I could never work in the Apple rumour space – nor would I be much of an industry analyst.
My predictions for Apple events and product releases are always comically wide of the mark. In fact, they’re so bad, that I’d advise betting against me if you fancy profiting from my continual misjudgement about what Apple is going to do next.
I think this proves two things:
- none of us knows what Apple has up its sleeve – least of all yours truly; and
- if you have your eye on an Apple device but haven’t pulled the trigger in case it gets superseded – just buy it.
This year’s WWDC keynote was a case in point. I got several predictions biblically wrong.
There’s no stopping Apple silicon
The purpose of WWDC appears to be rapidly evolving. I remember when every second of stage time was reserved for OS and software updates. Occasionally, we’d get a peek at new developer-focused hardware or be treated to a new hardware release, but that was a rarity.
This year was different. Not only did we get a new Mac (more on that in a moment), but we also witnessed the birth of a brand new piece of Apple silicon.
In fairness, it’s a busy year for Apple. The company is rapidly approaching its self-inflicted deadline for transitioning every Mac to M-series chips. For that reason, 2022 was always going to be a bumper year for new hardware releases. But the next generation M chip? This early? At WWDC?
I didn’t think for a minute that Apple would announce the M2 on Monday. But they did. There really is no stopping them with this stuff, is there?
Oh, hello, MacBook Air!
The new MacBook Air is (almost) with us. I say “almost”, because there’s a curious lack of a pre-order date on Apple’s website. All we know is that it will arrive “next month” (July).
I assume there are some chip shortage antics at play here, but regardless, the M2 MacBook Air did make an appearance at WWDC. Finally, we know exactly what the new generation of the world’s best-selling laptop looks like and what it might be capable of.
I’m still surprised that Apple launched the M2 MacBook Air this week. For all its impressive power, it isn’t really a laptop aimed at serious developers. It’s the do-it-all, back-to-school, default MacBook for people who just want an Apple laptop. Indeed, that’s why it sells so well, but it’s also highly unlikely that many of its target audience will have watched the WWDC keynote.
Maybe we’re in for such a bumper of a Mac event later this year that Apple needs to spread out the releases. Or perhaps they don’t think quite as deeply about it as we do – maybe the M2 MacBook Air was simply ready to go.
Whatever, I got it totally wrong.
Lacklustre iPadOS 16
I must temper this particular misjudged WWDC prediction because I think I was partially right. As I predicted, we didn’t get pro apps (system-wide undo/redo doesn’t count, I’m afraid, Craig), the iPadOS Home Screen still looks the same as it has done for the last few years, and the depths of that M1 chip still haven’t been fully explored.
But things are looking up for the iPad. A bit.
During the keynote, Apple did something it has never done previously (to my knowledge). We heard about a new ‘virtual memory swap’ feature for M1 iPads in iPadOS 16.
Huh? Apple never talks about RAM on the iPad. We don’t even get to find out how much memory each device has unless someone digs deep into the system code.
The fact they are talking about this kind of computery stuff is rather encouraging. It gradually elevates the iPad from being nothing more than a massive iPhone. And, yes, this is an M1-only thing, but that makes total sense – it’s what I’ve been crying out for since they chucked that chip into the iPad Pro and iPad Air. Finally, it separates those iPads from the rest of the lineup.
Similarly, Stage Manager appears to be the first headline feature to tap into the power of the M1. I doubt it’s making the chip sweat, but it clearly needs more grunt than is afforded by the lesser chips in devices like the iPad mini.
If you’ve not seen it yet, Stage Manager is a new feature which appears in both macOS Ventura and iPadOS 16. You’ll need an M1-equipped iPad Pro or iPad Air to access it on the latter, but once you do, you’ll be treated to a completely new way of multitasking. All open apps are stacked to the left-hand side of the screen and the current in-use app is thrust ‘centre stage’ in the middle.
Stage Manager on iPad also introduces the long-awaited ability to place windowed apps on top of one another – up to four at a time. You can even resize them. And if you connect your iPad to an external monitor, you can finally create an extended desktop and house separate apps on both screens – that means two individual sets of up to four windowed apps. On an iPad.
Apple really is taking its time with the iPad’s M1-dependent capabilities, but talk of RAM, windowed multitasking, and proper external display support bodes well for the future. This is starting to get interesting.
No “one last thing”
Woah, Tim! Why are you wrapping things up? Why are you in the foyer of Apple Park, car keys in pocket, ready to head home? Why haven’t you told us that there’s one more thing to see before you clock off?
That’s right – there was no Apple silicon-powered Mac Pro at WWDC this year. Nothing. Nada. Not even a sniff.
I think this caught most people off guard. Leading up to the keynote, it was generally regarded as a certainty that we’d get a glimpse of the next-generation Mac Pro.
In hindsight, I’m not sure why we all thought that. Apple never said they’d unveil the new Mac Pro at WWDC, did they? We just all assumed they would. Clearly, it’s coming later this year.
The moral of the story? You can never second-guess Apple. Actually, I might stop trying*.
*of course I won’t