It’s September, so we all know what that means? Its the annual iPhone Keynote, where we are set to see quite a lot of evolution rather than revolution this time round, but what exactly should we expect to see?
USB-C / Thunderbolt
Wether its solely down to EU legislation which comes into force next year, or a somewhat drawn out transition across all of Apple’s devices, this year will see all iPhones transition from Lightning to USB-C. Unlike when the iPhone transitioned from the 30 Pin Dock Connector to Lightning with the iPhone 5 in 2012, I’m expecting much less of an uproar as USB-C has become the standard charging port for devices and most people already have a charger.
The USB-C port on the iPhone 15 is set to keep the same USB 2.0 speed of the current iPhones which maxes out at 480 Mbps, while the iPhone 15 Pro will feature Thunderbolt/USB 4 speed allowing for up 40 Gbps, which will make moving large amounts of data back and forth such as 4K Videos a lot less painful.
All of the iPhone are set to come with braided colour matched USB-C cables, but somewhat ironically the iPhone Pro will not come with a Thunderbolt cable, you will have to pay extra for that!
The iPhone has feature a Ring/Silent switch since it was introduced in 2007, and this year it is set to be replaced with an Action button. Although the default action will still be muting the iPhone, it will be customisable like the Apple Watch Ultra’s Action button, with a number of out of the box options including running a Siri Shortcut.
The iPhone Pro has featured a surgical grade stainless steel band since the iPhone X was introduced in 2017, and this year it is set to be replaced with aerospace grade titanium. Titanium will offer a different look to stainless steel with a reduction in the bezel size around the display, and the brushed finished will thankfully be much less of a finger print magnet. More significantly as most people keep their phones in cases, is that it will be much lighter, although not as light as aluminium bands found in the no Pro models.
The Dynamic Island that was introduced last year on the iPhone 14 Pro, is set to be made available across the entire line. There won’t be any physical changes, but the increased availability across will hopefully see more functionality unveiled in the future and greater adoption.
The iPhone Pro Max this year, which is set to be renamed to iPhone Ultra, will see it differentiation itself form the smaller iPhone Pro by making use of its size to incorporate a periscope lens, which will double the optical zoom of the telescope camera to 6x.
The iPhone 15s will support Qi2 charging, which like MagSafe uses magnets for alignment to enable 15W Wireless charging. Not to be outdone, the iPhone 15s will support up to 20W wireless charging using MagSafe, and while this is backwards compatible with the current generation of MagSafe in terms of accessories it will the require purchasing of new chargers.
To coincide with the iPhone’s all moving to USB-C the AirPods Pro 2 will be refreshed with a new USB-C charging case, but there won’t be a revision to the AirPods Pro themselves.
The Apple Watch and Apple Watch Ultra are set to receive only a SoC update this year to the S9 (the first real update in terms of CPU cores since the Apple Watch Series 6 was introduced in 2020), with the Apple Watch Ultra also gaining a black titanium option.
It has been nearly 9 months since Apple last held a keynote in September last year for the iPhone, and this keynote is set to be a tale of what is or isn’t announced in terms of AR/VR and AI.
Reality Pro and realityOS
The persistent rumours of an Apple Headset have increased in intensity over the last 12 months, and unlike the the rumour of an Apple TV or Car this product appears to not be vaporware. The most pertinent rumour recently has been that with a bill of materials for the headset costing upwards of $1500, meaning that the retail price it is expected to be in the region of $2999. That being said with WWDC being a developer conference, I expect what we will see unveiled and made available only to be the developer kit, which means Apple wouldn’t need to divulge pricing information until closer to its release to the public.
The headset is set to feature a micro-OLED 4K display per eye and will be driven by the same M series chips found in Macs, giving it enough power to deal with and switch between both AR/VR experiences responsively. To enable mix reality experiences the headset will features over a dozen cameras and sensors to scan the environment, read facial expressions and detect movement.
The headset’s strap will be made out of the same Fluoroelastomer material as the Apple Watch Sports Bands, most controversially and very un-Apple like is the fact that the headset is set to be powered by an external battery pack. The trade off being the battery life can stretch to over 2 hours while maintain a sensible weight and therefore comfort of the headset for extended periods of use.
I expect to see another push for SwiftUI based development, with it being the defacto way you build realityOS experiences. It is however expected that iPad apps will be able to be used within the context of the mix reality world manifested by the headset, with what would be the on screen pointer of the iPad being controlled by gestures.
The MacStudio was released in March last year featuring either and M1 Max or exclusively an M1 Ultra Chip. Soon after in July Apple revamped the MacBook Air with an all new industrial design and an M2 Processor. Subsequently the Mac minis and MacBook Pros were updated in January, which saw the introduction of the M2 Pro and M2 Max Chips. This has lead to Apple’s most expensive machine being the only one left using the older M1 series chips (well if we choose to ignore the Mac Pro which is still on Intel Processors!).
The MacS tudio is expected to be updated with the M2 Max and the newly unveiled M2 Ultra Chips, with minimal improvements elsewhere .. but we can hope they fix the whiny power supply!
The final Mac that was proclaimed to be “for another day” last WWDC, the Mac Pro, still hasn’t made the jump to Apple Silicon, and unless all of the rumours about a headset has meant that an updated Mac Pro has flown under the radar, I wouldn’t expect to see it at this event.
iOS, iPadOS and macOS
Major updates for Apple’s flagship OSs this year are set to be few and far between. iOS is set to gain a nightstand mode for iPhone, where it can display glanceable information while on a nightstand.
The Dynamic Island introduced last year on the iPhone Pro is going to be rolled out across more devices inSeptember, so in iOS 17 the capabilities of the dynamic island are set to be expanded.
The iPad is set to gain Widgets on its Home Screen, with the introduction of limited interactivity on both the iPhone and iPad. The iPad is also set to have Health app being made available for the first time, alongside the annual update of new tracking categories such as recording a users mood.
One feature that is set to be released all OSs is a journaling app, which will not only allow you to capture your own textural thoughts about the day but pull in various pieces of information that your Apple devices already know about the you and the day such as weather, workouts and location.
watchOS 8 is set to be the most significant OS update this year and the biggest watchOS update since… well if we are being honest besides the removal of quick access to friends from the side button and accommodating the removal of Force Touch, watchOS hasn’t had much of an update since its introduction.
The major change will see watchOS move to a more Widget based approach, giving more glanceable access to information than complications without the overhead of launching full watchOS apps which can be quite slow an cumbersome.
The tech industry has been focused on AI the last few months, starting off with Stable Diffusion and more recently ChatGPT. The obvious AI inclusion in the Keynote would be introducing it to Xcode in the form of code analysis and generation, but I don’t expect to see that.
I’m sure when Siri is demoed it will now be framed as AI rather than just a voice assistant, but I think the bigger focus will be on the privacy benefits of running machine learning models locally on device rather than on a server. After all this the area Apple is uniquely positioned to own unlike server side AI, and they have already optimised Stable Diffusion for Apple Silicon
It is that time of the year again where Apple unveil its flagship phones, but for the first time in a while there is set to be major difference in the upgrades between the iPhone and iPhone Pro lines. The iPhone Pro is set to get possibly its most significant update to date, while on the over hand the iPhone is set to get one of the most modest updates that it has seen for a while.
iPhone Pro and Pro Max
Last year the iPhone 13 Pro displays were upgraded to a Pro Motion display allowing it dynamically refresh from 10hz to 120hz, while all other iPhone display are locked in at 60hz. This year, the iPhone 14 Pros are set to have their displays update so they able to refresh at as low as a rate as one 1hz, and like the Apple Watch since Series 5 that already supports this, it will allow for an always on display without a significant impact on battery life. During WWDC this year Apple already showed off the new customisation options for the Lock Screen, including Lock Screen Widgets. The always on display will allow these to be constantly visible but as with complications on the Apple Watch these will be severely limited in how often they can fresh.
The iPhones Pro will also ditch the notch for a hole punch camera and Face ID Sensors, which despite taking up less screen space, will actually mean that the usable and uninterrupted screen under the camera and sensors will start further down the display. It will certainly look more modern and act as a stepping stone towards eliminating the interruption to the display, but in terms of functionality and userbility it isn’t going to make any difference.
The rear camera of the iPhone Pro is set to be upgraded from 12 MP to 48 MP, which although on paper is a 4x bump, it will utilises pixel binning to output a a more detailed 12 MP image than you would get from the existing sensor rather than a larger image.
iPhone and iPhone Max
The iPhone 12 and and iPhone 13 both saw an iPhone mini in their line up, but due to sales numbers this time round this will be dropped for an iPhone Max model, feature a larger display 6.7 inch display (the mini was 5.4 inch and the regular iPhone is 6.1 inch). Other than this the iPhone and iPhone Max will essentially be the same as last year, to the point that they won’t even see an upgraded SOC and will still be using the A15 chip from last year.
Apple Watch Series 8
Rumours are thin on the ground with the only significant update is set to be introduction of a temperature sensor, but like the oxygen sensor introduced in the Series 6 the accuracy will mean that it can’t be backed up with any medical claims.
Apple is however expected to release an Apple Watch Pro, and although it will not exclusively to be marketed as a sport watch, it will predominately be aimed at customers currently served by Garmin. The Apple Watch Pro will feature the same SOC as the rest of the lineup, but will feature a 47mm display, 2mm more than the largest non pro Apple Watch, which beyond the extra screen real estate it will allow for significantly longer battery life, which is perfect for longer workouts or going multiple days without a charge.
Air Pods Pro
The Air Pods Pro haven’t been refreshed since their introduction in 2019, which means there is a significant number of people who have Air Pods Pro with next to no battery life, all of which are in the market for a refreshed model.
The Air Pods Pro are expected to receive a modest update, but the most exciting prospect will be the possibility of enabling lossless audio by using UWB.
The major topic of conversation in the lead up to WWDC, was will any of it be live? Will this one day format featuring the Keynote, State of the Union and Apple Developer Awards be the way WWDC is run going forwards? I guess we won’t know until next year, but it looks like we have a few things to look forward to this year too!
The majority of rumours around updates to iOS this year focus on support for the rumoured forthcoming iPhone Pro. The iPhone Pro is set to move from the notch to dual hole punch camera and sensor, in addition to receiving an upgrade to its Pro Motion display. Last year the iPhone’s Pro displays were updated to support 120hz, but this year they will also be updated to throttle down all the way to 1hz like the Apple Watch, enabling an always on display without the draw back of significant power consumption. To make use of this I am expecting to see improvements to the lock screen, notifications and widgets, to bring the experience closer to using watch complications.
The major area holding back iPadOS from being the computer for the rest of us, is its lacklustre support for multitasking and larger external displays. Now that both the iPad Air and iPad Pro now have the same internals as the MacBook Air and iMac, with the M1 SOC, and indeed a USB-C port, it’s certainly isn’t the hardware that is holding it back.
This year I expect to see iPadOS get full external display support beyond just mirroring , allowing unrelated windows to be spread across both the internal and external display. I would be surprised to see the ability overlap windows like macOS, but if this is limited to when connected to a keyboard and trackpad it is a possibility.
Information regarding this years macOS update is few and far between, but with the transition to Apple silicon occupying a number of Apple’s engineers for the last few years maybe this will be a small release, with mainly cosmetic changes and the migration of more apps from iOS using Catalyst and SwiftUI.
New and updated watch faces, new workout types … isn’t that what we get most years?
Shortcuts in reality was the biggest change to macOS last year, and indeed it’s becoming more and valuable on iOS as its triggers and actions our expanded. I expect shortcuts to see a number of improvements, with the ability to run them globally using a keyboard short cut on both macOS and iPadOS being top of my wishlist.
HomeKit and homeOS
The HomeKit ecosystem isn’t as large as either or Amazon’s or Google’s, but I’m a big fan of its reliability and local network support, and for the couple of devices I have purchased that don’t support HomeKit I have managed to bridge them across using Homebridge. That being said, the Home app is cumbersome to navigate, taking way to many to interactions to find anything, so if the device you are looking for isn’t in the current screen you end up feeling frustrated or having to ask Siri, which isn’t always an option, but to be fair has been reasonably reliable whenever I use it.
Moreover with the imminent launch of Matter (it has been imminent for a while now, with support for it present in the HomePod mini and iOS 15) it feels like Apple are going to double down on the Home and try and use its privacy focus to regain some ground on its compertion .
I expect to see support for more device types, with additional support in shortcuts.
Will they or won’t? If they do, will the initial version be aimed at consumers or priced as developer preview? On the latter question, I don’t think its Apple’s style to release something priced prohibitively so the majority of their customers can’t afford it. On the flip side. making it available exclusively to developers, akin to a transition kit might makes sense for a new hardware category, although they didn’t for the Apple Watch or iPad. That being said, I think we are still too early, although I would expect to see additional AR features announced and be available to developers in the latest versions of iOS and iPadOS.
WWDC has leant heavily into it being a developer conference for the last few years, with announcements focusing on the software ecosystem. The exception to this rule is the Mac Pro, which Apple already alluded to during the last keynote that it is the final Mac yet to be updated to Apple Silicon. I would expect to see an unveiling of the new Mac Pro as a bit of crowd pleaser at the event, with a release at the end of the year. The Mac having made to Apple silicon first, namely the MacBook Air, will have to wait too later in the year for a hardware refresh.
SwiftUI on paper is great, in fact if all you are doing is simple bits of UI it is. The problem is as soon as you step outside of its comfort zone you end up having to drop back to the platform libraries, which always feels in elegant even if you are only trying to support 1 platform. Moreover, even thought SwiftUI encourages small views, the way you structure apps, in particular navigation, means you end up with a heavily intertwined app akin to the Storyboard UI approach that proceeded it. This isn’t so bad for a solo developer working on an app with 20 screens, but a team of 10 working on 100 screens … that’s not so fun.
I am expecting SwiftUI to receive a major update to help iron out a number of the edges, in addition to improving the tooling in general … and not making macOS development with SwiftUI feeling like an after thought.
In what will be the earliest keynote a year for Apple since 2012, where in the March Apple announced the third generation iPad (the iOS device that holds the record of having shortest life span at only 221 days), we are set to have an Apple event with a number revisions to popular hardware.
Lets run down what could be unveiled from most to least likely!
The iPhone SE will see its third revision, gaining 5G support at the same time where some carriers are starting to turn off their 3G Networks. Other than updating the radios and processor the updates to the iPhone SE will be modest, with continuing to lack Face ID or a multi camera array which the iPhone and iPhone Pro have, in addition their rounded edge to edge display.
The current generation of the iPad Air was met with great reception upon its release in October 2020, at that time feeling like the only compromise when compared to the smaller iPad Pro was Face ID vs the Touch ID side button. Since then Apple have differentiated the iPad Pro with the M1 Chip and Mini LED Display, and have refreshed the cheaper iPad mini. This update will see the iPad Air refreshed to the A15 chip and like the iPhone SE also incorporate 5G.
The fifth generation Mac mini containing the M1 chip has been available since November 2020, but due to its relatively low RAM ceiling of 16GB Apple has continued to sell the fourth generation Intel Mac minis originally released in 2018.
This update will see the Mac mini support the M1 Pro and M1 Max chips that were made available in the MacBook Pro last year, and although a chassis redesign isn’t completely off the cards I would imagine we will have to be satisfied with just he option of picking Silver or Space Grey.
A revamped Mac mini seems like the perfect time to announce a stand alone display, with a price point more accommodating than the Pro Display XDR. The Pro Display will continue to be the only display sporting a 6K display, but a 27 inch 5K Mini-LED around $1000 appears to be on the cards … but would Apple want to wait until the same display is available in a larger iMac …
There are a number of rumours circulating that Apple will use this event to update the MacBook Air and MacBook Pro with Touch Bar to an M2 Chip. In my personal opinion it would seem strange to do this before the M1 transition has completed (although I’m sure in the future chips revisions won’t overlap cleanly), as we are still waiting for the large iMac and Mac Pro to make the jump across to Apple Silicon. Moreover the MacBook Pro with Touch Bar feels like it is only there to hit a price point, so it would feel strange for Apple to give it much attention unless was receiving a major revamp of its own to better define its role in the lineup, which I don’t see happening!
One month after this years iPhone and Apple Watch Keynote, we are now set to see the developer’s machine of choice, the MacBook Pro, get a revamp. With all of the different possibilities what changes should we be expect to see with this update?
New Apple Silicon Chip
The MacBook Pro is set to be the first hardware upgraded to the second generation Apple Silicon processor, dubbed the M1X. The major change will see the RAM ceiling raised from 16 GB, and the number of high performance cores, known internally as Firestorm, increase up from the for 4 currently found in the M1 Chip.
The bare minimum I would expect to see was a double of both the RAM and Performance cores, but with the current 16” MacBook Pro topping out at 64GB of RAM we might be set for a quadrupling of RAM if not CPU performance.
Mini LED Display
Apple’s first product to move to a next generation display was actually the original Apple Watch in 2015, which was Apple’s first device to feature and OLED display. The iPhone followed suit with the iPhone X in 2017, with the entire flagship line migrating across to OLED displays last year. This year Apple have adopted another display technology, Mini LED, in the latest revision of 13” iPad Pro.
The Mac isn’t particular suited to having an OLED display, due to the screen being on for extended periods of time with fixed UI elements being on screen such as the dock and the menu bar, which could create issues with burn in which OLEDs do suffer. Despite Mini LED being the natural choice for the next generation of displays for Macs, they are still much more expensive and harder to produce than LCD displays, so this will probably be a year too early for this change.
All of the other Pro Products, that being the iPhone and the iPad, all feature dynamic refresh displays capable of topping out at 120 Hz, so having the MacBook Pro support this with either an LED or Micro LED Display seems like a formality at this point.
SD Card Slot
A focus of this update is likely to be that MacBook is going to be more pro focussed, and adding back the SD Card Slot shows that Apple are willing to concede that having more than 4 USB-C Points is a positive.
USB-C has been a great way to charge MacBook Pros since their introduction, not only has the connector become the defect standard so there is usually one around (like a Nokia charger in the UK at the turn of the century), but it also offered the flexibility of being able to charge the MacBook Pro from any of the ports, on both sides.
I am expecting USB-C charging to remain, but with the addition of a magnetic charging port, as let’s be honest it was something that they should have never got rid of and I might have had a few lucky escapes tripping over the charging cable in the years since.
Like the SD Card slot, lots of people missed the HDMI slot when it was removed mainly due to the ease of connecting a cable to present onto a larger screen. Even now presenting using the myriad of web based solutions that have been common place in the last 2 years still often leading to laggy and glitchy experience (those fancy Keynote transitions don’t look so good at 3 frames a second), but I think with distributed teams and therefore presentations becoming the norm, this might be one port to far to see added back.
Removal of the Touch Bar
The Touch Bar is an odd one, and to be honest I personally a fan of it, but the fact remains Apple have essentially ignored it since it was introduced in 2016. The biggest surprise was that it was still present on the 14” Apple Silicon MacBook Pro Introduced last year, as that would have required effort to make it work with the main ARM processor and not the dedicated coprocessors compared to when it was used in an Intel Mac. That all being said ether they either need to double down or get rid of the Touch Bar, and I think this even will signal the later.
New External Display
The options for Mac customers who want Thunderbolt connectivity and a Retina Screen have essentially just become the $5000 XDR, with LGs Ultra Fine displays becoming impossible to find. I would Apple to unveil a 5K Mini LED Monitor for around $2000 when the laptops make the jump, but as that is unlikely this time round we are likely to be left a bit longer waiting for a standalone display.
Last year we were treated to 3 Keynotes in the run up to the holidays and it looks like we are in for something similar this time round do too, but this time the iPhone Keynote has made its way to the front of the queue.
Last year saw a redesign of the iPhone and iPhone Pro to the flat side aesthetics which are taking over Apple’s hardware lineup. This year the iPhone will get its “S Cycle” update, although probably named the iPhone 13, keeping external changes to a minimum with new camera array and a slightly smaller notch. The sensor-shift image stabilisation which was exclusive to the iPhone Pro Max last year, will make its way across to the whole iPhone lineup this time, with the iPhone Pro Max also having sensor-shift stabilisation on the wideangle lense.
The iPhone is set to gain a Promotion display which will not only top out at 120hz for silky smooth scrolling, but also throttle down to 1hz to preserve battery life and possible enable an always on dimmed display like the Apple Watch.
The Apple Watch has remained pretty much unchanged externally since its release in 2015, besides when it received a size bump from 38mm and 42mm to 40 and 44mm respectively with the Series 4 in 2018. The Series 4 incorporated a larger display that also pushed the pixels closer to the edges of the watch, but despite the physical size increase this change was barley noticeable when the screen was off. This year the Apple Watch is set to gain the defacto flat sides found on the iPhone, iPad Pro and iPad Air, which will also see the case sizes bump up 1mm to 41 and 45mm. As with the last case update, the screen will be pushed even further towards the edge of the display, so the gain in screen real estate will be greater than the 1mm bump would suggest.
The iPad mini is also set to get the flat side treatment and look like a Mini version of the iPad Air released last with Touch ID in the Side Button, support for the second generation Apple Pencil and A14 Chip. Like the iPad Air I would expect to see the iPad mini suffer from a bit of a price bump as it distances itself from the bottom of the lineup.
The iPad is set to be updated its 9th revision and incorporate the A13 processor and finally gain a laminated display. The iPad will however keep the its current exterior design with Touch ID in the Home Button and support for the original Apple Pencil. It will also remain the only iPad to still be using lightning.
AirPods are set to see their third revision and gain a design much closer to the AirPods Pro with smaller steams but lacking the rubber ear tips and therefore echo cancellation of the AirPod Pros. Internally I would expect the AirPods 3 to have improved range and battery life when compared to their predecessor but nothing that would make it an instant upgrade … unless your batteries have gone!
iOS 15 was unveiled at WWDC in June, but has since seen a lot of the features originally announced either taken out with each beta or never make an appearance to begin with. The most substantial feature that is still left in is Focus (think Home, Work, Driving etc), which essentially allows for different profiles (reminds me of my Nokia 3210) with different settings for things such as notifications.
Unlike last year where iOS 14 was released with 24 Hours notice, I expect iOS 15 to be released on Wednesday next week.
Back into its more familiar early June time slot, albeit still remote this year, WWDC is set to see some hardware unveiled as well as the usual plethora of OS updates, but what exactly should we be looking for?
The biggest change to iOS this year is set to be around notifications, with the introduction of Profiles (ahhhh early 2000s features phone lovers rejoice), to have different prioritisation for notifications based on the current context e.g. no emails out side of working hours, no notifications while driving etc.
In addition to Safari pointing out what trackers it has blocked, iOS 15 is set to become more privacy conscious and point out when apps are also doing app tracking, and working around app transport transparency system that was introduced last month.
iOS is set to have a few small UI tweaks, such as how the Navigation Bar transitions on scroll, but the majority of these will come along for free for those using system UI components.
iPad OS didn’t get much love last WWDC, having seen the Magic Keyboard introduced earlier in the year, which meant a revamp to keyboard and more significantly cursor support in a mid cycle update. Now that the iPad Pro features the exact same internals as all the currently available Apple Silicon Macs, one would expect this years iPad update to be a significant one.
The low hanging fruit is a revamp to the widget system which until has be restricted to the left hand panel of the Home Screen. Like the iPhone on iOS 14, I would expect the iOS 15 to allow widgets to be placed anywhere on the Home Screen in a variety of sizes.
In addition to this an overhaul to multitasking and external displays is also desperately need, but I would expect to see minor tweaks rather than an overhaul to these.
macOS will see its now normal annual update, but unlike last years major UI revamp, expect this year to be a refinement year, with the major changes coming with improvements to Catalyst and SwiftUI.
watchOS will naturally inherit the notification improvements from iOS, but what is rumoured is the ability to create Watch Faces using SwiftUI, using the resource efficient architecture that Widgets now use.
MacBook Pro 16
The MacBook Pro 16” is set to be the next Mac to make the transition across to Apple Silicon, and with it being the developer’s laptop of choice, unveiling it at WWDC seems like an obvious choice. Unlike the MacBook Pro 13 that came out last year, this update to the 16” is set to be a ground up revamp, losing the TouchBar and gaining HDMI port. Most surprisingly will be the return of not only an SD Card slot and return of the MagSafe. More significantly this will be the first device to feature the M1X processor, double the top end specs which most significant will allow for 32GB of RAM … aka enough for Xcode, iPhone Simulator and Slack.
AR / VR Headset
Despite the ongoing rumors, and
Tim Cook’s Apple’s obvious interest in this area, I wouldn’t be expecting to see any AR or VR related headset unveiled at WWDC this year, but I wouldn’t mind being surprised!
After Apple having 3 keynotes in 3 months at the tail end of last year, we now have our first keynote of 2021 but what is set to be unveiled?
The iPad Pro got a rather lacklustre upgrade last spring, moving from the A12X to A12Z processor, in addition to the inclusion of the LiDAR scanner. This time around both the 11 and 12.9 inch iPad Pros are set to move to the A14X processor, a variant on the iPhone 12’s processor, in addition to a better camera and USB 4 port enabling faster I/O and the ability to drive larger displays. The cellular models of the iPad are also going to make the jump to 5G to enable faster networking, which might be more useful now that the world is starting to open up again.
The 12.9 inch iPad is also set to gain a Mini-LED display, gaining better contrast while still maintaining the high refresh rate the the current iPhone’s OLED display lacks.
Apple announced support for third party support in the find my app last week, so if we where ever going to get the vapourware that is AirTags this would be the event to see them get unveiled.
The iconic white earphones included with every iPod lives on nearly 20 years later, in the form of AirPods and AirPods Pro. This revision of the AirPods is set to have a slight design tweak to look like its Pro sibling with smaller stalks, while still omitting the rubber tips and active Echo cancellation.
The iPad mini is set to be updated to match the iPad Air’s design, with reduced bezels, rounded display and a Touch ID home button. This significant update will likely see the iPad mini’s price increase to be closer to that of the iPad Air’s, which will probably limit the appeal of this update.
Being the developers Mac of choice, the Apple Silicon update of the 16" MacBook Pro is destined to unveiled at WWDC in June, which leads the iMac having not had a significant update for more than a decade the obvious candidate to be announced at this event. Which leads us to the question of wether the M1X/M2 is ready to enable more I/O? Without it, I still feel an update to the smaller iMac is on the cards, with a completely refreshed design.
iOS 14.5 has been in beta since February, and contains the infamous ATT (Ad Tracking Transparency) pop ups. This requires apps to request a user’s permission in order to use IDFA (Identifier for Advertisers) which enables cross app tracking. One would think that this controversial change is the major hold up to its release, or a delayed hardware release such as the aforementioned iPad Pro, but this OS update also includes the ability to unlock automatically using and already unlocked Apple Watch when wearing a mask.
I would expect iOS 14.5 to have its release date announced for laster this week.
Apple’s 3rd Keynote in 3 months, which is their 4th and most likely final keynote of the year, is now upon us, and it is time for One More Thing. That one more thing will almost certainly be the first Apple Silicon Mac(s), and besides (ironically) the information Apple gave us back at WWDC in June, there isn’t a lot of rumours to go on, so what might the key points of the Apple Silicon Macs?
The most noticeable change with introduction of Apple Silicon powered Macs is battery life, redefining all day battery life to be in the 18 hour territory, rather than the 10 to 12 hours that it is now. This will not only be down to ARMs better performance per watt, but the fact that the Apple Silicon CPUs will also feature the efficiency cores that were first introduced in A10 alongside the iPhone 7.
The A14 CPU found in this year’s iPhone already outperforms all of Intel CPUs currently found in Macs in terms of single core performance, including the $5,999 Mac Pro.
Where the A14 is currently trailing is on multicore perfomance, as at the high end it currently only contains 4 Perfomance and 2 Efficiency cores. While popping this into a MacBook Air, and replacing its 2 (effectively perfomance core) CPU will be a noticeable performance upgrade, it has yet to be seen if Apple can successfully design and have fabricate CPUs with 8 or more perfomance cores, that would be required to give a noticeable boost in performance to the MacBook Pros and iMac, which leads us nicely on to the models…
Besides the year old powerhouse Mac Pro and the (probably doomed) iMac Pro, all models are up for grabs in the first round of updates.
The most likely model to see an update is a thin and light notebook, which will either be the resurrection of the MacBook (which was a perfect fit for an ARM Processor all along) or an update the MacBook Air, as replacing the CPU with the one found in the iPhone 12 would already give a noticeable improvements to both battery life and performance.
The MacBook Air Lineup is already reasonably streamlined, 2 models with different CPUs, with build to order options for the RAM, Hard drive and choice of 3 colours.
I expect the the Apple Silicon Mac’s to become more constrained in terms of customisation, with CPU and RAM fixed for each model, leaving build to order options to just be hard drive capacity and the color.
The other no brainier update is the Mac mini, although I would expect it to be a major step up from the Dev Kit, especially in terms of IO.
The 2 less likely updates are the smaller iMac (which was last updated in March 2019), and the MacBook Pro which saw a substantial update to the larger now 16 inch model last year, and a smaller update to the 13 inch model in May.
The iMac isn’t constrained by battery consumption, so if it does get updated the story will have to be all about speed, and I am not sure in terms of multicore performance the first round of Apple Silicon Mac’s will have a substantial enough performance leap to confuse the message.
The MacBook Pro is so integral to many Pro workflows, that I feel it would be risky to update it on day 1, but then again they did it when they switched to Intel! The more interesting aspect is that the MacBook Pro features a dedicated GPU on the high end, with options up to 8GB of dedicated RAM. If Apple do update the MacBook Pro 16”, they would either solved the integration with external GPUs, or they something a lot more powerful than graphics capabilities of iPad waiting in the wings for when they were less constrained by power.
Apple used the Intel transition to rename its computers to all start with Mac (PowerMac became Mac Pro, PowerBook became MacBook Pro etc), so would be interesting if Apple keeps up its current trend and we see an Apple Book.
This has already been announced, but expect the keynote to focus on a number of iOS apps being demoed that are now available on the Mac
Now that the Macs are running a fork of the iPad and iPhone hardware stack, now would be the perfect time for Apple to offer cellular as an option on their laptops. If this does happen, expect it to come at a premium as the software patents are relative to selling price, so this could be a $200+ option.
Not something that you typically associate with Apple, but the replacement of the pricey Intel CPUs (and potentially AMD GPUs) with Apple Silicon will represent a significant drop in cost of materials for Apple, in particularly at the high end where the CPUs in the MacBook are rumoured to still cost Apple hundreds of dollars.
Do I expect Apple to pass all of these savings on to the customer? No. But, I think it will allow Apple to hit those key price points, such as a $499 Mac mini, $999 MacBook Air etc
Naturally the Apple Silicon Macs will ship with Big Sur, but Intel Macs will also get to experience the new look and feel that it introduces. Big Sur will get its release date at this event, so at least all of us sticking with Intel based machines for a while longer get something to play with.