Analyzing rumors and speculation surrounding Apple's 2013 iPad & Mac event!
We're only hours away from Apple's 2013 iPad and Mac event, and just like the invitation says, there's a lot left to cover. Last year we got the improved iPad 4, all new iPad mini, redesigned iMac, and the 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro. This year we're looking forward to a thinner, lighter iPad 4, Retina iPad mini 2, the all new Mac Pro, Haswell chipset-based MacBook Pro bumps, and... well, that's the real question, isn't it?
Tim Cook will come out and talk Apple Retail and Apple core values. Phil Schiller will show off new iOS and Mac hardware. Craig Federighi will demonstrate new features. Eddy Cue will take us to the iClouds. Jony Ive and Dan Riccio will show up in the videos. But what will they be talking about?
There's no doubt the headliners for this show, as far as the mainstream is concerned, are the new iPads. For a while now we've been hearing the iPad 4 will be getting the sleeker, slimmer design of the iPad mini, and it sure sounds like the iPad mini will be getting the Retina display that until now has been exclusive to the full-sized model. That'll leave screen size, and screen size alone as the single biggest differentiator. Do you want 7.9-inches of portability or 9.7-inches of productivity?
There are a few other lingering questions, however. Will the Apple A7 chipset run the line? And if so, will Touch ID? And if Apple has to redesign the Smart Covers for the new iPad 5 form-factor, might they take the opportunity to add features... like a keyboard?
The Apple TV was last updated in the spring of 2012. It went 1080p. Unless Apple takes it to 4K this year, and announces iTunes 4K to go along with it, it's hard to see what, if anything, else Apple could have to say about everyone's favorite tiny TV box. They could update the internals to keep pace with current technology, sure, but unless and until they get the next generation box project into production, it's hard to imagine anything crazy, hardware wise, this year.
Of course the Apple TV just got updated to its version of iOS 7, but unlike the iPhone and iPad, didn't enjoy the interface refresh the rest of its device family got. If Apple had the time and talent to spare, a new look for the Apple TV software would be greatly appreciated.
The new "Not innovating any more Phil Schiller's-ass" Mac Pro is, in Apple parlance, a screamer. The new machine uses Intel Xeon E5 processors, which won't ship until the third calendar quarter of 2013. This generation of Xeon E5 is based around Intel's Ivy Bridge-EP microprocessor architecture. Apple says the new Mac Pro's floating-point performance alone is twice as fast. Faster Error Correcting Code (ECC) memory running at 1866MHz, connected through a four-channel controller, means the new Mac Pro has twice the memory bandwidth of its predecessor as well. And that's just the beginning. Really, all we're waiting for it to find out how big a loan we'll need to take out to afford the top-of-the-line model!
Last year Apple introduced MacBook Pros with Retina Displays, and many folks watching the Mac market have assumed that it's only a matter of time before the rest of the line has them too. That may be true, but the newly redesigned Mac Pro is going to leapfrog that by offering something that so far, no other Mac can handle - 4K video. And not just 4K video, but 4K video on three screens. Going Retina on the 27-inch Thunderbolt Display probably won't happen any time soon. But what about going 4K with an Apple logo on it?
Apple introduced the 13- and 15-inch MacBook Pros just last year, so there's no redesign this time around. What there is, however, is a bump up to Intel's new Haswell chipsets. The MacBook Airs got them back in June. The iMacs got them in September. October they go MacBook Pro. And it's about time too, because the original Retina MacBook Pros redlined their Intel HD graphics chips. The new chips should more than pay off the Retina tax, and make those already fast machines positively fly.
Likewise, Mac Minis have been redesigned recently enough that the Haswell bump should more than suffice for them as well.
OS X Mavericks - OS X 10.9 if you're keeping track of that sort of thing - was previewed back at WWDC 2013 and has just recently gone Gold Master (GM). We'll likely see some highlights of the same feature set shown off in June, but more importantly, we should get pricing and the general availability (GA) date. And hopefully that date will be, if not today, later this week.
The iPhone and iPad versions of iWork, miracles of multitouch productivity they may be, are aching for an iOS 7 makeover. Whether Apple has the engineering and design resources to devote to that right now, what with pushing iOS 7 and Mavericks out the door is the question. New versions of the icons have been shown off on Apple.com, but it remains to be seen whether changes are more than Home page skin deep.
iWork for Mavericks is an even bigger question. Apple last updated iWork for Mac back in 1812. Wait, no, 2009. Close enough. They have added iCloud support, and they have announced iWork for iCloud. They're long past due a kick in the innovation can. Let's hope we see it today.
back at WWDC Apple said Final Cut Pro X was being updated to support the monstrous power of the new Mac Pro. Could Aperture also get an update? Could Logic Pro X? The latter was just re-lauched a couple of months ago, so another new version isn't in the cards, but a new Final Cut Pro X version with new features would be great. Most especially, and Aperture update to bring it back up to speed with competitors like Lightroom would be enormously welcome.
The iWatch is almost certainly a 2014 thing, the Apple Television a perennial pipe dream (get a 4K display and hook up an Apple TV, right?), but Apple hasn't lost their ability to surprise. Sure, if you read every rumor, you spoil the show for yourself - like reading a movie plot then complaining you were bored by the ending - but otherwise we're looking forward to an amazing amount of new products today. The new Mac Pro shocked us at WWDC. Who knows what'll shock us next?