2020 was a giant 12 months for the Mac—and we shouldn’t take that without any consideration. The primary 12 months I began predicting issues on this column, I felt just a little optimism about 2016, and it turned out to be an virtually vacant 12 months for the Mac. The previous few years present that Apple has develop into extra attentive to the Mac, culminating in a 12 months which may not have been as revolutionary as I used to be anticipating, however nonetheless a landmark in Mac historical past.
So with the M1 processor right here and Apple within the midst of a serious processor transition, there’s little question that 2021 might be an attention-grabbing one for the Mac! Change will abound! The query is… what type will that change take?
Time for a brand new iMac?
As we speak’s iMac design is a variation on a design from 2007, refined in 2012. That’s an terrible very long time to go with out a redesign. And so for the previous few years I’ve been predicting an iMac redesign—however to no avail.
I shall persevere. There’s a lot alternative for Apple to rethink the iMac, particularly with the appearance of Apple silicon. 2021 goes to be the 12 months.
I predict that the present 21.5-inch iMac is historical past, changed by a mannequin with a bigger show. A few of the design adjustments are apparent, similar to a lot smaller bezels throughout. The straightforward wager is that Apple will shrink all of the bezels, improve the digital camera (perhaps so as to add Face ID to the Mac for the primary time), enhance the show’s dynamic vary (MicroLED shows are rumored), and preserve all of it wrapped in a well-known form.
My hope is that Apple will go just a little bit additional, taking a web page from Microsoft’s Floor Studio and making the iMac capable of drop down into extra of a drafting-table configuration, the place it may be pushed by an Apple Pencil, if not fingertip enter. However my wager is that Apple will take the conservative route and make an iMac that appears acquainted, but up to date for a brand new decade.
The bigger iMac ought to get a brand new design, too. I’m wondering what Apple thinks the higher vary for an iMac display is. Wouldn’t it make a 30-inch iMac? What about 32 inches, just like the Professional Show XDR? Some show measurement will be added simply by shrinking the bezels, however maybe Apple will observe the bigger-is-better guidelines realized within the smartphone market and simply go all-out. A 32-inch HDR iMac that takes some classes from Apple’s ultra-high-end monitor would undoubtedly be attention-grabbing.
I personally don’t assume the iMac Professional is ever going to be up to date, however no matter how merchandise are named, Apple is aware of that a whole lot of high-end customers use iMacs. The M1 processors launched this fall are spectacular when it comes to efficiency, however there’s obtained to be one other shoe but to drop there. I may see the bigger iMac being held till in a while within the 12 months simply in order that it could possibly ship with a extra highly effective piece of Apple silicon inside.
Replace all of the MacBooks
Apple presently makes 4 laptops, two of which had been simply up to date with the M1 processor. Now it’s time for the 16-inch MacBook Professional and the high-end 13-inch MacBook Professional to have their flip. Just like the high-end iMac, I can’t see these laptops delivery with the M1 processor within the present fashions.
However as soon as there’s a sooner chip accessible, I feel Apple will replace each fashions. The 16-inch mannequin will most likely look kind of like the present mannequin, which was not too long ago upgraded from the outdated 15-inch mannequin. As for the high-end 13-inch mannequin, that is Apple’s alternative to distinguish it from the low-end 13-inch mannequin simply launched, by giving it the 16-inch makeover therapy and turning it right into a 14-inch MacBook Professional.
On my ain’t-gonna-happen want checklist: A brand new laptop computer, skinny and light-weight and small, the follow-on to the traditional 11-inch MacBook Air. Critically, Apple, I’d take a 12-inch MacBook with the brand new Magic Keyboard and an M1 processor in a heartbeat.
New Apple silicon
There’s little question in my thoughts that Apple might be releasing Macs containing Apple-built processors we haven’t seen earlier than in 2021. The high-end iMacs and MacBook Professionals demand it. The query is, will we see these new processors earlier than subsequent fall?
I’m going to say no. I feel any new Macs launched within the first half of 2021 might be primarily based on the M1 we’ve already gotten to know. It’s extremely quick and succesful, simply capable of drive a brand new iMac. After which within the fall, we’ll see an M2 that might be used within the higher-end Macs.
What I’m very interested by is how Apple will strategy variations on its Mac-based processors. All of at present’s M1 chips are kind of an identical (with chips with out eight good GPU cores being solid down into the low-end MacBook Air). However to distinguish on the upper finish, Apple might need to design a number of completely different chips with extra CPU and GPU cores. Will we see that in 2021, or will that be extra of a 2022 factor? Will Apple serve up a variant of the M1 within the spring, slightly than ready for fall for a brand new era?
I actually don’t know, but when compelled to decide on, I’ll guess that Apple retains it easy for one more 12 months. They launched the M1 in 2020, they will launch an M2 in 2021, after which gear up for finishing the transition in 2022 with higher-core variations of the M2 or perhaps a extra succesful M3. The velocity of the M1 processors means Apple doesn’t should power issues. It’s obtained time to make the transition it desires to make.
The seize bag
I’ve two extra Mac predictions to make. On the macOS facet, I feel Apple will simply preserve plugging away. New options of Apple silicon might require new options rolled into the OS, however in any other case I feel macOS updates are going to be way more incremental than lately. It’s time for Apple to push issues ahead, repair bugs, cope with the quirks of Mac Catalyst and working iOS apps on Mac, and proceed to develop SwiftUI. I count on lots much less drama on macOS than we’ve seen in a number of years.
Lastly, I’m going to go in opposition to my higher judgment and predict the looks of an Apple standalone exterior show apart from the Professional Show XDR. It’s not like Apple to depart cash on the desk, and there’s an enormous alternative for the corporate to launch a Very Good Show that doesn’t value $5,000 however pairs nicely with Macs and generates a tidy revenue. Apple certainly has observed that the standard of present exterior shows is missing.
It’s time. No matter show Apple makes use of to drive its new bigger iMac, I predict that it’ll additionally promote a standalone model. Don’t get your hopes too excessive—it can value much more than you hope. However that’s Apple. And Apple will promote a bunch of them, to pair with speedy new Apple silicon Macs.