WWDC 2018 may not feature major announcements about MacBooks or iPads, but Erik Eckel thinks there could still be big surprises. Here's what business users might hear from Apple's June 2018 event.
Apple's summer Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC), the annual event when the company typically provides important updates and unveils new product and operating system details, sometimes also surfaces surprising innovations. While several announcements are predictable and expected (e.g., hype for the next versions of iOS, watchOS, and macOS), Apple might have a few surprises in store for this year's conference, set for June 4 - 8 in San Jose, CA. Here's what I predict business users can expect from WWDC 2018.
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Minor improvements to MacBooks and MacBook Pros and an updated MacBook Air
Should business users expect an innovative new MacBook Pro with two individual panes of touch-sensitive glass and an iPad-like keyboard instead of the traditional static display and separate physical keyboard and touchpad? Should businesses expect Apple to announce a new line of MacBook laptops that feature Apple-manufactured processors instead of the Intel chips that have powered Macs for more than 10 years? Unfortunately, I think the answer to both questions is no; however, both scenarios are possible and would be surprising,
While it's certainly not as exciting or scintillating as seeing what Apple designers and developers could do with such innovations, I expect Apple will announce more pedestrian improvements to its existing MacBook and MacBook Pro lineups. For example, look for Apple to bump performance by upgrading CPUs in these systems to Intel's 8th generation CPUs. I predict that pricing will largely remain unchanged.
SEE: Top 20 Apple keyboard shortcuts for business users (free PDF) (TechRepublic)
Notice the MacBook Air wasn't included in that description--it's the only MacBook model in Apple's lineup that hasn't been migrated to leveraging Apple's USB-C strategy. A surprise announcement might be that Apple is eliminating the MacBook Air altogether; I think it's more likely Apple will introduce an updated model featuring USB-C connectivity and refreshed CPUs and pricing, which could appeal to business users seeking a replacement 13.3" Mac that's light and fast, boasts considerable battery life, and includes a traditional full physical keyboard.
No major iPad announcements
Apple's education event in March 2018 introduced a new entry-level iPad that includes support for the Apple Pencil; subsequently, I don't expect Apple to announce much regarding its iPad line. Businesses may, however, benefit from higher-end iPad Pro updates, including the incorporation of some of the features that are popular on the iPhone X such as the elimination of the Home button and Face ID authentication. If those updates are announced, I don't expect Apple to raise the corresponding models' prices, so that could prove another boon for business users.
No new models of Apple displays and minor updates to iMacs
Businesses that have desktop Macs in their offices typically choose from Mac minis or iMacs, although the high-end iMac Pro and Mac Pro remain options, too. Certainly, updates to the Mac Pro are overdue, but the iMac Pro's introduction may have tipped Apple's hand as to the strategy of its future high-end desktops.
SEE: Seven things Apple needs to unveil at WWDC 2018 (ZDNet)
This is why I don't expect Apple to surprise some observers by introducing a new model of Apple displays; I believe Apple's already been-there and done-that and will focus future desktop developments on improving its iMacs (which boast integrated displays). So, I predict Apple will announce pedestrian updates to its iMac line at essentially existing price points, and I wouldn't be shocked if the Mac mini were positioned more as an entry-level-only option.
News about streaming services, health/watchOS, iPhone SE, Apple AirPower
Some of the biggest surprises from WWDC 2018 may not hold much business intrigue.
I wouldn't be surprised if Apple announced new streaming services for iTunes and Apple TV users. I also wouldn't be surprised with new health and fitness capabilities being added to new versions of watchOS.
Nor should anyone be surprised if Apple announced a revamped version of the comparably smaller iPhone SE, which is overdue for updating, although my suspicion is most business users needing a new or replacement iPhone will prefer to choose from Apple's existing iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, and iPhone X models, which many reports suggest are not due for updating until Fall 2018.
More information on Apple AirPower is overdue. The wireless charging product will likely only appeal to iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, and iPhone X users, as well as Apple Watch and AirPods aficionados, as the technology is only believed to initially prove compatible with those devices. While such a wireless charging feature might be convenient to business users, it's not the paradigm-changing innovation sometimes associated with Apple special events.
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