Apple is said to be introducing an entirely refreshed lineup of Macs later this month. The event is said to be on October 27th, which we first speculated earlier this month. The new Macs are expected to be available to consumers this month, as well. As is often the case with Apple events, we already know a good portion of what the company has up its sleeve. Read on for a roundup of what to expect…
The MacBook Air certainly isn’t expected to be the star of the show this year, but the lineup will receive some attention. It has been reported that Apple will discontinue the 11-inch model in order to direct its attention to the 12-inch MacBook and 13-inch MacBook Air. Some sources, however, have cast doubt as to the likelihood of this happening.
While the overall design of the MacBook Air will remain the same, the machines are expected to be updated with USB-C support, according to a new Bloomberg report. As it seems now, however, the display quality will remain the same. The MacBook Air’s display quality is an aspect that many have called for an upgrade to, but seeing that it’s Apple’s entry-level laptop, the company isn’t looking to give it all of the top-of-the-line features.
Should the 11-inch MacBook Air get discontinued, it’s possible that Apple will cut the price of the 13-inch model, as Ben speculated this morning. The 12-inch MacBook’s price point could also benefit from the death of the 11-inch Air, too. Nevertheless, the MacBook Air clearly won’t be the focal point of this year’s changes, but some upgrades will occur to bring it up to par.
Much like the MacBook Air, the iMac isn’t expected to receive a major overhaul this year, though Apple is planning some under-the-hood changes to keep it somewhat up to date. The biggest change will come to the graphics performance. Apple is said to be planning new options for GPUs from AMD, while other under-the-hood specs will likely also be bumped up. Design and scree specifications are expected to remain the same. The addition of USB-C is also possible.
External 5K Display
Apple officially discontinued its outdated and overpriced Thunderbolt Display earlier this year, paving the way for a newer and more capable model. It is expected that Apple will introduce a new 5K external display at its event this month that also includes a built-in GPU. We first reported on Apple’s plans for a 5K display with an integrated GPU earlier this year.
The display is expected to feature a 5K resolution of 5120 x 2880, while the powerful internal GPU will be able to assist lower-powered Macs in pushing that many pixels. It’s unclear how Apple plans to price its new 5K display, but we should know more following the event next week.
Don’t expect it to be cheap, though, given the $1000 price point of the Thunderbolt Display and the addition of a GPU. One thing to note, however, is that the release date for this display has changed several times already, so it’s possible that Apple has indeed pushed it back again and we won’t see it at this year’s event.
The star of the show this month is widely expected to be the MacBook Pro. Apple’s “Pro” laptop hasn’t seen a major overhaul in 4 years and is well overdue for one, and the company certainly seems to have a lot planned for this year’s refresh. First off, let’s talk design.
The new MacBook Pro is expected to be much thinner and lighter than the current models, though it’s unlikely that they will feature a wedge design like the MacBook Air and 12-inch MacBook. Nevertheless, the overall footprint of the laptop is expected to smaller, while the trackpad will be slightly bigger.
The design changes extend to the port options, as well. The new MacBook Pros will likely ditch all of its traditional ports in favor of USB-C connectivity. MagSafe is also getting the axe this year, as charging can be done via USB-C. The biggest change to the design, however, will be the addition of a new OLED touch display in replace of the standard function keys at the top of the keyboard.
This display is expected to provide quick action buttons for common tasks that vary depending on which app is open. Apple is said to be working with third-party app developers to ensure that a variety of software is optimized for the new touch bar at launch, as well.
Touch ID is also expected to come to the MacBook Pro this year, likely being located on the power button of the machine. While Auto Unlock allows Apple Watch users to unlock their Mac when their Apple Watch is in close proximity, Touch ID will allow for all users to unlock their machine without typing in the actual password.
The MacBook Pro lineup will also get speed boosts under-the-hood. While specifics of the spec upgrades are unclear, Apple is expected to offer one of AMD’s Polaris GPUs and Intel’s Skylake processors. The design of the Polaris GPU is small enough to fit in the smaller footprint of the Pro, while also offering the best combination of power and battery usage.
Another thing we should expect to see at next week’s event is the release of Apple’s truly wireless AirPods, or at least the announcement of an actual release date. At the iPhone 7 event last month, Apple teased that AirPods would be available in late October, but the company has not said anything since. If Apple sticks to its word, then we should expect an AirPods release sooner rather than later.
Odds and Ends
A refresh of Apple’s AirPort accessories isn’t out of the question for this year’s event. The AirPort Express is still stuck on 802.11n, while the AirPort Extreme and Apple’s Mac lineup have been updated to support the newer and faster 802.11ac. So it seems logical for the AirPort Express to finally receive that update.
Additionally, it’s possible that Apple introduces new peripherals, such as a new Magic Keyboard with an OLED touch bar. While it’s unlikely, new colors of the peripherals would likely be met with fanfare, such as rose gold, gold, space grey, and jet black. This is speculative, though, and likely won’t be a big portion of Apple’s announcements.
Mac Pro/Mac Mini (or what not to expect)
The two machines that often feel most neglected by Apple could be headed for the same fate this year. There haven’t been any rumors concerning Apple’s entry-level Mac Mini or its Pro-level Mac Pro. The latter of the two was dramatically overhauled three years ago, but hasn’t seen an update since. The Mac Mini, on the other hand, hasn’t been updated in two years. While minor under-the-hood refreshes aren’t out of the question, it’s unlikely that Apple has anything major planned for the Mac Pro or Mac Mini.
It’s clear that the MacBook Pro and external display will be the star of Apple’s October event this year, and rightfully so. Both are due for their respective upgrades and it sounds as if Apple has quite a bit planned for each. While Apple has not yet sent out press invites for the October 27th event, we should expect them to come at any moment. As always, we’ll have live coverage of Apple’s event as it happens.