As for the calendar, Apple’s Mac announcements can be unpredictable. The Mac Studio came out in March. Last year’s 24-inch iMac arrived in April. In recent years, MacBook updates have arrived in June, October, and November. It’s a long way from the iPhone and its (almost) immutable September lock. There is something to be said for simplicity.
But if there is a regular checkpoint for Mac news, it should be WWDC, June’s entry in the list above. Some of Apple’s biggest Mac announcements were made during the summer’s WWDC keynote presentation, as my colleague Roman illustrates in his rundown of the top 10 Mac moments in WWDC history. Software is the first priority at WWDC, but Mac hardware comes second.
Join us at WWDC 2022 on Monday, June 6 for full coverage of Apple’s announcements.
Of course, that’s not to say that every WWDC is a Mac extravaganza, and it looks increasingly likely that this year’s gathering will fall short on Mac news. Which would be a shame, with so many of Apple’s Mac lines in limbo. But otherwise, WWDC is the right audience for Mac announcements, be it Airs or Pros, and all too often Apple lets a WWDC keynote come and go without a mention of the Mac (outside of macOS, of course).
If there’s one thing developers have in common, it’s that they all use Macs, and they all go to WWDC in hopes of a new Mac. WWDC is tailored for annual Mac announcements, but Apple’s most loyal customers never know when they’re coming. If Apple gave them all a good idea of what month a new version of each product will be launched, they’ll be happy to buy the old ones the other 11 months of the year. As things stand, everyone isn’t sure it’s safe to take the plunge, because a new Mac could be coming any moment.
The waiting game
Let’s recall the state of the Mac nation:
The last MacBook Air arrived in November 2020 when Apple unveiled its first M1 chip. Analysts have predicted that the next model will have an M2, but it now looks like the next-gen processor won’t be part of the deal after all. Apple will only have to sell the new Air because of an external redesign.
Apple’s flagship Mac feels oddly outdated at the moment, but that’s part of the area: hardware that’s as premium when it’s updated at longer intervals than the consumer models, meaning it’s rarely on the latest silicon. The current model came out in 2019; some new component options have been added since then, but it still hasn’t been upgraded to Apple silicon.
Like the MacBook Air, the M1 Mac mini has been on the shelves since November 2020. And Apple still sells the high-end Intel version, the version we expect an update from. A new model with an M1 Pro chip could arrive soon, with a lower-end M2 version also in the works.
13-inch MacBook Pro
We don’t know what Apple plans to do with the 13-inch MacBook Pro, which has little reason to be, but we’ll probably find out later this year.
The launch of the Mac Studio and Studio Display this spring means that the expected launch of a new iMac Pro probably won’t happen until 2023, if at all.
In other words, WWDC 2022 should be a reward for the Mac. But it doesn’t look like that will be the case. We might get a new Mac mini at WWDC, but it’ll be more of a placeholder than a blockbuster. Rumors suggest the next Mac Pro could show up at WWDC, but it’s more likely that Apple will just give us a taste, as they’ve done with previous Mac Pro redesigns.
So of the five Macs we’re waiting for, two are definitely not going to show up (13-inch MacBook Pro and 27-inch iMac), another can be viewed but won’t arrive until next year (Mac Pro), and the last two power launch, but without the M2 chip everyone wants (MacBook Air and Mac mini). This doesn’t sound like the celebration of the Mac WWDC should be.
It’s not that there’s no precedent for major Mac announcements at WWDC. After all, the Apple Silicon transition was already announced in 2020. But two years later, when we should be looking ahead to the next-generation M2 chip, Apple is sort of stuck in a pattern with its high-end Macs. The Mac mini hasn’t gotten an M1 Pro or M1 Max chip yet, the 27-inch iMac is gone, and the Mac Pro is ridiculously expensive and underpowered compared to the Mac Studio.
The M1 and its variants have undoubtedly been a success, but Apple, like most dominant companies, tends to sit on its laurels. Mac users are ready for the M2 and WWDC would be the perfect time to unveil it.
So I’m hoping Apple will deliver a few surprises and maybe even One More Thing on Monday. Because it looks like it could be another “soft” year for the Mac.