In October 2014, Apple refreshed its flagship all-in-one (my dream desktop) with an insanely sharp 5K screen, among other hardware changes. The update left seasoned watchers wondering about the fate of its smaller 21.5-inch baseline sibling, which has remained stuck with a Full HD 1,920-by-1,080 screen.
As suggested by code hooks 9to5Mac discovered in the second beta of El Capitan Developer Preview, the 21.5-incher could gain an ultra-sharp screen with a 4K resolution. In addition, it appears the Apple Remote could receive a substantial upgrade with a multi-touch surface, Bluetooth, Siri support and other perks in the works.
As shown on the screenshot below, El Capitan contains strings that seemingly reference support for an unreleased 4,096-by-2,304 resolution display panel.
The reference, which isn’t present in any version of Yosemite or in the first beta of OS X El Capitan, also mentions Intel’s new Broadwell-integrated graphics chipset known as the Iris Pro 6200 and AMD Radeon M380 – M395X graphics.
“While the larger, more expensive 27-inch iMac is offered with a 5K display, it could make sense for the smaller screen to be upgraded to a 4K resolution,” author Mark Gurman speculates.
However, these strings aren’t necessarily solid evidence of a new iMac as they could hint at support for standard 4K content, external screens or even an Apple-branded 4K Thunderbolt Display.
If a 21.5-inch iMac is getting 4K love, will the regular 27-inch 2,560-by-1,440 iMac gain a 4K screen, too? And if so, won’t these upgrades make the flagship 27-incher with 5K Retina screen (5,120 x 2,880) a much tougher sell?
Only time will tell.
Coincidentally or not, Apple supplier LG Display leaked on its own website in April that an ‘iMac 8K’ with “a super-high resolution display” will release “later this year”.
According to a recent WikiLeaks dump, part of which is pictured above, Apple did request 4K video content from Sony Pictures back in 2013. Moreover, the iPhone maker was permitted to use the materials for testing and preparing them for “exhibition on a video-on-demand and digital home entertainment basis.”
It’s unbeknownst to the general public whether Apple later signed any additional contracts that would permit it to offer 4K movies and TV shows for sale and rent on iTunes.
On a similar note, Apple scoopster John Paczkowski claims a next-generation Apple TV refresh won’t include 4K video playback capability, despite the iPhone 6 and iPad Air 2 processors being capable of rendering 4K content.
If I ran Apple, I’d refresh the iMac lineup like so:
- $1,099 21.5-inch iMac with 4K (4,096 x 2,304) Retina screen
- $1,799 27-inch iMac with 5K (5,120 x 2,880) Retina screen
- $1,999 27-inch iMac with 8K (7,680 x 4,320) Retina screen
As for a new remote, the file named “AppleBluetoothRemote.kext” in OS X El Capitan beta 2 hides reference to a Bluetooth-enabled remote, as opposed to the present-generation Apple Remote which uses infrared communication.
In addition to a dedicated Bluetooth chip, the accessory apparently has a multi-touch trackpad and supports audio, hinting at the possibility of Siri commands.
It’s unclear whether the new remote, if it gets released, is going to replace the current one or be offered as a higher-end accessory. For what it’s worth, the code strings indicate the new remote will be able to connect with devices via an infrared sensor, too.
Apple’s current remote, which was previously available standalone, now only ships with the $69 Apple TV media-streaming box.