Apple in 2016:

Back to the Mac

Apple is about to bring the PC to the Post-PC Era

Apple will hold an event on October 27 at the companies Town Hall auditorium in their Cupertino campus. The event will focus on a number of groundbreaking shifts to Mac lineup, including a completely reimagined MacBook Pro.

The event comes after a long drought in Mac updates. The companies last major Mac announcement was the introduction of the MacBook in 2015. Devices like the MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, iMac, and Mac Pro haven’t seen updates in years.

While the main focus of next week’s event will be updates to the Mac lineup, expect updates on the companies already announced iPhone 7, AirPods, and Apple Watch Nike +, and possibly some Apple TV news.

Here’s everything you should expect:

iPhone and Apple Watch

With early reports indicating the iPhone 7 has been successful within Apple’s own expectations, the company is preparing to update users on the success of the device, alongside one major feature addition.

Portrait Mode

Apple will finally make the Portrait mode introduced alongside the iPhone 7 Plus available to consumers with a new iOS 10.1 update. The feature allows users to take pictures with extreme focus, creating an extremely sharpened foreground with an extremely blurred background.

AirPods

Apple is planning on finally launching its wireless AirPods at next week’s event. The earbuds work completely wirelessly, and use Apple’s new W1 chip to allow seamless integration between devices. The headphones will retail for $159 and be available on October 28.

Apple Watch Nike +

Apple will also take time to launch its already announced Apple Watch Nike+, which features exclusive Nike faces, bands and software enhancements. The device will be available at the same price points as the Sport model Apple Watches, meaning $369 for a 38mm and $399 for a 42mm.

Mac

When Steve Jobs revealed an envelope to the stage at an event in 2008 and told everyone there was a Mac inside, the audience was in shock. The fact that Apple had created a full powered computer at such a small size seemed almost magical.

I like to refer to these moments as ‘Hello’ moments. When Jobs originally unveiled the Macintosh’s GUI in 1984, he demonstrated it’s capabilities by having the screen write out ‘hello’. The iMac in 1998 was promoted with ‘hello again’. The MacBook Air was the last ‘hello’ moment.

Since 2008, Apple has had a couple notable Mac moments but has not launched a truly radical laptop since the death of Steve Jobs. The closest example would be Apple’s MacBook, introduced in 2015, which features an incredibly beautiful and thin body.

While the MacBook is beautiful, it isn’t magical. Apple hasn’t had a moment where they’ve shown us a new technology that was truly unprecedented in some time, Mac or otherwise. Now, that’s about to change.

MacBook Air

Apple plans to launch updated MacBook Air models at its October 27 event. The new models, which will likely launch at the same size and price points as the outgoing models, will feature the new USB-C technology currently available in Apple’s MacBook, as well as improved internal specs.

MacBook

Apple is working on a new, 13-inch model of the MacBook, which may be announced at this event.

iMac

Apple is working on updated iMac models, however they are unlikely to be featured at its October 27th event. The new models will feature updated internals, as well as new graphic card options from AMD.

Apple has been considering phasing out the non-Retina iMac models from its lineup, making the Retina models standard. While it is not certain the company will make the change during this event, the move is expected before 2018.

Apple has also been working on a new iMac featuring a Retina 8K display. The display would measure 27-inches. It is unclear if the model is ready for release.

Retina 5K Display

Apple is working on an updated external display, following the discontinuation of the Thunderbolt Display this past summer.

The device will feature the same Retina 5K display as the current 27-inch iMac and will feature an integrated GPU.

Apple had plans to launch the new display this quarter as early as this past August, though we have no confirmation of an appearance at this event.

MacBook Pro

Apple will launch a major update to its line of MacBook Pro laptops at its October 27 event.

The update will mark the largest redesign in the laptops history. Apple has been working on the redesign for at least two years and will position it as a ‘laptop of the future’ ready for the post-PC era.

The new laptops will be slightly thinner than the current generation models. While they won’t be as strikingly thin as the MacBook or MacBook Air, Apple is said to have made a good amount of progress thinning out the design. The device will remain in its classic shape, not adopting the wedge design of the companies other laptops. The new laptops are likely to come in the same color options as Apple’s MacBook — Grey, Silver, Gold, and Rose Gold.

The trackpad size is said to have increased greatly over the outgoing models, which also featured a major trackpad enlargement. The trackpad is the same Force Touch trackpad found on current Apple laptops.

The keyboard will likely not adopt the butterfly mechanism introduced on Apple’s MacBook, sticking with the classic system found on previous MacBook Pro models.

The display will see some notable improvements, featuring a wider color-gamut and deeper blacks. Apple was at one point testing the iPad Pro’s TruTone display on this new device, but it is unclear if the feature made the final product.

Internally, the device will feature updated Intel processors and new, faster graphics card options.

The new MacBook Pro is likely to focus heavily on USB C as its main I/O. The device is likely to feature a headphone port and a Thunderbolt, but it is unclear if the traditional USB-3 will be featured on the device.

The most notable addition to the device will be the removal of the traditional function bar, which will be replaced with a new second display.

Steve Jobs, explaining the concept of a touch screen during the iPhone launch event in 2007:

Now, why do we need a revolutionary user interface? Here’s four smart phones, right? Motorola Q, the BlackBerry, Palm Treo, Nokia E62 — the usual suspects. And, what’s wrong with their user interfaces? Well, the problem with them is really sort of in the bottom 40 there. It’s this stuff right there. They all have these keyboards that are there whether or not you need them to be there. And they all have these control buttons that are fixed in plastic and are the same for every application. Well, every application wants a slightly different user interface, a slightly optimized set of buttons, just for it. And what happens if you think of a great idea six months from now? You can’t run around and add a button to these things. They’re already shipped. So what do you do? It doesn’t work because the buttons and the controls can’t change. They can’t change for each application, and they can’t change down the road if you think of another great idea you want to add to this product.
Well, how do you solve this? Hmm. It turns out, we have solved it! We solved in computers 20 years ago. We solved it with a bit-mapped screen that could display anything we want. Put any user interface up. And a pointing device. We solved it with the mouse. We solved this problem. So how are we going to take this to a mobile device? What we’re going to do is get rid of all these buttons and just make a giant screen.

The second display will be integral to the experience of the new MacBook Pro. All apps, whether they are made by Apple or third-parties, will be able to tap into and change this new second display.

The second display will adapt to whatever is on screen. So, for example, if a user is in Pages, the display will show a number of commands helpful to word processing. Safari could show users history and reading list. iTunes could show the traditional media controls.

Apple believes this new, adaptive interface will be a game-changing differentiator from other devices, especially considering that it will be hard for Windows OEM’s to copy the feature, both due to Windows and a poor third-party community.

The display has one more important trick on its sleeve. When the laptop is completely off, holding down towards the end of the function bar, where the power button would traditionally be, will turn on the device. Once on the lock screen, the display can temporarily turn into a Touch ID sensor, allowing users to bypass the password login.

Apple strongly believes the metaphor it used for phones applies to laptops today, and the second display is just the first step. The company plans on introducing keys powered by e-ink displays that can change contextually on laptops within the next two years.

The new device will launch before the end of the year, likely at similar price points to the current MacBook Pro models.


Apple TV

Apple was working on a new, 5th generation Apple TV with improved internals and a new software update featuring the unreleased single-sign-on feature and a new Guide feature. It’s unclear if Apple intends to launch the device before the holiday season, or hold-off until next year to further prepare the software additions.

iPad

Apple is preparing updated iPad Pro’s featuring a new A10X processor. While the company may hope to launch them in time for the holidays, it appears the current plan is to wait until the beginning of next year.

Event Info

Apple’s October 27 event will take place at the companies Town Hall auditorium in its Cupertino campus at 10AM PDT and 1PM EST. The event will also be streamed over on Apple’s website here.

Be sure to stay tuned to MullingApple for more coverage and scoops regarding Apple, and make sure to stop by later this fall for even more info, as Apple likely prepares a second event.

Read the rest of the Apple in 2016 series:

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