Last year I commented on the rumored focus on quality before WWDC. I thought I’d do it again this year, but I’ve pushed it to the last possible moment before the announcements so this is a little thin.
I try to ignore rumors as much as possible but it’s impossible to ignore them completely. Lots of talk about AI, VR, Big Data, and the usual suspects: iOS and MacOS (yep it’s probably going be the new name to replace Mac OS X maybe signaling a shift in the desktop operating system). But what seems to be jumping out to me are the hardware-related rumors. Not those around a new iPhone (dual cameras? change in yearly updates and names?), but MacBook Pro, Mac Pro, and displays.
The PowerMac G5 was a huge (literally) revolution in professional Mac hardware in 2003. It had some tweaks over the years, the largest being the switch to Intel in 2006 as the Mac Pro, but remained largely unchanged with little in the area of cutting edge technology, especially video cards. Many still praised the last PowerMac G5 as the most powerful. Then the Mac Pro 2nd-generation in an all-new round enclosure released 3 years ago with no updates since.
MacBook Pro is a curious one. Apple seems to think professional users want thin, light, smaller screens, and fewer features. I would say that is more prosumer-thinking than hard-core professionals. 17-inch screens faded away 4 years ago with no explanation, giving way to retina screens, the last truly cutting edge change. Very nice tweaks to specs, ports, battery, and trackpad but thin, light, and energy efficient does not describe a modern “pro” notebook. Does it have the best graphics hardware, most memory, biggest storage compared to other notebooks? No, and that’s the sad part. While I would like to see a truly professional Mac notebook, this is the one line that they have actually updated regularly even if it’s really aimed at prosumers.
One of the rumors that seems very interesting to me is that the long-awaited display update would not only finally arrive but may include its own graphics chips. As an owner of a MacBook with a Thunderbolt port and an Apple Thunderbolt Display, I looked at external Thunderbolt chassis that could use any video card providing exceptional external video capabilities. Since Thunderbolt can handle it, why not? Now the idea of a Thunderbolt-driven display with its own graphics chips means you can connect this to any Thunderbolt-equipped Mac and get the extra power to drive all those pixels. A great idea. Even if this cool feature doesn’t appear, why not any update in the last 5 years? Even one! No USB 3.0 or Thunderbolt 2. Just look at the pitiful Wikipedia page.
I understand owners of more expensive systems usually upgrade less often, but I’d like to see Mac Pro and displays not languish for years, and add a truly professional MacBook with cutting edge features.