As a fun exercise I would like to make some predictions for the 2018 September Apple keynote. There are two rumored machines that should come out.
The new Mac Mini
According to rumors, this machine will be geared towards pro users. As usual, the statement is vague. What pro users? Developers, animators, writers?
Current Mac Minis mainly serve three purposes:
- home media server
- “rich man’s raspberry pi”
- server in a colo
Professionals do not need home media servers, and since Apple does not make a standalone screen it means that the machine will have to be usable headless.
As such it will require Ethernet and power, which makes it possible to do away with all other ports. I expect Apple to offer a low-grade Xeon CPU option in order to allow for ECC ram and at least an option with 32G ram.
Why would Apple do this?
- Nobody uses underpowered desktops today.
- Apple needs and probably has a similar machine for internal usage.
- The work on Xcode automation is useless if one cannot have an affordable Mac server.
The new MacBook Air
I expect Apple to sanitize their offering. Nobody except Apple pundits knows how are the machines named before they enter the Apple store.
I believe that Apple will:
- Rename the current MacBook to MacBook Air.
- Discontinue the 13″ MacBook Pro without TouchBar.
- Introduce a new cheaper 13″ computer called MacBook.
This will make the lightest Mac have the Air moniker. The current MacBook is underpowered for the generic user and the current MacBook Pro without TouchBar is a compromised machine with no market.
CPU and Graphics
For CPU it will have the cheapest Intel 15W CPU Apple can get, with expensive upgrades to CPUs with the same TDP. It will not have a discrete GPU and no TouchBar.
People buying the Pro computer should be savvy enough to know which dongles to buy and people buying an ultra-light computer do not need peripherals.
However, Apple needs the Average Joe’s MacBook to work for most users today, not in an imaginary future. This means it needs at least one USB port. It does not need thunderbolt. It would be better with an HDMI port and an SD card slot but these are unlikely to be included.
I predict that it will have 2 USB-C ports for power and 1 or 2 USB-A ports (for symmetry).
If Apple wants to make this work they would need to backpedal to the old system. Even the new updated 2018 butterfly keyboard keeps failing. If they make a new body for this machine, it is possible that they would introduce a v4 of the butterfly switch mechanism.