Apple is expected to officially show off the first computers equipped with custom Arm-based silicon chips at the “One More Thing” event on Tuesday. The company is promising the new chips that will deliver improved performance with less power consumption, and the switch also means that Apple computers will support native iOS apps due to the A-series chip. Apple mobile and tablet share the 64-bit Arm architecture.
The fact that Apple’s silicon-based computer is likely to launch on a Tuesday is not a surprise; Apple said at WWDC in June it is expected to ship the first Mac with an Apple-designed CPU later this year. But naming the event after Steve Jobs̵7;s iconic phrase suggests that Apple thinks this will be a pivotal moment for the company – and hopefully these computers will be worth the wait.
There’s always an opportunity for Apple to discuss other products. The company’s September and October events are more than just one product line; The September event features both the Apple Watch and iPad, while the October event focuses on the new iPhone and HomePod mini. The rumors, as always, suggest that Apple is working hard on many other products that may or may not see the light of day.
The event kicks off at 1pm Tuesday, so we won’t have to wait long to see what Apple is announcing what. Below is a summary of what you can look for.
The first laptop computer to run on Apple silicon
While Apple has only publicly promised to ship an Apple silicon-powered Mac computer later this year, the company appears to have plans to introduce more than one, according to Bloomberg. Apple is said to be ramping up production of the new 13-inch MacBook Air, 13-inch MacBook Pro, and 16-inch MacBook Pro, and will introduce “at least” two 13-inch laptops on Tuesday. However, if you’re hoping for a major design change to come with the laptop’s new internal architecture, that’s not in the card, according to Bloomberg.
The processor in the new laptop will be “based on” the A14 chip found in the new iPhone 12 and iPad Air lineup, Bloomberg reported. To give developers a leap forward in porting their apps to new chips, Apple has provided the Mac mini Developer Adapter powered by the A12Z, a variant of the A12 with GPU. 8 cores are also found in the most recent iPad Pros was released in March. Perhaps Apple will adopt a similar approach towards the A14-based chip in its upcoming laptops.
We found the A14 quite capable in our reviews of those iOS devices, and presumably, Apple will show off some impressive chip demos in its new laptops at the event. Let us know what its custom silicon will be capable of in the machine, too. It’s hard to talk about the speed of the new chips when Apple first discussed them at WWDC, but it looks like the company will go into more detail on the processor’s performance on Tuesday.
It also seems like a safe bet that Apple will talk more about Rosetta 2, can automatically translate some of the existing Intel apps, and how developers can make iOS and iPadOS apps. Their existing ones run natively on Apple’s silicon-based Macs.
However, if you’re hoping that Apple introduces a desktop Mac with Apple silicon on Tuesday, you might be in luck, as Bloomberg’s The report does not indicate that a new desktop will be announced at the event. Even so, Apple appears to have some other Apple silicon-powered Macs, including the redesigned iMac and the new Mac Pro.
macOS Big Sur will have a release date
If this is a Mac event as expected, then it looks like Apple will also be giving a release date for macOS Big Sur, the next big macOS update. Big Sur brings a big visual overhaul to macOS, with things like new iOS-style icons for Apple apps and translucent menu bars paired with your wallpapers. There’s a dedicated control center to help you manage settings like Wi-Fi, screen brightness and volume, all in one place. And it’s not just the overhauled visuals – Big Sur also features new system sounds, including the return of the famous Mac’s boot bell.
Many Mac apps also receive the update. Safari in Big Sur has a customizable start screen, tab preview, and a privacy reporting feature that lets you know which trackers the browser has blocked. Message final receive message effects, as well as features you may have used in iOS 14, such as pinned replies and inline chats. Maps also has a number of new features, including cycling directions and tram routing.
We may also see non-Mac products
While we expect Tuesday’s event to be mostly about Macs, Apple could definitely reveal non-Mac products.
Apple has long been rumored to be developing new high-end over-ear headphones, so maybe the company will finally announce them on Tuesday. The headphones are rumored to feature interchangeable ear pads and headband, noise cancellation, Siri controls, and built-in touch controls. However, the headphones have recently encountered some development difficulties, according to an October 26th Bloomberg report.
The headset appeared to have entered production “a few weeks ago”, but that milestone was pushed by the headband being too tight. Apple also reduced the size of the touch pads on either side of the earphones, and the headphones may no longer be replaceable, according to Bloomberg.
We’ve also heard rumors of Apple-made Tile-like trackers for quite some time – references to the product appeared in the iOS 13 beta code last June. Trackers, which may be called AirTags, are rumored to be small circular discs that could allow you to track things like your pocket or wallet through Apple’s Find My app. It is expected that AirTags will feature ultra-wide bandwidth technology to make tracking more accurate.
Apple also appears to be working on a new Apple TV with a faster processor and “upgraded” remote that may not be available until next year, according to Bloomberg. With that rumored release date, however, it doesn’t look like Apple won’t announce it on Tuesday. And since Apple announced the new Apple Watches and new iPad Air in September and new iPhones in October, we probably won’t see new versions of those products on Tuesday.