With Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference starting this week, Tim Cook and his team will be showcasing what’s next for the full range of Apple products. Alongside the updates to the operating systems and development tools, there is an expectation that Apple will debut both the M2 Apple Silicon chipset, and updates to the MacBook Air and MacBook Pro lines.
What does that mean for those waiting to buy a new MacBook? Obviously, you don’t want to buy right now. here’s what to watch out for during the keynote to decide if Apple’s new Macs are for you.
The obvious thing to watch for is Apple actually launching new laptops. Both the MacBook Air and the entry-level MacBook Pro debuted alongside the M1 Apple Silicon (as did a new Mac Mini). With those expectations of the M2 chipset in the air, there’s a good chance that Apple will also debut new hardware running the updated chip. If you’re waiting to decide on new hardware, the best comparison is clearly to the new hardware.
While expectations are high, there are no guarantees. There was a strong feeling that the new MacBook Air would debut at Apple’s March 2022 event… feelings that amounted to nothing.
That could be the case here as well. There’s a set rhythm for the launch of the new Axx chipsets used in the iPhone – the new version of iOS is introduced at WWDC, there are enough elements in the code to allow informed speculation on the new chipset, and then the iPhone itself is launched with details on all of the new hardware elements.
If Apple was to use that well-travelled road, then WWDC will see the new version of macOS laid out, demonstrating how it will interact with other Apple services; the code will suggest what new hardware is under development, and the presumptive MacBook Air and MacBook Pro laptops debuting the chipset will arrive in the back half of the year.
So, let’s go down this earth and assume that’s the case. What should the macOS laptop faithful be watching out for?
Even if the new laptops are not announced we may see the next-generation of Apple Silicon discussed (the so-called M2 chipsets). Watch out for not only the increase in performance over the existing M1 chipsets, but also the power efficiency of the chipset, the thermals of the chip and how cool it runs.
You should also be conscious of any benchmark that compares the chip performance to “the leading competition” without putting in any hard numbers. Apple presentations are not above a bit of hand-waving on behalf of the marketing department.
The next version of macOS will be introduced, and you can expect Apple to showcase the key features that it wants developers to focus on and the media to be aware of. Last year the big pitch was for Universal Control; this allowed a Mac and an iPad to share their hardware and be seen as a single workstation – a shared clipboard, a mouse pointer moving between the two screens, the keyboard working for either device. It was a wonderful example of how Apple was bringing the worlds of macOS and iPadOS closer together while trying not to cross the streams.
It also took eleven months to actually leave beta and arrive for consumers. The point here is not the delay, it’s Apple showing the direction of both macOS and iPadOS. You can watch out for that again this year, as Apple will no doubt continue to expand its online services and hardware interoperability to provide better ways of working between Apple products (and quietly increase the consumer lock-in across all of its close-knit platforms).
Apple could show off a new MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, Mac Mini. It could release a Mac Pro (the final Mac that needs Apple Silicon support). We might get details on the M2 chipset with no details on the release hardware. There could be benchmarks of new and old hardware to show Apple’s drive. There will be updates to the various operating systems.
There are a lot of potential combinations that could be on show at WWDC 2022. Whatever combination is chosen by Cook, it will be a signpost on what to expect from Apple over the next 12 to 18 months. That’s the information you need before making any of your own decisions around your next Mac.