Thursday September 22, 2016 7:40 am PDT by Eric Slivka
While many Mac notebook users have been long awaiting refreshes for the MacBook Pro and MacBook Air lineups based on Intel's 6th-generation Core "Skylake" processors, a recently leaked April roadmap for Intel's processors beyond Skylake posted to the AnandTech forums raises questions about future updates for the 15-inch MacBook Pro in particular.
The update bottleneck for future Mac notebooks is primarily related to the performance of Intel's integrated graphics, and it appears that an emphasis on processing cores over graphics by Intel may force Apple to make some changes to its graphics strategy down the road.
Simple titled "Get the Surface Pro," the new ad has a focus on the tablet's ability to write and doodle on the screen with the included stylus. Using the same musical accompaniment of the previous MacBook Air comparison spot, the singer in the new ad tells potential customers that "if you try to write on a plain old Mac, the difference can be seen. It doesn't work." Other advantages highlighted in the ad include the detachable keyboard, and the ending tagline states, "Surface does more. Just like you."
Microsoft positions the Surface Pro 4 as a true combination tablet and personal computer, leading to ads comparing it to both an iPad Pro and MacBook. In the previous iPad Pro commercial, Microsoft's personal assistant Cortana let customers, and Siri, know that the iPad lacks an Intel Core i7 processor, full access to Microsoft Office beyond the mobile app versions, a trackpad, and external port options, making Microsoft's tablet more of a computer than Apple's 12.9-inch tablet.
The 12.3-inch Surface Pro 4 starts at $899 for 128GB of internal storage and 4GB of RAM, and goes up to as much as $1,799 for 256GB of internal storage and 16GB of RAM. Comparatively, the 11-inch MacBook Air starts at $899, with 128GB of storage and 4GB of RAM, increasing to $1099 for 256GB of storage and 8GB of RAM, while the 13-inch model starts at $999 for 128GB of storage and 8GB of RAM, and rising to $1199 for 256GB of storage.
Tuesday August 30, 2016 8:04 am PDT by Mitchel Broussard
After showing off the capabilities of its new 7th Generation Core, Kaby Lake, during the Intel Developer Forum earlier in the month, Intel corporate vice president Navin Shenoy today gave more details regarding the third "optimized" member of the 14 nm chip family following Broadwell and Skylake. In today's announcement -- focused on the speed and 4K UHD support the new CPUs provide -- Intel officially unveiled its first Y-Series and U-Series processors, which could be included in future Retina MacBook and MacBook Air updates, respectively.
The new Kaby Lake processors (prepared as a mid-generation update ahead of Intel's Cannonlake processors) offer a moderate upgrade on earlier Skylake chips, with Intel focusing on the user benefits of its 7th Generation Core processors. These advantages namely include: 4K ultra-HD video streaming, 360-videos, and more intensive graphical performance for video games on smaller computers.
In addition to gaining access to 4K content from services like YouTube and Netflix, Kaby Lake will grant users the power to create and edit their own 4K content with speeds up to 8x faster than a five-year-old PC. Kaby Lake was manufactured using an upgraded version of Intel's 14-nanometer process, referred to as 14nm+, which the company claims has produced a processor with 12 percent faster productivity performance and up to 19 percent faster web performance over previous generations.
Everyday users will see these manifested in smooth app switching, even within performance-heavy apps like 4K video editing software, and basic battery life improvements. In this department, Kaby Lake will bring up to 9.5 hours of playback on 4K videos in any computer it's found in this fall. The release of Kaby Lake will mark Intel's first processor released after the company abandoned its tick-tock release cycle, where "ticks" represented shrinking chip fabrication processes and "tocks" introduced new architectures.
Kaby Lake "Y-Series" chips appropriate for MacBook
The three Kaby Lake Y-Series processors announced today are suitable upgrades for the MacBook, which was just updated to Skylake chips in April and thus is not expected to see another upgrade in the near future. The three U-Series chips could potentially make their way into future MacBook Air models, assuming graphics performance is sufficient for Apple's needs. The new U-Series chips include Intel HD "GT2" graphics, while Apple has historically preferred to use chips with relatively higher-performance "GT3" graphics in the MacBook Air.
Kaby Lake "U-Series" chips possibly appropriate for MacBook Air
Apple is rumored to be launching updated MacBook Air models as soon as October, but it is unclear whether the machines will use Skylake or these new Kaby Lake chips, as the current models continue to run on earlier Broadwell chips.
More powerful mobile Kaby Lake chips with Iris graphics and desktop chips such as those appropriate for the MacBook Pro and iMac are expected to begin debuting in January, but Intel did not release a specific timeline or specs for those families.
Monday August 29, 2016 3:35 pm PDT by Joe Rossignol
Apple is planning to refresh its Mac lineup, including the MacBook Pro and MacBook Air, as early as October, according to Bloomberg. The report also claims Apple is working on a standalone 5K display in partnership with LG Electronics, while it plans to update iMac models with an option for new graphics chips from AMD.
The report reiterates that the new MacBook Pro will be thinner and include an OLED-based touchscreen strip along the top of the flatter keyboard, which will present functions that dynamically fit the current task or application, as well as integrate Touch ID to enable users to quickly log in using their fingerprint.
For example, if a user is on their desktop, the screen will show a virtual representation of the standard function row, which includes brightness and media controls. When in an application, the virtual row will show options specific to the task at hand, but volume controls and a switch to show the default functions will always be present.
Apple has reportedly named the feature "Dynamic Function Row" internally, but its official name may differ when announced.
The tweaked MacBook Air models, meanwhile, are said to include multipurpose USB-C ports, which makes the inclusion of Thunderbolt 3 a possibility. No other details were shared about the planned MacBook Air and iMac refreshes.
Apple's plans to work with LG on a standalone 5K display surface two months after it discontinued the five-year-old Thunderbolt Display. It remains unclear if the monitor will be based upon the Retina 5K iMac, and it is also unclear if the report's broad late 2016 timeframe for "some of the new Mac products" includes the display.
The report makes it nearly certain that the focus of Apple's just-announced September 7 media event will be on the iPhone 7 and the second-generation Apple Watch, the latter of which has now been confirmed for the event. Apple will also provide updates about its software, including iOS 10, macOS Sierra, watchOS 3, and tvOS 10.
Monday August 29, 2016 3:19 am PDT by Tim Hardwick
Microsoft today launched a new commercial for its Surface Pro 4, directly comparing the tablet computer to Apple's MacBook Air.
The ad, titled "Surface Pro 4 is the one for me", was posted on YouTube and features a woman trying out some of the features of the Surface Pro 4 and then attempting to replicate the functionality on a MacBook Air, to no avail. All the while, a melody man plays a musical keyboard and quirkily sings the praises of Microsoft's PC offering against the Apple machine, which he calls "less useful, like a hat for your cat".
The lighthearted ad plays upon the Surface Pro 4's signature features like the detachable keyboard, pen, and touchscreen, as well as the machine's relative lightness compared to the MacBook Air, which is "slower, heavier, and a bit square," sings the keyboard player. The ad ends with the tagline: "Surface does more. Just like you."
The 12.3-inch Surface Pro 4 starts at $899 for 128GB of internal storage and 4GB of RAM, and goes up to as much as $1,799 for 256GB of internal storage and 16GB of RAM.
Comparatively, the 11-inch MacBook Air starts at $899, with 128GB of storage and 4GB of RAM, increasing to $1099 for 256GB of storage and 8GB of RAM, while the 13-inch model starts at $999 for 128GB of storage and 8GB of RAM, and rising to $1199 for 256GB of storage.
Wednesday July 27, 2016 8:01 am PDT by Joe Rossignol
Last month, Japanese blog Mac Otakara reported that Apple plans to announce new MacBook Air models featuring USB-C ports based on the Thunderbolt 3 protocol by the end of June, and begin shipping the notebooks to retailers in August. It is now seven weeks later, however, and the rumor has yet to materialize.
But if a new report from Taiwanese website DigiTimes is to believed, Apple still has plans to release a new MacBook Air with USB-C ports after all. The report does not provide a launch timeframe for the updated notebooks, but the secondary rumor suggests Mac Otakara may have been off on timing only.
Currently, Apple has decided to adopt the USB Type-C interface for its MacBook Air, while Asustek Computer and Hewlett-Packard (HP) are upgrading one of their notebooks' regular USB port to the Type-C. Lenovo, Acer and Dell are still evaluating the option.
DigiTimes previously reported that Apple will begin shipping new "ultra-thin" 13-inch and 15-inch MacBooks at the end of the second quarter, which ended in late June. The report said the new MacBooks would "share a design similar to the existing 12-inch MacBook" and be "thinner than [the] existing MacBook Air."
DigiTimes also previously reported that Apple plans to release new ultra-thin MacBooks with metal injection molded hinges in the second half of 2016. The website is not always an accurate source of Apple's upcoming product plans, but it has well-connected supply chain sources that have proven reliable at times in the past.
Apple's entire Mac lineup, beyond the 2016 12-inch MacBook, has stagnated. Apple has not released a new MacBook Air in over 500 days, beyond a minor 8GB RAM bump for 13-inch models in April. Some believe the MacBook Air's days are numbered, but perhaps the notebook will live on until Apple can sell the 12-inch MacBook from $999.
If a new MacBook Air is incoming, a late-year launch is most probable. KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said Apple will launch three new MacBook models by year's end: a thin and light 13-inch MacBook in the June-September quarter, and two thinner and lighter 13-inch and 15-inch MacBook Pro models in the September-December quarter.
Wednesday June 8, 2016 9:03 am PDT by Joe Rossignol
Apple plans to announce new MacBook Air models within the month of June, and begin shipping the notebooks to retailers in August, according to Japanese website Mac Otakara. The conflicting report also claims that Apple will announce a refresh to its entire MacBook Pro series this month, although it did not specify when shipments of those models would begin.
The report, citing "a reliable Chinese supplier," mentions earlier rumors that Apple will discontinue the smaller 11-inch MacBook Air to focus on 13-inch and all-new 15-inch models, although it is unclear if Mac Otakara's source is independently corroborating them. All of the new MacBook Air and MacBook Pro models are expected to be equipped with Thunderbolt 3/USB-C ports, while USB-A, MagSafe 2, and Thunderbolt 2 ports found on existing models will allegedly be removed.
Mac Otakara said it is unclear whether Apple plans to announce the new MacBook Air and MacBook Pro models at WWDC 2016, but multiple reliable sources have indicated that it will effectively be a no-hardware event. Apple could still make a non-WWDC announcement in June by way of press release, as was the case with the new 12-inch MacBook in April, possibly indicating only minor updates.
Today's report is mostly in line with Taiwan's hit-or-miss Economic Daily News, which reported that Apple will announce slimmer 13-inch and 15-inch MacBook Air models with "fully redesigned" internal components at WWDC 2016, followed by a launch in the July-September quarter. That report is from November 2015, however, so Apple's exact product roadmap may have changed over the past eight months.
Taiwanese website DigiTimes also reported that Apple will begin shipping new "ultra-thin" 13-inch and 15-inch MacBooks at the end of the June quarter. The report said the new MacBooks will "share a design similar to the existing 12-inch MacBook" and be "thinner than [the] existing MacBook Air," which makes it difficult to infer whether the report is referring to the MacBook, MacBook Air, or MacBook Pro lineup.
In a recent research note, however, KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said that Apple will not introduce new MacBook models until the second half of 2016, including a thin and light 13-inch MacBook in the third quarter, and two thinner and lighter 13-inch and 15-inch MacBook Pro models in the fourth quarter. Other reliable sources have also suggested new Macs will be released later in the year.
In terms of the new MacBook Pro, Kuo said the 2016 model will feature a thinner and lighter form factor, Touch ID, and a new OLED touch bar positioned above the keyboard. Leaked photos of what appears to be the notebook's unibody revealed space for the OLED touch panel and four USB-C ports. The new MacBook Pro is also expected to adopt metal injection mold-made hinges, which are reportedly already shipping.
Other improvements to the 2016 MacBook Pro should include faster Skylake processors across the lineup, while the top-of-the-line models may sport AMD's new 400-series Polaris graphics chips. Apple last refreshed the 13-inch MacBook Pro in March 2015, followed by the 15-inch model in May 2015, with Force Touch trackpads, faster flash storage, longer battery life, and improved graphics.
Meanwhile, Apple has not fully refreshed the MacBook Air since March 2015, when both the 11- and 13-inch models were upgraded with faster Broadwell processors, Thunderbolt 2, and Intel HD Graphics 6000. The 13-inch MacBook Air also received up to two times faster flash storage. The only minor update to the lineup since then was in April, when Apple bumped the stock 13-inch MacBook Air to 8GB of RAM, up from 4GB.
Apple not updating the 11-inch MacBook Air with 8GB of RAM as well lends credence to rumors claiming the ultra-portable model will be discontinued.
While it is widely believed that Apple may eventually discontinue the entire MacBook Air, which currently sits awkwardly between the Retina MacBook and MacBook Pro, KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo recently said the notebook will remain part of Apple's lineup for now, repositioned as its lower-priced offering.
We expect new MacBook Pro models to be thinner and lighter with better hardware specifications. As such, it will retain its high-end position in the line. MacBook will replace MacBook Air to become the medium-/ high-end model. As both MacBook Pro and MacBook have a thin and light form factor, there is no need to keep MacBook Air. For this reason, we predict no significant upgrade for MacBook Air going forward. Rather, it will serve as an entry-level model sold at low prices.
Apple plans to introduce a revamped high-end MacBook Pro this year that'll include a thinner and lighter form factor, Touch ID and a new OLED display touch bar above the keyboard, according to a new report from KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo. The new MacBook Pro would come in 13- and 15-inch variations and arrive in the fourth quarter of 2016.
While long overlooked, the MacBook line is the brightest spot for Apple’s 2016 rollouts. This is particularly true of the two new MacBook Pro models, to be introduced in 4Q16, as they will have a thinner and lighter form factor, Touch ID, use OLED display touch bar (to replace physical function keys, located above the keyboard) and adopt USB- C / Thunderbolt 3.
Kuo calls the new MacBook Pro updates the "most significant upgrade ever undertaken by Apple." The new "thin and light" design will be helped by new metal injection mold-made hinges and the butterfly-mechanism keyboards that debuted in the 12-inch MacBook. There has been speculation Apple would introduce Touch ID to MacBooks and, in the meantime, Apple engineers are working on a way users could unlock their Macs with Touch ID on iPhone.
The 12-inch MacBook will also be joined by a 13-inch MacBook, according to Kuo. The analyst believes that Apple will move forward with all three MacBook lines this year, with the MacBook Pro occupying the high-end slot, the MacBook will replace the Air as the medium-level model and the MacBook Air will serve as an entry-level model with comparatively low prices.
Tuesday April 19, 2016 6:25 am PDT by Joe Rossignol
In addition to releasing the next-generation 12-inch MacBook with faster specs and a Rose Gold color option, Apple has announced that its two 13-inch MacBook Air configurations now ship with 8GB of RAM as a standard option starting today.
13-inch MacBook Air models previously had 4GB of RAM for stock configurations, with 8GB of RAM available as an upgrade option for built-to-order models. 11-inch MacBook Air models continue to have 4GB of RAM for base configurations.
Apple did not make any other changes to the MacBook Air lineup, which is awkwardly positioned between the ultra-thin 12-inch MacBook and the MacBook Pro. In fact, there is some speculation that the MacBook Air might eventually be discontinued, but for now it lives on with older Broadwell processors and no Retina display.
But those waiting patiently for a Mac refresh may not have much longer to wait, as DigiTimes today reported that Apple will begin shipping new "ultra-thin" 13-inch and 15-inch MacBooks at the end of the second quarter.
The second calendar quarter ends on June 30, meaning that new Macs could feasibly be introduced by WWDC 2016, which will likely take place between June 13-17 based on scheduling information available from the Moscone Center.
The new MacBooks will allegedly "share a design similar to the existing 12-inch MacBook" and be "thinner than [the] existing MacBook Air," which makes it difficult to infer which MacBook lineup the report is referring to.
DigiTimes has a mixed track record at reporting on Apple's upcoming product plans, but its report corroborates a previous rumor claiming Apple is preparing thinner 13" and 15" MacBook Airs with "fully redesigned" internal components. That report said the notebooks would be ready by the third quarter, which corresponds to a July-September timeframe -- possibly shortly after a WWDC announcement.
Apple currently offers the MacBook Air in 11" and 13" sizes, and it has never released a 15" MacBook Air. In fact, many have assumed the MacBook Air will be discontinued at some point as declining costs allow the MacBook to become Apple's mainstream notebook offering. A redesigned MacBook Air, possibly with a long-awaited Retina display, could be considered a bit of a surprise.
The current MacBook Pro perhaps better corresponds with the rumored 13" and 15" sizes, but whether Apple is able to fit pro-level hardware in an "ultra-thin" design similar to the lower-spec 12-inch MacBook remains to be seen. There is also the possibility that the new 13" and 15" notebooks will be MacBooks, but the notion seems questionable unless Apple discontinues the year-old 12" model.
Apple last refreshed the 13-inch MacBook Pro in March 2015, while the 15-inch model was updated in May. For this reason, the 13-inch model is classified as Early 2015, and the 15-inch model is Mid 2015. Both notebooks received Force Touch trackpads, faster flash storage, longer battery life, and improved graphics.
iOS 9, watchOS 2, and OS X 10.11 El Capitan brought refinements to Apple's operating systems, and the fourth-generation Apple TV came with a brand new operating system, tvOS. 2015 saw a huge number of new products and software updates, and 2016 promises to be just as exciting.
A second-generation Apple Watch is in the works and could launch in early 2016, while new flagship iPhones, the iPhone 7 and the iPhone 7 Plus, are coming in late 2016. Those who love smaller devices will be excited to hear a 4-inch iPhone 6c may be coming early in 2016, and Apple's Mac lineup is expected to gain Skylake chip updates.
New software, including iOS 10, OS X 10.12, watchOS 3, and an upgraded version of tvOS are all expected in 2016, and Apple will undoubtedly work on improving services like HomeKit, Apple Pay, and Apple Music.
As we did for 2014 and 2015, we've highlighted Apple's prospective 2016 product plans, outlining what we might see from Apple over the course of the next 12 months based on current rumors, past releases, and logical upgrade choices.
Sunday November 29, 2015 8:26 pm PST by Eric Slivka
Apple may be preparing to introduce a revamped MacBook Air at next year's Worldwide Developers Conference, according to Taiwan's Economic Daily News [Google Translate]. If Apple holds true to recent history, WWDC 2016 would be held in June, and the today's report claims the new MacBook Air will launch in the third quarter, which corresponds to the July–September timeframe.
The new MacBook Air is said to take on a slimmer design and arrive in 13-inch and 15-inch sizes, but it is unclear whether an 11-inch model will also be included. The slimmer design will be enabled by "fully redesigned" internal components across the board, and Apple is reportedly currently working with its suppliers to develop these new components.
Apple's notebook lineup expanded earlier this year with the addition of the new MacBook, an ultrathin machine carrying a 12-inch Retina display and utilizing ultra low voltage Intel chips for a fanless design.
Many have assumed the MacBook Air will be discontinued at some point as declining costs allow the MacBook to become Apple's mainstream notebook offering, so a redesigned MacBook Air giving the line a new lease on life could be considered a bit of a surprise.
The addition of a 15-inch MacBook Air could hint at Apple's vision for its future lineup, with the 12-inch MacBook occupying the ultraportable spot, the MacBook Air serving mainstream customers at 13 and 15 inches, and the MacBook Pro offering more power at those same sizes.
Economic Daily News has a hit-or-miss track record with Apple rumors, so caution should be observed with today's claims until or unless other supporting rumors surface in the coming months.
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