2017 has been a hard year for Apple, if the pundits are to be believed. The MacBook Pro was roundly denounced. I've already gone on record with my observations on that machine. Hardly perfect, but really good.
I like mine, though I agree that the keyboard could be better. I am getting awfully tired of the bitching about the USB ports, though. It's annoying to have to buy USB-C cables and dongles, sure, but it's not multiple months of incessant griping a la Andy Ihnatko on MacBreak Weekly. Stuff a sock in it, nerd boy. Switch to Windows already. It's getting old.
The big question before this year's Apple Worldwide Developer Conference will be whether Apple is abandoning its users, the Mac platform, and common sense, or if it will see the light and start producing machines its devoted fan base actually want to use.
I have a few speculations to offer before the keynote. I'll rank them in what I think is the order of probability.
New MacBooks and MacBook Pros with the Kabylake chip. Hopefully a 32 GB model which will shut the "why doesn't my MacBook have more than sixteen gigs of RAM" whiners up. While we're at it, why not a 48 GB and 64 GB model? I don't expect any major architectural changes to the machines themselves. Same four Thunderbolt 3 / USB-C ports, same or better battery life, same options for the Touch Bar. There should be a model for people who use MacBook Pros as desktop replacements, but I would be astonished to see such a thing tomorrow.
Given that Amazon recently announced the Amazon Prime video app will be making its way to Apple TV, I expect a new, faster model with 4K compatibility. Maybe a better way to control other devices in the home entertainment center, too? We can only hope. My 32-bit Logitech Harmony Link app is getting pretty long in the tooth.
New iPads? Check. The 10.5" iPad Pro seems inevitable. An upgraded 12.9" iPad Pro... maybe not so much. I think the 10.5" with slimmer bezels will replace the 12.9" machine. Hopefully it will have an OLED screen, a dark mode (which will increase the power efficiency significantly) and an improved keyboard with an ESC key. But probably not.
A new iOS and macOS are inevitable. I don't expect anything revolutionary this time. Maybe I'm getting blasé. A welcome addition to macOS would be a Home Kit enabled Siri that could actually understand what I say and act on it more than once out of every three tries. And support for multiple user profiles on iOS would be huge.
Speaking of Siri: there's much buzz about Apple releasing a standalone Siri speaker. It makes sense that they'd want to step into this market; the Amazon Echo and Google Home gadgets are very popular. But the Siri rewrite becomes 100% imperative if this rumor turns into reality. Holy crap, I can't think of any reason I'd want one if it did as poor a job at recognizing the meaning behind speech as Siri does now. Maybe Apple just wants to record a bunch of people screaming curses at Siri.
However, there are a lot of rumors that Apple will be going all in on Augmented Reality. If so, they'll need to get the developers revved up on it sooner rather than later. I expect to see a bunch of new frameworks for integrating AR into the Mac and iOS experiences.
If AR is for real, they'll need something to visualize it as well... and not some hokey "clip your iPhone to these goggles" solution a la Samsung's GearVR. They'll need glasses. Apple Glasses. If AR shows up at all, I expect to see Apple's solution, and hopefully it will be both elegant and light-weight. Jony Ive wouldn't stand for something as dorky as Google Glass.
A new Apple Watch? Hmm. My guess is that they're working on new models with medical sensor technology. We might see a demo of that with a prototype, but I think they'll probably hold off until the fall. Gotta have something cool to buy for the holidays. Anyway, Apple Watch intros have historically been in September.
In the interim, I expect there to be up-revved iMacs to bridge the gap. Since announcing existing models with new chips is a pretty low-impact thing to do, I do expect to see these unveiled tomorrow. But I won't be surprised if I don't.
A new Apple Pencil? Maybe one with an eraser? And a better way to clip it to the iPad? We can only hope.
With any luck, we'll also see standalone keyboards with Touch Bar. Based on the schedule I've seen for the conference sessions, Apple believes in the Touch Bar, and I expect to see it on desktops as an option. Hopefully they'll have an extended keyboard with a Touch Bar, too. I haven't found it hugely useful yet, but maybe that will change.
The iPhone 8. No. Stay tuned till September. In fact I expect no phone hardware to be announced at all.
Touch screen Macs. These won't happen until iOS and macOS are blended together completely. In the interim, expect touch solutions to remain wedded to the iPad.
I don't think we'll see a new Mac Pro model. Apple recently had a small press event where they admitted they'd gotten the "Trash Can" model wrong, and that they were rethinking the Mac Pro from the ground up. I expect to see this next year, not this one.
Well, that pretty much wraps up my speculation. I'm looking forward to finding out how wrong I am tomorrow.
Apple... I hope you will surprise me with something really cool and new.