FEATURE: 11.09.20 – Just what could Apple be unveiling at its third consecutive Apple Event this Fall? It’s a mystery fit for Columbo himself (who?).
Apple has sent out yet another invitation to the media for a product announcement, this one for the month of November. Dubbed “One More Thing” on the invite, the Cupertino, California-based company is widely expected to — as was hinted earlier this year in June at WWDC 20, the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference — to showcase its first Mac with an Apple-designed chipset inside.
When Apple announced that it would be ditching Intel processors — something that it switched to from the PowerPC chip back in 2006 — it said that it planned to ship the first Mac with Apple silicon, its own ARM-based chips, by the end of the year. While the company also did say that it had exciting new Intel-based Macs in development, it is highly expected that a product of the latter will be the one unveiled at the November Apple Event.
But what type of Mac it will be, a desktop or notebook computer, is the question (“I’ll take ‘Mac Potpourri’ for $1000, Alex…” a small tribute to the late Jeopardy! host who lost his battle with pancreatic cancer on Sunday, November 8, 2020, the same ailment Apple’s late co-founder and former CEO suffered from and also died of in October 2011).
What Macs To Expect
Although he’s no Columbo (no, really, who is that?), the publisher of Apple World Today, Steve Sande, writing for “The Rocket Yard” blog published by Other World Computing (a seller of Apple products and accessories) says that there may be a hint in the augmented reality (AR) “Easter egg” included in the Apple Event invitation: the teaser shows an Apple logo displaying vibrant glowing colors opening up like a notebook computer. Based on this clue, Sande surmises that the first Mac with Apple silicon will be a 13-inch MacBook, or, as he notes, a smaller 12-inch version according to some pundits’ predictions.
Sande speculates that the first Mac with Apple silicon also could be a Mac mini, considering that many developers have been using the Developer Transition Kit (DTK) since June which consists of a Mac mini powered by an A12 Bionic system on chip (SoC).
Or, an iMac as well, since, as he notes, the all-in-one desktop Mac is long overdue for a redesign. According to Sande, it’s about time for a new line of iMacs powered by Apple silicon that gets rid of the look and feel from the early 2000s.
“Make a new iMac all screen (no metal ‘chin’ below) and incredibly thin, and the public would eat them up,” says Sande.
On the day that invitations for the November Apple Event were sent out to the media, Bloomberg published a report which reveals that Apple and its overseas suppliers are currently ramping up production of three Mac notebook computers with Apple silicon: new 13-inch and 16-inch versions of the MacBook Pro and a new 13-inch MacBook Air. According to “people familiar with the company’s plans,” the two smaller models will be showcased at the event.
As far as what’s inside, Bloomberg reports that the chips in these portable Macs will be based on the A14 Bionic chip that was first used in the iPad Air (fourth generation) and subsequently in the latest iPhones. These new Mac notebook computers will also have Apple-designed graphics and machine learning (ML) processors. Unfortunately, beyond the switch to Apple’s own chipset, these machines won’t have any significant changes to its design.
According to “other people familiar with the company’s plans” who spoke to Bloomberg, Apple is already at work on a redesigned iMac, however, the sources did not indicate if this updated Mac would be Intel-based or have Apple silicon inside and whether or not we might get a glimpse of it at the Apple Event.
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What Else To Expect
Also on the day that Apple sent out invitations for its November product announcement, in a report on what to expect, AppleInsider says that while the Apple Event is largely expected to center on Macs with Apple silicon — aside from Intel-based Macs that could potentially launch as well — there are still a few other products that could make an appearance.
First is MacOS Big Sur, version 11 of the company’s desktop operating system. AppleInsider reports that this would be the most obvious product to be released since the software, which runs on Apple silicon, is designed to make developers’ iPhone and iPadOS apps run seamlessly on Macs with Apple’s own chipset inside.
Second are the long rumored Bluetooth accessory, “AirTags” (dubbed “Apple Tags” by others), a device similar to Tile trackers that you attach to items you want to keep track of via your iPhone. AppleInsider reports that these tracking devices, in essence, would enable the Find My app to work with items that aren’t Apple products. Additionally, some rumors suggest that “AirTags” may even include a form of AR to show the precise location of a lost item on your device’s screen.
Finally are premium over-the-ear headphones called “AirPods Studio” which, as AppleInsider reports, will offer the audio quality of AirPods as well as the Active Noise Cancellation and Transparency Mode of AirPods Pro, but, all in a different package.
Also powered by the H1 chipset, “AirPods Studio” will offer the signature “Hey Siri” support of AirPods, although, according to AppleInsider, rumors suggest it will include additional sensors enabling other features including a proximity sensor in the headband to determine if they are worn on the head or neck. In addition, the use of the U1 chip has also been proposed which will enable it to be used with the Find My app if they are misplaced. Furthermore, as AppleInsider reports, the enclosed nature of these over-the-ear headphones should also help to create an immersive listening experience as well as enhancing the noise cancellation feature of this more premium Apple audio accessory.
However, AppleInsider points out that whether there will be time for the rest of these products to be announced alongside the announcement of the first Macs with Apple silicon remains to be seen.
‘Just One More Thing’
One could argue that the tag line for the November Apple Event — “One More Thing” — could be based on the famous line used in the television series Columbo which ran from 1989 to 2003 on ABC. Starring actor Peter Falk in the title role of Columbo (so that’s who he is!) as a homicide detective with the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD), at the end of each episode, Falk’s character always uttered the catch phrase “just one more thing” before he, catches, the suspect in question and solves the case.
In Apple’s case (pun intended), however, the catch phrase is a tribute to its late co-founder and former CEO, Steve Jobs, who famously would introduce a new, sometimes a surprise, product onstage during his keynote addresses at the Macworld Conference & Expo where he would put up a slide behind him which said “one more thing…” and would proceed to then wow everyone in attendance with, of course, one more thing to announce before the presentation actually ended.
In a story from back in October of 2013 by Forbes magazine about the five greatest “one more thing…” moments from Apple, the publication described a typical keynote address ending with every new product out on display, there’s a big farewell wave, and then a smile. As Jobs turns back to the crowd which causes them to go wild. Among the most notable according to the article (in chronological order, not as originally published) were Apple’s announcement of the iPod being compatible with Windows at Macworld 2002 in New York, the iPod shuffle at Macworld 2005 in San Francisco, a unibody aluminum MacBook (later rebranded as the 13-inch MacBook Pro) in October 2008 at a non-Macworld event, and FaceTime at WWDC in 2010.
However, what Forbes considered to be the greatest “one more thing…” product announcement by Apple was at another non-Macworld event in September 2006 when it was first announced that movies could be purchased and downloaded on iTunes, followed by the surprise teaser of “iTV” (the codename for Apple TV before it was unveiled alongside the iPhone at Macworld 2007 in San Francisco), plus the added bonus of a live performance by John Mayer to end the presentation.
The “One More Thing” Apple Event from Apple Park in Cupertino, California will take place at 10:00 AM PST on Tuesday, November 10, 2020 and will be streamed on the web (because of restrictions on mass gatherings in public due to the ongoing global pandemic). To watch (and see whether the event is the bonus or if there will be an extra surprise announcement), visit: www.apple.com/apple-events/.
A Note from the Author: oh, just one more thing… special thanks to Scott Budman, business & tech reporter for NBC Bay Area News, for sending a copy of the Apple event invitation for use in this article (full disclosure… Budman is an acquaintance of this writer).