Calendar-wise, Apple’s Mac announcements can be unpredictable. The Mac Studio came out in March. Last year’s 24-inch iMac arrived in April. Over the past few years, MacBook updates have arrived in June, October, and November. It’s a far cry from the iPhone and its (almost) invariable September slot. There’s something to be said for simplicity.
But if there is a regular checkpoint for Mac news, it would have to be WWDC, the June entry in the above list. Some of Apple’s biggest Mac announcements have been made during the company’s summertime WWDC keynote presentation, as my colleague Roman illustrates in his rundown of the top 10 Mac moments in WWDC history. Software is the first priority at WWDC, but Mac hardware comes a close second.
Join us at WWDC 2022 on Monday, June 6 for full coverage of Apple’s announcements.
Of course, that isn’t to say that every WWDC is a Mac extravaganza, and it’s looking increasingly likely that this year’s get-together will come up short on Mac news. Which would be a shame, with so many of Apple’s Mac lines caught in limbo. But beyond that, WWDC is the proper audience for Mac announcements, whether they be Airs or Pros, and too often Apple lets a WWDC keynote come and go with nary a mention of the Mac (outside of macOS, of course).
If there’s one thing developers have in common, it’s that they all use Macs, and they all head into WWDC hoping for a new Mac to make an appearance. WWDC is tailor-made for annual Mac announcements, yet Apple’s most loyal customers never actually know if they’re coming. If Apple gave them all a good idea of which month will see the launch of a new version of each product, they can spend the other 11 months of the year happily buying the old ones. As things stand, everyone is unsure whether it’s safe to take the plunge because a new Mac can arrive at any time.
The waiting game
Let’s remind ourselves of the state of the Mac nation:
The last MacBook Air arrived back in November 2020 when Apple unveiled its first M1 chip. Analysts have been predicting that the next model will feature an M2, but it’s now looking like the next-gen processor won’t be part of the deal after all. Apple will have to sell the new Air off the back of an external redesign alone.
Apple’s flagship Mac feels oddly antiquated at this point, but that comes with the territory: hardware as premium as this gets updated at longer intervals than the consumer models, which means it’s rarely on the latest silicon. The current model came out in 2019; it’s seen some new component options added since then, but still hasn’t been upgraded to Apple silicon.
Like the MacBook Air, the M1 Mac mini has been on shelves since November 2020. And Apple still sells the high-end Intel version, which is the version we’re expecting to get an update. A new model with an M1 Pro chip could arrive soon, with a lower-end M2 version also in the works.
13-inch MacBook Pro
We don’t know what Apple is planning on doing with the 13-inch MacBook Pro, which has little reason to exist, but we’ll likely find out later this year.
The launch of the Mac Studio and Studio Display this spring means the expected launch of a new iMac Pro probably won’t happen until 2023 if at all.
In other words, WWDC 2022 should be a bounty for the Mac. But it doesn’t look like that will be the case. We might get a new Mac mini at WWDC, but it will be more of a placeholder than a blockbuster. Rumors suggest the next Mac Pro could make an appearance at WWDC, but it’s more likely that Apple will merely give us a sneak peek as they have with previous Mac Pro redesigns.
So of the five Macs we’re waiting for, two definitely won’t make an appearance (13-inch MacBook Pro and 27-inch iMac), another may be previewed but won’t arrive until next year (Mac Pro), and the last two might launch but without the M2 chip everyone wants (MacBook Air and Mac mini). This doesn’t sound like the celebration of the Mac that WWDC ought to be.
It’s not like there isn’t a precedent for major Mac announcements at WWDC. After all, the Apple Silicon transition was announced back in 2020. But two years on, when we should be looking ahead to the next generation M2 chip, Apple is in something of a holding pattern with its high-end Macs. The Mac mini hasn’t gotten an M1 Pro or M1 Max chip yet, the 27-inch iMac has vanished, and the Mac Pro is ridiculously overpriced and underpowered compared to the Mac Studio.
The M1 and its variants have been an undoubted success, but Apple, like most dominant companies, has a tendency to sit on its laurels. Mac users are ready for the M2, and WWDC would be the perfect time to unveil it.
So here’s hoping Apple will spring a few surprises and maybe even One More Thing on Monday. Because it’s looking like it could be another “soft” year for the Mac.