Apple plans to release a new replacement for the MacBook Air (and possibly the current MacBook) with a retinal display later this year, according to a report in Bloomberg. More surprisingly, the report also claims that an updated Mac mini is just around the corner.
The report comes from Bloomberg's Mark Gurman, who has recently built a reputation for key Apple initiatives and products before being announced. As always, his report mentions "people who are familiar with Apple's plans."
The new Mac mini would be more pro-user-centric than its predecessor, the report says, with more powerful specifications but steeper pricing. The previous Mac mini is something of a cult hit with independent software developers; This report suggests that Apple will double this. That would put the Mac mini further away from one of its original purposes ̵
Since the Mac mini has not been updated for a long time, users began to suspect that the font for the device was against the wall. But Apple has previously promised that this is not the case. In an e-mail to a customer late last year, Apple CEO Tim Cook said the Mac mini was not dead. He wrote:
I'm glad you love the Mac mini. We love it too. Our customers have found so many creative and interesting applications for the Mac mini. While it's not time to share any details, we plan to make the Mac mini an important part of our product line in the future.
The last major update of the Mac mini was not well received by users and critics. Released in 2014, it has eliminated the quad-core CPU option and frustrated per-user with steep performance requirements. It was also less serviceable and expandable, and we lost the configuration of the Mac mini-server – and an expansion bay for 2.5-inch drives. And here is a treat that shows how old-fashioned the 2014 Mini is: it only supports 4K displays or 30Hz TVs.
The new MacBook
And then there's the new MacBook. The text of the report implies that the new machine will bring together the MacBook Air and MacBook product lines, taking on the MacBook Air's industrial design and the MacBook's high-resolution display. (Hopefully, the MacBook will not lend it any ports.)
The basic design of the Apple MacBook Air has been virtually unchanged for several years. It's the only Mac in Apple's current lineup that lacks a "Retina" (HiDPI) display. It's also the only Mac notebook with full size USB A ports in place of the new USB C standard and the only one without the butterfly keyboard design.
On the other hand, today's MacBook offers the new keyboard design and USB-C / Thunderbolt 3, but has only a port, which you'll likely need to use to plug in the power supply. It's also very expensive for such a limited machine: it starts at $ 1,299. These two machines are probably geared towards a similar market, so it makes sense to combine their strengths in one product, if that is feasible.
According to the Bloomberg report, the new MacBook will have a 13-inch screen and similar dimensions to the MacBook Air, but it will reduce the size of the bezels around the screen. The report does not contain much more details except to say that Apple hopes that this machine will dent the education market.
It has recently been reported that Chromebooks have more than 60 percent market share in K-12 institutions in the United States. Apple's attempts to push the iPad as an alternative have been successful in just a few schools and grades, and the current MacBook is simply too expensive for most schools.
When Apple released Macs in the fall, it usually did in October, but nothing is certain. In a likely event in September, when Apple is likely to announce new iPhone models, we could find out more. (This Bloomberg report also reiterates earlier reports that Apple will introduce three new iPhones and two new iPad Pro models this year.)