Now that Apple’s next event is officially on the books for September 7, speculation can build about what won’t be announced, and when Apple might get around to updating those things: namely Macs, but also the iPad Pro. Bloomberg is reporting that, according to anonymous sources, Apple plans to refresh several Mac models and introduce new software features for the iPad Pro at an event in October. Read: Best laptop for designers and artists.
This is plausible - Apple often has one event in September for new iPhones and another in October for new iPads. Last year broke this cycle, with the 12.9-inch iPad Pro announced alongside the iPhone 6s in September 2015, and the smaller 9.7-inch iPad Pro and 4-inch iPhone SE announced in March 2016. But with so many of its products overdue for refreshes, it would make sense for Apple to knock out another round of introductions before the all-important Christmas shopping season.
New Macs 2016
The Mac lineup has languished lately. The ever-helpful MacRumors Buyer’s Guide, which tracks how many days it’s been since each model has been refreshed to help you handicap when to buy a new Mac, shows a “Don’t Buy” recommendation for every Mac except the 12-inch MacBook, which was updated in April. (That MacBook is now considered “mid-cycle,” after 132 days, with an average time between refreshes of 375 days. And it’s also not a laptop for everyone, with less power than the other lines and just one USB-C port for charging and connectivity.)
While most of the rumours about a new MacBook Pro have focussed on a brand-new design, we have to acknowledge that the most important new features are based around under-the-hood upgrades to keep the increasingly power-hungry Photoshop, InDesign, Premiere Pro and the like running smoothly. There would need to be faster chips (upgrading from the current MacBook Pro's 4th-gen Intel i7 processor to 6th-gen Xeons or Core i7s, like Dell's Precision 5510 or HP's ZBook Studio Z3). Faster DDR4 RAM like those PC laptops is also a must - as are more-powerful graphics chips.
We’ve already heard rumours about a redesigned MacBook Pro that would ditch the row of function keys along the top of the keyboard in favor of a strip of OLED keys that can change based on what application you’re using. This feature would require macOS Sierra, Bloomberg’s sources say, which is expected in the autumn, likely in the next couple of weeks before the iPhone 7 goes on sale.
The MacBook Pro might not be the only refreshed model, either: Bloomberg reports that Apple plans new MacBook Air models with USB-C ports, as well as iMacs with new AMD graphics processors. And now that Apple’s no longer selling its own 27-inch Thunderbolt Display (which can’t connect to the USB-C MacBook), Bloomberg says it’s working with LG to release a 5K monitor, like an external version of the beautiful 5K displays in the Retina iMac line, just without the Mac.
New iPad Pro features
The iPad Pro sold in stores today will likely stick around through the holiday buying season - Apple’s been backing away from yearly iPad refreshes for a while now. Instead, Bloomberg’s sources say Apple plans to supplement the iPad Pro's functionality with more iPad-specific software features - something we had complained was missing with iOS 10. Specifically, Apple Pencil users might be able to annotate content in more apps.
The Bloomberg report says this update might not come until 2017, though, which jibes with research by analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who predicted a 10.5-inch iPad Pro joining the lineup in 2017. Currently the iPad Pro comes in 12.9-inch and 9.7-inch sizes, along with the 7.9-inch iPad mini.