Over the last few weeks we’ve been flooded with Mac-related rumors, with the most recent chatter focusing on the upcoming MacBook updates. We talked about these reports on the latest episode of our podcast, and that discussion helped give birth to the following post. Here are 3 rumored features I’d really like to see in the upcoming MacBooks.
Redesigned MacBook Air
Saying the current MacBook Air design is getting long in the tooth is an understatement. The overall tapered tear drop design has been around since 2008, so we are talking more than a decade without any [significant] visual changes or improvements. And I can already hear the rebuttals, something-something timeless design, if it ain’t broke don’t fix it, change for change sake, etc., etc. But when you place the Air next to the 4th gen iPad Air or Apple’s Pro Display XDR, you can’t deny it looks very outdated. I for one would love to see an update that brings the entry-level laptop’s design language more in line with current products—square edges, smaller borders around the display, etc.—which is essentially what recent rumors have been suggesting.
Built-in Face ID
My average, dumb brain wants to know what is taking Apple so long to incorporate Face ID into its Mac lines. Surely if you can fit the necessary components into an iPhone 12 mini, you can fit them into a MacBook, or at the very least the iMac. Now I’m sure there are a number of reasons, be they engineering or marketing, but all I am saying is it’s about damn time. Face ID makes a ton of sense on a Mac where you are more often than not staring directly at, or within clear line of sight of, the FaceTime camera. Once in the MacBook, you’re talking about near 100% accuracy for hands-free unlocks and password fill-ins, and I have to imagine that adding the feature would also result in a sensor upgrade (TrueDepth) for the front-facing camera. This would obviously mean better video quality for conference calls and streaming—a notable pain point in current MacBooks. It’s worth pointing out that a recent report stated Face ID is not likely to appear in this year’s Mac updates, but since the feature has been developed, I’m
betting hoping we see it sooner rather than later.
Built-in cellular connectivity
That same report claims Apple has also developed underlying support for adding cellular connectivity to its Macs. As with Face ID, putting a cellular chip into a MacBook seems like an obvious and natural fit. I’d give you another one of those ‘it’s about damn time’ speeches, but I suspect this delay has been more tech-related, and thus more forgivable. But now Apple has its super power-efficient M1 chips, and it recently acquired the ability to make its own 5G chips, so it seems as if everything is falling into place. I imagine a lighter, more portable MacBook Air with wireless, high speed Internet you can use almost anywhere. And if Apple can figure out how to lower the Air’s price a bit and work out some kind of data deal with carriers, it’s not hard to see this pushing into the Netbook/Chromebook space—which would be a huge boon for Apple’s EDU business.
We are just floating things here obviously, but none of this feels very far away. Once Apple introduced its in-house M1 chip, it seems to have created a snowball effect for its Mac products, particularly the laptops. Now it can make things lighter and slimmer and more portable. Now it can add power-intensive features like Face ID and cellular connectivity. And it can do all of these things without having to worry about significant drops in battery life or performance, thanks to the M1.
In addition to the recent MacBook rumors, Apple is also said to be working on a redesigned iMac and new Mac Pro models. We mentioned this on the podcast, and I think it bears repeating, that it feels somewhat surreal to see the Mac so alive and thriving when just two years ago, everyone was ready to proclaim Apple’s line of computers dead.