“hello again” – Keynote Thoughts and Predictions
So it is finally happening, Apple has called a second holiday Keynote to announce some major updates to the Mac lineup (sent with lasers). The question is what Macs will get a major redesign and which ones will just be getting a minor speed bump?
The MacBook Pro is set to be the headline product announcement at this keynote and receive its biggest overhaul since it was updated to a unibody enclosure in 2008. Although the MacBook Pro will feature a slightly thinner designer than its current incarnation, the major change will be the multitouch function bar with Touch ID, called the Magic Toolbar. This will allow developers to display contextual virtual keys and information on the function row, while Touch ID would reduce the friction of using Apple pay on the web, as well as giving you a convenient way to unlock your Mac.
The MacBook Pro will also make the transition to USB-C and Thunderbolt 3. It will be sad to see the MagSafe port go away (unless Apple have come up with a USB-C complient MagSafe cable since the introduction of the MacBook), but the bigger question is whether Apple will ditch the headphone port in favour of a Lightning port…
The MacBook Air is an interesting product for Apple as it still sells in huge quantities (due to its price, number of ports, size and performance), but it is looking outdated with its huge bezel and lack of Retina Display. I expect it to remain (relatively untouched) in the Apple lineup until the MacBook hits the magical $999 price point, but a minor speed bump an inclusion of USB-C is on the cards for this event.
The MacBook is the only Mac that has been updated this year, and already has a single USB-C Port, so it is unlikely to get an update at this event.
When the current generation Mac Pro was unveiled at WWDC 2013 (yes it was unveiled 3 years ago!), Phil Schiller followed up the product film with the remark “can’t innovate my ass”. While Apple have been innovating else where (they have announced and released 2 generations the Apple Watch since then), the Mac Pro has remained untouched in both spec and price since it shipped at the end of 2013. Logic would suggest a spec bump at this Keynote, but there are rumours of this not happening till next year alongside the new Xeon processors.
The iMac is set to get its annual speed bump and support for USB-C, but nothing out of the ordinary having received major updates (to the display inpaticular) for the last 2 years.
The Mac mini aka The Home Server or The Build Machine, hasn’t had an update for over 2 years and with that “update” they dropped the option to have a quad core CPU, which has led to some people continuously checking the refurb section of Apple Store to grab a quad core Mac mini as soon as the come back in stock. If the Mac mini does get an update, it will just be a CPU bump and USB-C.
Apple discontinued the Thunderbolt Cinema display earlier this year, so the question is wether Apple are out of the external display market altogether or just waiting until the Mac lineup can drive a 5k external display. If it is the latter, this will be the Keynote to do it.
iOS 10.1 has been in beta for over a month now, the main feature being the portrait camera mode for the iPhone 7 Plus. iOS 10.1 will get a release date during the keynote, which will probably be later on in the day.
macOS didn’t get any stage time at the last keynote, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see a small recap of some of the new features in macOS Sierra in addition SDK support for the Magic Toolbar.