I've stared into my crystal ball and this is what I see happening in regards to Apple in 2017. First, let’s look at the Mac line-up, which was sorely neglected this year.
The iMac will be revved with faster Kaby processors and get updated graphics. For the latter, I expect the AMD’s Zen processor in most models, and and AMD Polaris Graphics set in a high-end model. The new iMacs will also implement a True Tone display, which uses new four-channel sensors to dynamically adjust the white balance of the display to match the light around you for a more natural and accurate, paper-white viewing experience.
I don’t expect the basic design to change (can Apple make it any thinner?), though I think we’ll see a space gray all-in-one (and perhaps other colors). It’s possible that Apple may offer all Macs with flash drives only, dropping the Fusion drives. However, I think that Apple will continue to offer Fusion drives. In fact, if they’re truly wanting to appeal to “power users,” they might offer a 4TB build-to-order option (right now a 3TB version is the biggest you can buy).
Naturally, you’ll also see USB-C connectivity come to the all-in-one, although I think Apple will still offer one or two USB ports since CEO Tim Cook has said that storage and more variety in I/O are a reason desktops are “really important, and in some cases critical, to people.”
It won’t happen, but as I’ve mentioned before, a couple of years ago, Kurt Merki Jr., dreamed up a concept desktop (pictured above) I’d LOVE for Apple to realize: the iMac Pro (pictured). It sports a tilt button in the front lets users move the display 20 degrees back and forth for optimal viewing angles, and makes sure the desktop doesn’t tip over.
Another thing I don’t think will happen, but which I’d love to see is the iMac gain the ability to charge Apple accessories by resonant charging. Apple has filed for a patent — “Wireless Power Utilization in a Local Computing Environment” — that shows an iMac-like device with a NFMR (Near Field Magnetic Resonance) power supply that charges nearby gadgets wirelessly.
Merki’s iMac Pro concept also has10x stereo, front-facing speakers. In other words, a Mac with a built-in sound bar. I love that idea and think it fits in perfectly with Apple's design aesthetics. After all, this would eliminate the need for external speakers — especially if you could attach a subwoofer that sits on the floor. Or, better yet, give us a wireless subwoofer.
What of the Mac Pro and Mac mini? I wouldn’t be at all surprised if Apple abandoned both products and promoted an “iMac Pro” as the desktop for creative professionals and a low-end iMac ($999 or less) as its entry-level desktop. However, I’m going to be optimistic and predict that both models will be upgraded with new specs, but in the same design. And if Apple shocks us with some blow-your-mind desktops, I’m happy to be wrong.
Also expect Magic Keyboards with Touch Bar displays built-in. That is, unless Apple decided to incorporate a Touch Bar into the bottom of an iMac screen. Hmmm....
When it comes to Mac laptops, the MacBook Pro and 12-inch MacBook will get bumped specs, but no major redesigns. I think the MacBook Air will vanish.
Less likely (though, again, it would show that Apple really is interested in its Mac line) is that Mac laptops will get 802.11ad and LTE support. Also known as WiGig, the former isn't aimed at replacing your wireless network. Instead it's designed to aid your existing Wi-Fi by providing a fast, direct link between devices.
Having 4G LTE in a laptop is nothing new and there's no obvious reason why at least some models of the MacBook Pro or MacBook. After all, the iPad line already has such options. And LTE is booming. ABI Research says that, by 2018, “LTE deployments should deliver population coverage of 57% (4.2 billion) and 31% (2.3 billion) in legacy WCDMA and CDMA2000 markets respectively.”
Of course, there is concern about attaching a laptop to today's high cost cellular bandwidth. That’s why it would be an option.
We’ll also see macOS 10.3 introduced at the 2017 Worldwide Developer Conference. It will include more iOS-like features, including adding support for the Health, News, and Home apps, as well as a system-wide Dark Mode.
2017 will be an important year for the Mac. It will show us whether Apple truly is devoted to the platform or whether it’s simply treading water.