or at least 2017.
  • Update the ho-hum 1.440-by-900-pixel display to a Retina panel.
  • Modernize the physical connectivity, with at least one USB Type-C / Thunderbolt 3 port. (The current model's fastest connector is a fading-in-relevance Thunderbolt 2.)
  • The ARM-based MacBook Air could be in the offing, but a roundtable last year at Cupertino appeared to put the kibosh on that possibility.

    Mac Desktop Tweaks: No Pro, Maybe Mini?

    Apple iMac Pro all-in-one (AIO ), as a counterpart to the cylindrical Mac Pro desktop workstation. The iMac Pro AIO model probably will not refresh at WWDC-its Xeon W processors are not in step with any rumored CPU-update cadence on Intel's part, and the machine is just not that old. However, the more consumer-minded iMac (non-Pro) AIOs could see an iterative move to 8th Generation Kaby Lake-R or Coffee Lake; they relaunched last summer with straight 7th Generation Kaby Lake CPUs.

    We would not expect to hear much, if anything, about the Mac Pro. A deep rethink of the standalone Mac desktop workstation is in the works, TechCrunch reported earlier this year. Any rejiggered Mac Pro is likely to be rolled out until sometime in 2019.

    Then there's the long-running Apple Mac mini, which, in its current form, is running on aging dual-core CPUs and in its base models with traditional hard drive and Fusion Drive storage. It would seem like a good candidate for a hardware refresh-or, for that matter, shipping off to Valhalla. Assuming a Viking funeral is not in the offing, we could well see the Mac mini move to quad- or even six-core CPUs. Also, given the changes in the last couple of years in solid-state storage, we would not be surprised to see a hardware chassis change, made possible by a changeover to highly compact M.2-form-factor solid-state drives, as violated to Apple's long-running Fusion Drive / hard drive approach.

    That's just conjecture based on the times. Still, the Mac mini has been static in recent years, and has been given the radical smallization we've seen in mini-PCs from the likes of Intel in its NUC line of mini-desktops, Apple has the opportunity to make a statement with the long -neglected Mac Mini.

    iPhone, iPad, iOS: Relatively Low Profiles?

    Our lead analyst for mobile, Sascha Segan, .

    Plenty of rumors have circled around a putative “iPhone SE 2,” but WWDC. “That is something that a lot of iPhone lovers have. “But the most recent rumors of the iPhone, as it's 'low-cost' iPhone.”

    The AirPower wireless charging pad that decloaked in 2017 might get a mention; it still has a release date.

    More likely to materialize at iOS 12 release, which, of course, would trickle down to Apple's current mobile devices . Bloomberg reported this week that iOS tweaks this time around the will center on digital health initiatives, including tools for monitoring. (See my recent feature on tech addiction.)

    Upticks to the recent augmented-reality features for iPhone / iPad are also likely to be in the offing, as well as iterative tweaks to video calling and the functionality around Animojis. The Information also reported the likelihood of enhancements to the near-field-communication (NFC) functionality in the late-model iPhones that might enable the chip to work with smart security solutions, such as smart locks, to open doors or vehicles. Many major iOS features, however, will be pushed to 2019, according to the report earlier this year by Ina Fried of Axios.

    As for the iPad, Apple carried out some tweaks to the mainstream this year in Chicago. The refreshed $ 329 iPad will now come in a version geared towards educators that now includes support for the Apple Pencil, and with a $ 30 discount for iPad for schools. It's possible we can see some action on the creator-friendly Apple iPad Pro, but new Apple SoC now.

    Consumer Devices: Apple TV, Beats

    Our senior analyst for consumer electronics, Will Greenwald, does not expect much new on the Apple TV front. Hardware refreshes for Apple TV have traditionally been few and far between, he notes, with the usual cadence for updates being in September, rather than at WWDC.

    That said, Google floated new Android TV / Chromecast hardware at Google I / O , and Apple TV's form factor has been a long-running constant, unlike offerings from Roku, Google, and Amazon, which you can get in stick or dongle form factors. An Apple TV Stick or similar device to replace the non-4K Apple TV would not be a huge surprise. If that's the case, though, Greenwald suggests that any glimpses of development hardware will not be kept on the WWDC big stage.

    As for the long-rumored, white whale of a dedicated Apple TV-a full-on television with Apple-hardware guts-don't hold your breath. Not even the rumor mill has turned up any in inboxes by Apple to secure the production of LCD TVs for TVs, and there is no a precedent for putting tvOS or iOS into third-party hardware. We've put the chances of an Apple-made or -branded TV as highly unlikely (because of the logistics), and of Apple TV hardware in another manufacturer's TV similarly (on the basis of philosophy).

    The rumor mill has, however, bandied about a Beats-branded, possibly Siri-enabled speaker to complement Apple's HomePod in the smart speaker at a lower price point. Will that come to pass? We'll be on the ground at WWDC to check out all the Apple latest-whatever it turns out to be.

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