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The highlight of next week’s Worldwide Developers Conference Keynote is almost sure to be Apple’s much-anticipated “Reality Pro” headset, with even iOS 17 playing second fiddle. However, it looks like Apple may have a few other surprises up its sleeve in the form of “several new Macs,” at least some of which may be significant enough to get stage time.
Apple sometimes slips new MacBooks and iMacs out more quietly via press release to coincide with its major events, especially if it’s already loaded down with plenty of other things to talk about. However, if the information from Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman is accurate, this WWDC Keynote could be the “longest ever” and mark the first time one of Apple’s virtual keynotes has surpassed the two-hour mark.
Gurman doesn’t share any specifics about what these new Macs could be, but it’s not hard to make a few educated guesses.
Firstly, there’s the 15-inch MacBook Air that we’ve been hearing about for a while, which all sources agree is ready to launch at WWDC. Although there was some debate about whether this would feature Apple’s latest-generation M3 chip, the latest information suggests the M3 won’t be ready until later this year. Instead, the 15-inch MacBook Air will come with two M2 chip options, likely just the same type of full-spec and binned options we’ve seen with previous Apple Silicon MacBooks.
However, as exciting as a larger MacBook Air will be for some folks, it’s hard to imagine Apple setting aside time for this in an already-packed WWDC event. It’s already pre-announced other things we’d have normally expected to see at WWDC, such as Final Cut Pro and Logic Pro for iPad, presumably to clear the stage for more important things.
There are also reports that Apple is working on a new 24-inch iMac, but sources have agreed since last year that it’s likely to skip the M2 and go straight for the M3 chip, which suggests it’s more likely to get a quiet summer or fall release than a WWDC announcement.
The Last Intel Mac
Still, there’s one pretty significant Mac update that we’ve been expecting from Apple for years now: the behemoth Mac Pro. It’s the only remaining Intel Mac and the final step that needs to be taken to complete the journey to Apple Silicon.
Of course, nobody expected the Mac Pro to get the Apple Silicon treatment right away, but many were surprised when it didn’t show up at WWDC last year.
Apple started in late 2020 by putting its baseline M1 chip into the most affordable — and most popular — of its Macs, the MacBook Air and 13-inch MacBook Pro. A year later, the M1 Pro and M1 Max brought more powerful versions to a redesigned 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro lineup.
Then, last year, the Mac Studio became the first entirely new Mac model to appear in Apple’s lineup in over a decade, shaking things up significantly by ushering in the insanely powerful M1 Ultra chip that allowed it to outperform the $28-core Mac Pro for a fifth of the price and a fraction of the size.
Were it not for Apple Senior VP John Ternus’ comments during that release event that there was “one more Mac” still to go to Apple Silicon, many would have wondered if the Mac Studio was intended to be a replacement for Apple’s towering Mac Pro.
Of course, if Apple can put that much power into a Mac that’s only slightly larger than a Mac mini, imagine what it could deliver in a full Mac Pro. The Mac Studio only beats the current Mac Pro because it runs Apple Silicon while the “higher-end” machine uses Intel Xeon CPUs.
However, when 2022 came and went without a peep about a new Mac Pro, we were left to assume that the M1 Ultra simply wasn’t good enough for Apple’s flagship professional Mac. Clearly, the company has something else in store.
That something else could be an M2 Ultra chip — the logical predecessor to the M1 Ultra used in the Mac Studio — or it could be something bigger and bolder, like an “M2 Extreme.” There’s some evidence that Apple is readying a refresh of the Mac Studio, and there’s no reason to believe that couldn’t come next week with an M2 Ultra chip inside. Apple quietly revved the M1 Pro and M1 Max into newer M2 equivalents with a late 2022 MacBook Pro release, so it seems the M1 Ultra would be next in line.
Still, the Mac Pro likely needs to take it up a notch even from there. It would be odd for Apple to push out a Mac Studio and a Mac Pro powered by the same chips. Granted, the Mac Pro has other advantages, such as more room inside for extra memory, storage, GPU, and other expansion cards, but it still needs to be put forward as a powerhouse. That suggests something beyond the Ultra class of Apple Silicon or, at the very least, a configuration that pairs multiple Ultra chips together.
It’s indisputable that a new Mac Pro would qualify for stage time during Apple’s Keynote on Monday. Not merely because it’s going to be the most powerful Mac Apple has ever released but also because every one of its predecessors was unveiled during a WWDC Keynote.
[The information provided in this article has NOT been confirmed by Apple and may be speculation. Provided details may not be factual. Take all rumors, tech or otherwise, with a grain of salt.]