What will Apple's September 9th event mean for the Mac?
Apple's let the cat out of the bag: There will be an Apple event in September. It's scheduled for September 9th and it happens at the Flint Center, where Apple historically introduced the Macintosh 30 years ago. It seems like a sure thing that Apple will introduce the iPhone 6, but what role will the Mac play at the event?
All the invite says is "Wish we could say more," but the fevered imagination of some folks went into overdrive Tuesday after images of the invitation was published online. In typical fashion, as has become almost an annual tradition, some are trying to divine meaning from each pixel of the invitation image to see what they can learn ahead of the actual announcement.
We'll have to wait until September 9th to know for sure what Apple has up its sleeve, though it seems obvious that the iPhone 6 will be a central feature. What else Apple has to show is left open to speculation, though. An iWatch, perhaps? A demonstration of new technology in iOS 8 like HomeKit? Something else?
With the iPhone 6 tantalizingly close, and with beta development of iOS 8 winding down, what about OS X Yosemite? After all, iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite are inextricably linked: Apple's erasing the lines between them with Continuity, which enables you to more seamlessly transition between using your iOS device and your Mac. What's more, iCloud Drive is dependent on iOS 8 and Yosemite as well.
Apple's been churning out regular biweekly updates to OS X Yosemite to registered developers throughout the summer. And it's definitely looking better than it was in June — I've switched over to it full-time on one computer and can't wait to make it my regular operating system for my "daily driver."
I don't know if Yosemite is going to be done in time for the September event. My gut tells me no, but that it shouldn't be that far behind iOS 8's release, which Rene and others have speculated will be the week following the announcement.
I don't think it's an absolute necessity for Apple to release both operating systems at the same time. After all, tens of millions of iPhone, iPad and iPod touch users happily use their devices never having tethered them — or shared data on them — using a Mac or PC. For any of those people, an upgrade to iOS 8 will unlock new capabilities that they'll be just fine with regardless of what happens on the Mac.
On the other hand, the Mac is a burgeoning platform that's more popular than ever before. Apple clearly wants to make sure the Mac benefits as much as possible from iOS's popularity.
At the very least, I'm certain we'll get a better idea on September 9th when OS X Yosemite is coming.
I don't think there'll be any hardware-specific Mac announcements at the September event. If we take Apple's behavior over the past couple of years into account (and off and on years before that), then October is more likely for Mac refresh.
In October 2013, Apple introduced the iPad Air and released Mavericks at the same time, along with offering more details about the Mac Pro and refreshing the Retina MacBook Pro. In October the year before, Apple also tag-teamed iPad and Mac news, introducing the iPad mini, the 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro and the newer, slimmer iMac at the same time.
Apple sometimes uses an October event to introduce new Macs or new Mac software, but not always. Before 2012, you have to go back to 2009 to find any Mac news of import in October. So don't expect Apple to have an October Mac event just because.
Apple's Mac roadmap may be affected by Intel and its ability to release its new Broadwell microprocessors. The version of those chips Apple needs for the MacBook Pro won't be available until 2015, though a lower-powered version will ship in quantity this fall, aimed at the emerging class of "two-in-one" devices and potentially suitable for MacBook Air.
Apple's also due for a refresh of the Mac Pro. That computer uses a heavy-duty Xeon processor from Intel, based on the Ivy Bridge-E architecture. Intel began shipping Xeon processors updated with the Haswell architecture used throughout the rest of the Mac line over the summer; the new chips can sport more cores than the old ones and use faster memory for improved performance and computational power.
Anyway, expect September 9th to be about the iPhone and other stuff, not about the Mac. But don't worry, Mac mavens. Apple's got plenty up its sleeve and there'll be lots of fun stuff for us to drool over in the months ahead.