Apple Event on 27 October: time for a new Mac?

We all know that Apple is going to launch new Mac products on 27 October, at its ‘event’ being held in Cupertino. If it fails to, then we all know that the Mac is doomed, and Apple must deliver something seriously revolutionary if it wants to remain in the computer market.

Opinion is fairly consistent that Apple needs to come up with new MacBook Pro and iMac models. Although the latter might get by with just a fresh chipset, the MacBook Pro cannot get away with just catching up, and needs a redesign.

The future of the MacBook Air looks less certain. It nows sits in the gap that there used to be between top-of-the-range iPads and the MacBook and MacBook Pro. With the two new iPad Pro models, and progressive improvements to the other laptops, the MacBook Air may now be selling against models which Apple would prefer to promote. If the MacBook is improved to keep it in step with the MacBook Pro, Apple could well terminate the MacBook Air product line.

Decisions get even more difficult when it comes to the mini and Mac Pro, though. Apple’s sole Macs without integral displays, they come in at very different price points, and with contrasting designs. The mini was innovative years ago, but has been left alone for too long, and PC manufacturers are now making it look antiquated. At the other end of the spectrum, the Mac Pro remains a brilliant design, but has failed to meet the needs of those running older Mac Pro towers. It is an expensive toy, not the desktop Mac of choice for the professional.

One solution to this would be a completely new component-style Mac which spanned the broad market from basic mini up to the high-end. I am sure that Apple has been contemplating this, it is more a question of whether its designers have come up with something sufficiently novel and flexible, and been able to sell it to its executives. Without that sort of innovative approach, I fear for the future of the mini and the Mac Pro, which must both be more vulnerable than even the MacBook Air.

I think that we are most unlikely to see any return to servers, particularly if a new modular desktop is coming. Just as with the mini before, those who need Macs to run as servers for workgroups should be quite comfortable using a headless desktop unit.

With new Macs coming, 27 October is also the most likely time for the release of macOS Sierra 10.12.1, and probably iOS 10.1, etc. This creates the perfect storm conditions which Apple is so good at conjuring up, whereby we are trying to watch the event live, while downloading hefty macOS and iOS updates, as is much of the rest of the world.

For those with almost limitless bandwidth, I’m sure this is most convenient, particular when 1700 UTC is comfortably early in the day. For those of us who will probably still be trying to update late into the local night, their wet string internet connection straining painfully, it’s an experience we could do without.

There seems to be no shortage of internal conflicts with third-party apps which need to be fixed in 10.12.1, but from my viewpoint the most important single improvement which Apple needs to deliver is a Console app which does something useful with historic log data. I’m sure that other developers, Apple support and development engineers are all just as keen to regain access to their Mac’s logs without having to type in commands in Terminal (or use my LogLogger4 tool).

I suspect that we will be provided with an updated kernel which hopefully sacrifices none of the stability of 10.12 for improved handling of heavy input/output, and we need some more positive steps to kill the remaining Bluetooth disconnects and graphics driver problems. But in those respects I could continue living with the small glitches present in 10.12.

This should be a week to look forward to. Please?