»Optional Wheels«

Thoughts on Apple Car, Part 133

Last week’s WWDC saw a bunch of automotive references:

  • Sidecar, the new way to pair Mac and iPad displays
  • CarPlay revamping its user interface
  • Mac Pro with its surprise announcement of optional wheels

While Jean-Louis Gassée isn’t convinced there will ever be an Apple Car, I would at least go as far as to say it’s on Apple’s mind.

The Mac Pro is the closest we have come to a Jony-Ive-designed wagon:

In what looks and must feel like a carry-on baggage that is allowed in airplane cabins, the Mac Pro weighs in at 18 kilos (almost 40 pounds).

It’s a lot.

Wheels make sense, and Apple describes them in a straightforward way:

Optional wheels make Mac Pro easy to transport across the set or from one studio to another.

What a down-to-earth value proposition for this simple A-to-B mode.

Start small.

Little is know about the wheels, except they will be optional and probably launch in the fall alongside the official availability of Mac Pro.

Responding to John Gruber’s question about the price point of the wheels during The Talk Show from WWDC, Greg Joswiak simply said »how many do you want?«

No further clues.

The design seems thought-through. The wheels look like regular luggage-rolls, but may very well have the same finish as the overall body of Mac Pro.

They replace the flat stands and appear to connect to the same part of the steel frame.

I wonder whether they will be interchangeable, and one will be able to switch from firm stand to rolling – and whether the wheels offer any sort of hardware trigger to lock them.

All design cues we get so far are from this close-up on the Mac Pro marketing website:

Circular designs have gone a long way in 2018, with Ive reshaping the whole iOS and Watch line to rounded corners. Officially opening perfect-circle Apple Park with a half-circle rainbow stage in the colours of the original Apple logo was actually a full-circle move in the company’s 40+ year history.

A company that finds itself preparing another pivot after the iPhone.

And this has all to do with wheels.

Apple hired industrial designers who have designed cars with „sphere“ balls rather than traditional wheels:

And it has long partnered with a company who pioneered groundbreaking suspension:

Just as Jony has been obsessed with doors and has played around with them in retail, his obsession with wheels is hopefully gaining traction playing around with Project Titan.