“Unleashed.” – Keynote Thoughts and Predictions
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.