Apple gave us plenty to chew on and digest at WWDC on Monday. There are new and refreshed iPad Pros, a new iMac Pro desktop, substantial upgrades to both the iOS and macOS, the latter to be known as HighSierra. Personally I’m most excited by the new File and Drag&Drop features coming in iOS 11, and perhaps a 10.5-inch iPad Pro to run them on. I was especially pleased that the analog Home button survived the 10.5-inch iPad new design’s screen margin shrinkage. The 9.7-inch iPad Pro is a goner to redundancy, having been pre-replaced in a sense by the $329.00 iPad earlier this year — now the last survivor with the original 9.7-inch iPad screen size. Unfortunately, they weren’t able to retain the 9.7-incher’s footprint in the 10.5-inch model, which is slightly larger (9.8×6.8″ vs 9.4×6.6″)and will likely not fit in any iPad cases you might have on hand.
However I was disappointed that the announcement I was anticipating most got the short schrift, literally. There was no press release heralding what turned out to be a modest speed bump for the entire MacBook line And a bit of other tweaking for the 12-inch MacBook.
Worst of all from my perspective, while Apple finally did give the MacBook Air a processor upgrade, it was just for higher clock speed versions (1.8GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 or 2.2GHz dual-core Intel Core i7) of the fifth-generation Intel Broadwell CPUs rather than the current seventh-generation Kaby Lake silicon that the rest of the line got. And nothing else; no USB-C port, no Retina display, no upgraded SSDs. At least my previous model MacBook Air with its slower Broadwell silicon is not rendered hopelessly out-of-date by this latest edition. One infers that Apple would really like to kill off the MacBook Air, but is dissuaded from doing so by its continued robust sales, and presumed high profit margin even starting at $999 due to its design. and development costs having been long-since amortized, its use of 2015 technology silicon, and the non-Retina display. It also remains very popular with with buyers, partly because it starts at $999, but also with those who want a Mac notebook, but find themselves underwhelmed by the current generation MacBook Pros (with or without Touch Bar) and the 12-inch MacBook. The MacBook Air and the holdover last-generation MacBook Pros remain the only Mac notebooks with decent keyboards still available new.
The second-generation MacBook Air is of course also a brilliant design that has aged gracefully, and which was largely the inspiration for the Intel Ultrabook revolution in Windows PC space. It still looks great, weighs only three pounds, is a reasonably lively performer despite the well behind the cutting edge processors, and has a handy expansion card slot which the current MacBook Pros and MacBook inconveniently don’t. Two standard USB ports and the brilliant MagSafe power connector respectively eliminate the need for a tangle of adapter dongles and protect the MacBook Air from taking unscheduled flights across the room. The rest of the current MacBook lines all get seventh generation Intel Kaby Lake CPUs.
The 12-inch MacBook, which heretofore has been powered by relatively poky Intel Core M and Skylake Core M processors, gets Kaby Lake CPUs up to 1.4 GHz Core i7 with Turbo Boost up to 3.6 GHz. The 12-incher can also now be ordered with up to 16GB of RAM.
The 13-inch MacBook Pro gets Kaby Lake up to 3.5 GHz Core i7 CPUs we with up to 4.0 GHz Turbo Boost, while the and Turbo Boost up to 4.1 GHz. The 13-inch MacBook Pro has Intel Iris Plus Graphics 640 on the base model and Intel Iris Plus Graphics 650 on upmarket configurations. The upgraded 15-inch MacBook comes standard with a formerly optional Radeon Pro 555 discrete graphics processor unit (GPU) with 2GB of dedicated video memory, with a Radeon Pro 560 and 4GB memory available as a build-to-order option
Apple says all of the updated MacBooks and MacBook Pros (but not the MacBook Air) are getting up to 50 percent faster SSDs than the ones in previous generation models.
And maybe the shape of things to come, the base 13-inch MacBook Pro without Touch Bar gets a $200 starting price cut to $1,299, perhaps a step toward eventually replacing the MacBook Air as Apple’s entry level notebook.
The upgraded notebooks are now available at the Apple Store.