Apple will hold a press event at its Cupertino, California, campus on Thursday to announce some upgrades to its MacBook computers. The invitation to the event said “Hello Again,” a slogan that has been used in some major Mac announcements in the past.
But rather than a dramatic refresh of the entire Mac line, it seems most people are expecting Apple to add a few new features to, and upgrade the components of, a few select models. Ming-Chi Kuo, a reliable analyst from KGI Securities, said she believes Apple will launch three new MacBooks, including a 13-inch MacBook, and a couple of new MacBook Pros—one 13 inches and the other 15 inches.
The new MacBook Pros are expected to feature a new OLED strip above the keyboard that would replace the row of function keys seen there now. And the functions on the OLED strip might change according to the app running on the screen. They might also feature Touch ID (perhaps built into the power button), new Retina displays, some USB-C ports, and Thunderbolt 3 support. And, of course, the machines will get the normal spec upgrades—longer battery life, more storage, faster CPU and GPU, etc.
Less is known about the 13-inch MacBook, other than that it’s an inch bigger than the MacBook Apple launched in 2015 (you know, the one with just a single USB-C port for data and power). There’s been lots of speculation that the MacBook line will replace the comparably sized MacBook Air at some point, but it’s not likely to happen this soon. “I’ve long predicted that Airs only stay around until regular MacBooks can hit a $999 (899?) entry price,” said veteran Apple watcher John Gruber on Twitter. The 12-inch MacBook starts at $1,300 today.
The main reason for the Mac line upgrades (as far as we know) is simply that it’s been a long time since Apple has done it. The last update of the Retina MacBook Pros was back in April 2015. Apple has already waited twice as long as it usually does to update that line. The 12-inch MacBook was quietly upgraded by Apple in April (announced via press release).
According to MacRumors’ buyer’s guide, the MacBook Air hasn’t seen an upgrade since March 2015, far longer than the normal refresh interval. It’s also been more than a year since the iMac has seen an upgrade. But the odds aren’t good that we’ll see either the MacBook Air or the iMac get a refresh this Thursday. Kuo writes that Apple simply doesn’t have the products ready to ship.
Apple is also said to be working with LG to build a new 5K Retina display that would replace the 27-inch Thunderbolt display it discontinued earlier this year. While it’s possible Apple could announce the new display (and a new iMac, for that matter), it’s not likely the devices would launch until next year.
We’ll be onsite with live coverage of the Apple event this Thursday.