Two fall Apple events are behind us and it looks very much like there’s one still left to go. We have two Apple Watches, an iPad, a new iPad Air, four new iPhones, a HomePod Mini and several new MagSafe accessories, but it still looks very much like Apple isn’t done for 2020. So what’s left to go?
Return of the Mac
We’ve known this one has been coming for a while. Unless something crazy happens, they will be releasing the first Apple Silicon Mac or Macs this year. Well, this year is quickly running out and the last chance for an announcement is November. Most of the Apple leakers and experts seem to be confident that a November event is happening, and such an event wouldn’t be necessary without a tentpole hardware product like this.
What we don’t know is which Mac or Macs Apple will be focusing on first. Rumors have mentioned a 13″ MacBook Pro, as well as a similarly sized MacBook Air. An upgraded iMac has also been reported on, but usually with a 2021 release date. There was also a more recent report that Apple may revive the MacBook branding for an ultrathin laptop that would be perfect for the new, more efficient Apple Silicon. However, despite all of the reports, no one has made definitive predictions on which Macs are debuting at this event yet.
Whatever Apple releases this year, it will be under the microscope as the tech world looks to see if Apple’s own processors can strike the right balance between efficiency and performance. The pressure is on, as Microsoft has a two year head start on their ARM transition (although it isn’t going that well) and just released it’s second gen Surface Pro X with an ARM processor. I think Apple designing their own chips and controlling the entire stack gives them a big advantage, but it will be interesting to see if they can leap ahead right out of the gate.
Even though I’m not a Mac user and probably not buying this year, I still look forward to this reveal for all we will learn about Apple’s new processors and how they have been adapted for a more traditional computing environment. Considering how polished the two streamed events we have seen have been, I expect the Mac event to be another great show with lots of demos and details.
The old switcharoo
From the summer into the early fall, it seemed that both the AirPods Studio headphones and AirTags location trackers would be on the agenda at some point in 2020. However, Jon Prosser changed his tune on the AirTags a few weeks ago, saying they had been pushed back to 2021.
I’m told the AirTags delay is due to the COVID situation in the Eastern market.
AirTags are heavily dependent on pinging other iPhones to be accurate.
They’ll still be a successful product launch, but the question is: would they be more successful in March 2021? Probably… https://t.co/P6EzR6fnhw
— Jon Prosser (@jon_prosser) October 9, 2020
At the time, the prediction was that Apple would likely be releasing the AirPods Studio along with the iPhones at last week’s event. Obviously that didn’t happen. In fact, just before the event, Prosser changed his predictions on both device based on a supposed change by Apple due to production problems with the AirPods Studio:
Major hiccup in AirPods Studio production 😬
A few key features have now been cut.
Seems they still need to work some things out before we have final units.
Looking like they won’t be ready to ship until December AT BEST. pic.twitter.com/oRRTXJQVhH
— Jon Prosser (@jon_prosser) October 14, 2020
With AirPods Studio now being pushed back, it now looks like Apple is going to launch AirTags after all.
Currently, they’re on schedule to be released with iOS 14.3 (iOS 14.3 will contain features enabled for AirTags) and iOS 14.3 is supposed to be next month..
— Jon Prosser (@jon_prosser) October 14, 2020
Okay, how about “One More Thing” ?
After this November ARM Mac event, the next Apple Event (currently a digital event) will happen on Tuesday, March 16, 2021 🗓
— Jon Prosser (@jon_prosser) October 16, 2020
Dammit Prosser, I only want the good news. The AirPods Studio were the Apple product I was most looking forward to this year. I am excited about the new iPad Air and seeing how it stacks up to the iPad Pro. The new iPhone is fine, but it’s more of an evolution than anything else. The HomePod Mini actually looks more interesting than originally expected. However, the AirPods Studio look like something I would love to use. I still listen with my Beats Solo Pros often and the Studios should be a noticeable upgrade.
2020 has been a train wreck since March, so what’s one more small, first world problem for the pile. At the end of the day, I would rather have new headphones that work properly, so if there is a issue, it’s better for Apple to apply the brakes now and hold off until next year when everything is sorted out. It just sucks that waiting until next year with Apple means waiting five months.
As for the AirTags, I do look forward to picking up a couple to test them out tracking important items. They seem like very practical accessories if the price is right. That last bit is key, because we really haven’t seen much from the rumor mill on that front. They will only be practical for the majority of Apple users if they aren’t too expensive.
It doesn’t look like there is anything else left for a November event at this point. There have been rumors of new iPad Pros with Mini-LED screens, but they are almost certainly coming next year. Hopefully they will arrive in the same March event that Prosser expects the AirPods Studio to be in.
There have been more recent rumors of a new Apple TV 4K. It’s about time for a new one, as the current model is over two years old. There have been some interesting rumors of Apple beefing up the internals and going after console-level games for Apple Arcade to go with this device. There is even a rumor that the company will release its own controller to go with the new Apple TV.
While interesting, Apple has a long way to go to get itself involved in the console wars. They’ve dropped the ball on gaming before, so they will have a TON to prove before buyers look to them as a real player in set top gaming. Also, while these rumors are interesting, it’s all but confirmed that this hardware is coming next year.
That’s pretty much it for the current rumor mill. Apple has managed to clear the decks of everything else, even their more modest re-imagining of the AirPower wireless charger with MagSafe. The November event will likely be just like the one we saw last week. There will be a brief bit up front covering the AirTags and how they work with the U1 chip, and then it will be all Apple Silicon and the Mac the rest of the way. Considering how new and exciting this shift in Apple computing is, that’s just fine.