There will be new iPhones, iPads, Apple Watches, Apple TVs, and Macs. Unless and until Apple drops the mic, peaces out, and goes into the hot tub business, 2018 will bring us updates to most if not all of the products we continue to use and rely on.

But what will those updates be? More importantly, what do we want those updates to be? I have some ideas. I'm not talking rumors. And I'm not getting into the givens. Processors will get better. Power management will — yikes — have to get better as well. Cameras will improve. So will wireless charging.

For this, I'm going to focus not on what Apple's next-generation products will be — but what they could be. Specifically, what I'd like them to be.


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iPhone

iPhone X re-imagined much of what it meant to be an iPhone. It went edge-to-rounded-end and OLED with the display, and ditched the Home button and Touch ID in favor of a new, gesture-based navigation system and Face ID.

For 2018, I'd love to see that design spread out across the line. A 6.x-inch iPhone Plus seems inevitable, but a 4.x-inch iPhone SE-sized version would also win a lot of hearts. Especially if all those screens included ProMo

One the small side, keep it simple. On the Plus side, though. I'd also love to see support for Apple Pencil — more specifically, a shorter Apple Pencil that's better optimized for the relatively smaller size of a 6.x-inch device.

Same with split-view for apps. At a full-screen Plus size, you can start to bring drag-and-drop and picture-in-picture down to the iPhone product line. And built-in, on-device landscape mode CarPlay for those of us who don't have access to the in-dash version.

I'd also love to see Apple switch the included cable to Lightning to USB-C, include a USB-A adapter in the box, and bump up the AC adapter brick while it's at it.

That and take W1 and W2 to the next level with some magical Apple superset of Bluetooth that finally fixes the lag, errors, and annoyances of what should be persistent, power-efficient connectivity. 
 Basically, I just want all my stuff always available without spinners, timeouts, disconnects, or the frequent need to reconnect.

W3 and AppleTalk X. Plus black and Product RED AirPods, of course.

iPad

In 2017, Apple bifurcated the iPad product line. The company made an iPad Air 1.5 meets iPad Air 2.5 at the low end for those who wanted an inexpensive app, video, and internet device, and expanded to a 10.5-inch model on the high end for those who wanted a slightly roomier Pro.

This year, I'd love to see Apple continue to knock the air out of the cheap — and mostly terrible — low-end tablet market by continuing to cut base-level iPad pricing as much as possible.

At the same time, three years post-iPad Pro, and over half-a-decade since the original iPad mini introduced the current iPad design language, I'd love to see some evolution there as well.

OLED supplies might still be constrained. Bezels might not be able to disappear as entirely on tablets the way they can on phones, and Face ID is still getting started. but something that brings iPhone X flavor to iPad Pro would be great.

So would iCloud Accounts, for home and professional environments where you have to share devices. And mass storage device support, for home and professional environments where you still have to sneakernet files.

I'd also love to see a second-generation Smart Keyboard. One with a capacitive surface that could mimic the functionality of iOS trackpad mode and pass through tap events so, when your fingers on on the keyboard, they can stay on the keyboard — at least far more often.

Apple Watch

LTE has set the Apple Watch free. Mostly. With Series 3 we got a half-step towards true device independence but it was an incredibly important half step. (Most of the time, these days, I go out with a phone on one network and a watch on another and mostly forget the odd situation Canadian carriers have forced me into.)

What I do still notice is my Apple Watch not telling time unless I turn or tap it, and the awkward attention that draws to my wanting to know the time. In previous years, Apple has spent the Watch's battery budget on accelerating apps and adding LTE. This year I'd love them to spend it adding persistent, ambient time.

Sure, an iPhone X-style display that filled more of the surface area would be nice, but a low power watch face that always let me know the time at glance would be terrific.

So would moving VIP out of Mail and into Contacts, or more granular notification controls in general, so I could make sure the people lighting up my Apple Watch are only the people I want lighting up my Apple Watch, regardless of whether they're sending email, messages, Tweets, Snaps, or whatever.

I'd also love to see more intelligence and dynamics added to complications. The Siri watch face is interesting, but the ability to add a dynamic complication slot to any watch face, one that would pull in Calendar, or Lyft, or weather alerts, or new messages, or whatever else was the most time, location, and context-appropriate would be hugely valuable.

Plus whatever new workouts and health detection technology Apple can manage to fit into the Watch. that's where it becomes invaluable.

Apple TV

Apple TV is now 4K and HDR — including Dolby Vision — for those who've already begun updating to the next generation of television. Still no Dolby Atmos, though, so our ears can't yet be as bleeding-edge as our eyes. Apple reportedly said it was coming. Hopefully soon.

iTunes has also done a terrific job cajoling studios into releasing and upgrading content in 4K HDR — especially Dolby Vision — and along with Netflix, Amazon, and 10-bit HEVC encoding, has pretty much solved the problem of getting movies and TV shows onto the box.

TV.app has also begun expanding to more and more countries. I still have a love/hate relationship with it. Apple hasn't been able to get Netflix integrated, which is a bummer. And the user experience melts down quickly if you want to watch anything other than what's cued up or suggested for you.

It's a good start but I'd love to see Apple invest the will and resources to make it a truly great experience. Crack that interface!

Likewise games. Apple made a huge mistake requiring the Siri remote at launch. It caused studios that might have come on gamepad only to take a wait-and-see approach that's left all of us still waiting.

My beautiful dream remains this: Get the big classic gaming companies to make retro controllers bundled with their most beloved catalog titles. Sega could be a start. Nintendo the end game. Switch is awesome but NES and SNES and even N64 controllers and games would let you still have that physical connection to Nintendo hardware, even as Apple handled getting all the bits up onto the TV.

I'd settle for a re-imagined, far more delightful Siri remote and first-party Apple gamepad. And some first party Apple games. With Eddy Cue's org getting into the TV business, there's no longer any artificial focus-driven reason to exclude exclusive gaming from the mix. Especially since it could all tie together into the AR/VR future Apple is already racing towards.

MacBook

When Apple introduced its ultra-light laptop it came with many compromises in terms of power and ports. A couple of years later those compromises disappeared and it became not only the most flexible MacBook ever, but one of the least expensive. Oh, and every other vendor in the industry raced to copy it.

I'm talking about the wedge version of the MacBook Air, of course, which not only informed all of Apple's laptops for years, it informed all laptops for years.

We're now three years post-12-inch MacBook and while it's clearly helped mold the current generation of MacBook Pro, it hasn't really done much else.

It's still constrained to one USB-C port. It's still throttled by Intel's Core M (no one is fooled by the new branding, Intel. No one.) And it's still expensive enough Apple has to keep the old MacBook Air in the lineup.

I'd love MacBook to get its wedge redesign moment. Keep the Retina display, of course, but make that USB-C also Thunderbolt 3 and put one on either side. Then toss a USB-A adapter in the box. (Being able to charge from either side is one of the biggest small wins of the higher-end new MacBook Pro design.)

And then figure out how to start moving it all down to the $999 price point. (Everything is easy when all you have to do is blog it and not actually engineer and sell it, right?)

I'm not advocating for a clamshell that runs iOS on Apple's A-series ARM processors — though every time my MacBook sees my iPad Pro I can hear Core M sobbing inside — since I'd rather see iPad continue to expand up than MacBook force its way down.

But I am advocating for a MacBook that's as cutting edge as an iPad in every way possible, including price.

MacBook Pro

Confession: I kind love the new MacBook Pro. I've been using one since launch and every time I have to go back to my previous MacBook Pro — the one I never moved my VPN connection over from — I simply don't enjoy it as much.

But I'm not everyone and my needs aren't everybody's and when you have so many people who've loved Apple for so long hating — truly hating — on the current MacBook Pro, something's gotta give.

Throw a USB-A adapter in the box (my answer to everything, I've noticed you noticing) and the port pain should lessen. The butterfly keyboard, especially given the anecdotal accounts of its failure rate, needs to be reconsidered. Magic Keyboard style reconsidered.

That and MacBook Pro now needs its own version of iMac Pro. A MacBook Pro Pro, if you will. It's fine that there's a cheaper, less capable version of MacBook Pro at the bottom end for people who really just wanted a Retina Air (and/or physical escape key). But I'd love to see a beefier, more capable, more Dolby Vision version of MacBook Pro at the top end as well for people who really want an iMac Pro — only portable. Ish.

There would have to be sacrificed to weight and battery life — Apple can't use ultra-mobile, ultra-lower power versions of chips Intel hasn't yet shipped — but for a certain segment of professionals, that — and the extra few thousand added to the tag — would be a price they're willing to pay for better graphics and obscene amounts of RAM.

Touch Bar and touch screens are more of a challenge. Microsoft's mobile efforts failed repeatedly so it made sense for them to invest the years-in-the-desert that was Windows 8 to come out the other side with touch-capable PCs. Apple already has a touch-first operating system with IOS. It makes little sense to divert resources into retro-fitting all of that into macOS.

That's why I continue to wonder if a half-step wouldn't be leap enough: Enable gesture navigation on screen, but that's it. Let people flick to scroll, pinch to zoom, swipe to switch, tap to launch, and all the other gross movements, and leave the rest of the interface, tiny-targeted as it is, alone.

Would it be enough? I'd have to try it to know for sure. But as the touch-first, iPad raised generation comes of age, they'll expect every screen to be like the screens they grew up on. They'll consider them broken if they're not.

And, as much as I like Touch ID on Mac, I'm ready for Face ID on everything.

Mac Pro

I'm skipping over iMac because it just went Pro. Now it's Mac Pro's turn to regain its crown.

Apple was unusually candid and forthcoming last year: Painted into a thermal corner by the previous, triangle-within-a-cylinder design, Apple was busting through the wall to make a new, modular Mac Pro and Pro display to go with it.

My only wish here is that whatever the new Mac Pro turns out to be, it's in the spirit of the previous Mac Pro tower. That old cheese-grater was a miracle of modular design. You could access and alter almost every component quickly, easily, and almost completely without tools. It was genius. Heavy. But genius.

If Apple can bring multiple SSD bays, upgradeable RAM and graphics card slots, and a smorgasbord of ports, legacy and new, and maybe even make it all somehow rack-mountable, then Apple will make its small — but oh, so passionate and loud — contingent of ultra-pros, ultra-happy.

Especially if that Pro Display is Dolby Vision. And there's very low-end modular version that replaces the Mac mini. You know, before Apple ships an ARM mini at the ultra low end.

Just saying.