First off, a new Bloomberg report that covers multiple items lead off by saying that Apple will release a new iPad Pro in the first half of next year. This echoes an earlier report from Ming-Chi Kuo also talking about a new Pro coming in the first quarter of next year. When the rumors that a new high-end tablet would come in October didn’t materialize, Kuo’s information gained credibility. Joined by the likes of Marc Gurman, now this seems to be a very credible release timeline.
A new dimension for the iPad Pro
The timeframe of these reports also more closely fits the more typical 16-18 month cycle that the iPad Pro has been on since the device first appeared. Apple has been doing early spring events the last few years and a couple of them have prominently featured iPads. March would fall right at the 17 month mark from the release of the last Pro, so that sounds reasonable to me.
One detail both of these reports share- the new iPad Pro will feature 3D rear-facing cameras geared toward AR. In fact, that’s the reason the coming Pro is mentioned in the Bloomberg article, which is really about Apple’s broader AR hardware timeline. According to Mark Gurman, the new iPad Pro is the first step in a new AR-focused direction that will unfold over a few years.
Through the looking glass
Remember all those rumors and reports that Apple’s AR Glasses were coming next year? Well, prepare to be disappointed. Both The Information and Mark Gurman have heard from sources who recently attended a meeting in the Steve Jobs Theater at Apple Park about the timeline of Apple’s coming AR hardware. According to the information revealed in this meeting, Apple won’t be releasing their own AR hardware until at least 2021.
These new reports say that Apple will release an AR/VR headset sometime in 2021, with a more streamlined AR Glasses product not appearing until 2022. Damn. That is a little disappointing, but next year always seemed super early for a product refined enough for Apple to feel good about releasing. I have to admit that this new timeline makes far more sense.
The core of both AR products and the coming iPad’s AR capabilities is a new 3D sensing system. This iPad Pro will again be the first device to have this new system, followed by the next iPhone later next year. It sounds like this new system will also include an upgrade to Face ID, but no specifics are given.
One other notable piece of information from Gurman’s article is that there are over 1,000 Apple employees working on various aspects of these AR initiatives. That would explain the use of the Steve Jobs Theater for the meeting. That’s a big team and it indicates just how big of a project this is, as well as how important it is to Apple. I would also be very surprised if that number doesn’t grow significantly in the near future as these efforts continue to ramp up.
Return of the Mac
We have conflicting rumors on Apple’s rumored new 16″ MacBook today, First off, there is a report from 9to5Mac that Apple is holding private press briefings ahead of an imminent product announcement. Now, these briefings could be for the new Mac Pro and display or the rumored AirTags tracking tiles product, but if true, this does indicate that Apple still has some 2019 hardware up its sleeve that would likely hit tomorrow or Wednesday,
Zach Hall of 9to5 cites mounting supply chain evidence as his reasoning for assuming that these press briefings are about a new MacBook. However, there is a conflicting report from IDC analyst Jitesh Ubrani (via MacRumors) that says the opposite. According to this report, Apple has started production of the new MacBook, but the process has just ramped up and it is unclear when this hardware will be released.
It may be that neither one of these rumors turns out to be true, but if I had to bet, I’m going with the latter. If Apple was going to release a new MacBook with a new keyboard design, I personally think it would have come out a few weeks ago to better take advantage of the holiday shopping season. But that’s just my shot in the dark explanation.
All I can say is that, if you are interested in a new MacBook, Mac Pro, Pro Display or even AirTags tiles, pay close attention tomorrow and Wednesday. There is no way to know what it is right now, but something is likely to drop and it will almost certainly be a press release, just like the AirPods Pro were.