According to Ming-Chi Kuo (via 9to5Mac), Apple will be making good on a couple of the key expectations that consumers and tech pundits alike have for the Mac over the next year.
First off, it looks like Apple will be refreshing the remainder of its laptop lineup to include the well-received scissor switch keyboard that was recently released with the 16″ MacBook Pro. While he previously had speculated on models and time frames, Kuo now projects that remaining MacBook Pro and Air models will be refreshed to include the new keyboard by Summer.
This should be good news for any Mac fans who don’t care for the much maligned Butterfly keyboard mechanism that Apple has tried hard to fix over the last two years. I’ve seen and heard comments from many Mac users who are holding onto old machines while they wait for better keyboards to come to the rest of the lineup. It looks like that day is coming soon. Now Apple just needs to figure out how to either make the Touch Bar better and more inconsistent, or dump it, as well.
Kuo’s second bit of Mac news is even better and more anticipated. He is now putting a timeframe on the first Mac to move to an Apple-developed ARM chip. This move has been predicted and rumored by many, including Kuo, in the past. However, he now specifically says that this new machine should arrive between the 4th Quarter of 2020 and the 1st Quarter of 2021.
While Kuo doesn’t predict the exact model of this new Mac, it is easy to assume that it will be some kind of laptop, as such a machine would better take advantage of an ARM processor’s energy efficiency and lesser heat demands. Personally, I think Apple will bring back the MacBook line that it phased out last year as a new thin and light entry-level device. This would give the MacBook line, which never worked well with under-powered Intel chips, a new identity that would make it relevant again. It would also set a modest expectation level for the new ARM processor while Apple gets a feel for how a wider rollout of its own chips will look across the Mac lineup. It seems like a good fit to me and a good way to set a new ARM Mac laptop apart.
These weren’t Kuo’s only Mac predictions this week. He also believes that Apple will begin a major redesign of its laptops in 2021. This sounds reasonable, as the current MacBook Air and MacBook Pro haven’t deviated much from the basic design language that Apple has used for its laptops for several years now. Sure, the bezels are smaller and the chassis are thinner and lighter, but there hasn’t been a major shift other than the now-abandoned MacBook in a while, and it turned out to be a dead end. It’s time for some new and fresh ideas in the lineup.
The main takeaway here for me is that Apple is still far from done with the Mac. Between finally moving completely past the Butterfly keyboard detour and harnessing the power of their own silicone team, there is a lot for Mac fans to look forward to this year.