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The Apple Worldwide Developer's Conference for 2022 is now underway, and the big announcement-filled keynote is behind us. As always, we (okay, I) made a bunch of predictions for what Apple was going to announce and a somewhat deep dive into the possible future of an M2 MacBook Air. Normally, my track record is pretty good with these prognostications, but this time I got more wrong than I'd like.
Let's deconstruct it all.
Apple did announce a new M2 processor. This processor replaces the M1, but notably, not the entire M1 line. It replaces the two-year-old base M1 and is the new entry-level processor in Apple's line.
Compared to the M1, Apple is claiming that the M2 yields an 18% CPU performance increase, a 35% increase in GPU performance, a 40% boost in AI and ML performance via its neural engine, and a 50% boost in memory bandwidth. It also allows up to 24GB RAM, whereas the base M1 topped out at 16GB.
Also: Apple Silicon, Rosetta, M1, M2, SoC: Why these terms matter to every computer buyer
The key thing to note is that the M2 will be the new base-level processor as of next month. The M1 generation has much larger dies, which makes the M1 Pro, Max, and Ultra possible. We can expect the M2 equivalent of the bigger processors later because they are evolutionary, not revolutionary, steps forward.
Just yesterday, I said, "So while we might see a new MacBook Air or a new M2, I'm betting against conflating the two." I lost that bet. In fact, Apple's big hardware announcement of the day was an M2 MacBook Air. So, yeah, that happened.
But I was also right about the M2, saying "processors rev for two reasons: (a) reduced cost and power consumption, and (b) performance." The new MacBook Air has an 18% performance improvement over the M1 Air and sufficient battery power to fuel video playback for a whopping 18 hours.
Although Apple didn't provide real numbers, the company did say that Macs with the M1 Pro and Max (and, we can infer, Ultra) are higher-end performers than the M2. So while the M2 does allow more components on its SoC (system on a chip) and allows system memory to jump from 16GB to 24GB, it's not a performance play. Apple is using the M2 as the base point for its incremental processor upgrade strategy going forward.
I did say that if Apple was going to update the MacBook Air, they would have to improve the terrible 720p camera, and they did. The new M2 Air will support 1080p as well as Center Stage. More interesting is that Apple announced a feature called Continuity Camera that will allow users to use an iPhone as a Mac webcam.
In terms of screen improvements, I was half right and half wrong. I did say they might upgrade their screen to provide smaller bezels and more display space, moving from Retina quality to Liquid Retina XDR. The amount of black space around the screen did decrease a bit, and Apple moved from Retina to Liquid Retina, which is basically a move from classic LED to IPS LED screens. But Apple didn't move to the higher-end XDR screen that's found in its fancy XDR display, and in the 14 and 16-inch MacBook Pro models.
When it comes to colors, I said, "with a low (but greater than zero) probability, the new MacBook Air might come in iMac colors." That didn't happen. But Apple did announce two new colors: Starlight (which is like rose gold, without the rose and not much gold), and Midnight (which is something like a 90% black).
Finally, I talked about the MacBook Air's iconic wedge shape in my earlier predictions. That wedge shape has distinguished the Air from the MacBook Pro for all of the Air's 14 years of life on this planet. Apple even has a patent on it. I previously said, "Apple may well remove the wedge if they have an all-over thinner computer, but that would still be unfortunate." So, I was right, but there are times I wish I wasn't right, and this is one of those times.
It wasn't as much that I got the new product introduction wrong as it was that I didn't even consider the MacBook Pro as eligible for update now.
With the relatively recent introductions of the 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pros, I didn't expect Apple to want to rev their base model. In fact, although I didn't say this in an article, I fully expected the 13-inch form factor to go away on MacBook Pros, ceding the space exclusively to the MacBook Air. Instead, they doubled down on the 13-inch MacBook Pro with a new 13-inch M2 base model.
WWDC, as a conference focused on developers, seemed the ideal time to introduce a Mac Pro. But there's no sign anywhere of an Apple Silicon Mac Pro. For now, high-end users will have to content themselves with the blindingly expensive (up to $52K) Intel model while they can dream of my suggested Apple Silicon redesign.
This one still baffles me. If Apple can fit an M1 Max or M1 Pro into a MacBook Pro, they can certainly put one in a Mac mini. Likewise, the M2. There's a ton of space in that Mac mini case. Perhaps Apple is planning to introduce a new case design, but given the taller (but identical footprint) of the new Mac Studio, I'm guessing Apple's going to stay with that design.
And yet, there was nary a peep about any kind of upgrade for this oldest of Apple Silicon machines.
I predicted a big update to FaceTime, and that happened. Apple's adding new collaboration features to FaceTime. But Apple isn't introducing "big widgets," as CNET predicted. Mark Gurman's prediction of an update to notifications was on the money, with a huge redesign of how notifications are presented across apps and integrated into Apple's Focus infrastructure. But the big update for iOS 16 is a highly-customizable lock screen, and that didn't show up in my crystal ball.
The Tom's Guide prediction of floating windows was correct. Apple is introducing its new Stage Manager feature, which will allow multiple windows to be displayed on an iPad screen or an external monitor.
And I'm not counting this against myself as a wrong because it's not wrong to hope and dream for something that should be a reality. Apple still has not announced Final Cut Pro for the iPad. Why, Apple? Why are you holding out on us?
I predicted more workout modes, and there are indeed some big improvements in the fitness arena. Gurman predicted some improvements to atrial fibrillation tracking, and while those improvements are still waiting on FDA approval, at some point, the Apple Watch will be able to track afib history.
I'm taking the win on this prognostication because if there's anything really new and big on Apple Watch, it'll come in September when the new models are announced.
I predicted improved integration between iOS, iPadOS, and macOS, and the various collaboration features Apple announced reinforce that. Continuity and Handoff got more sophisticated with sharing features that jump between operating systems.
We didn't predict Stage Manager, which allows groups of windows to be managed on screen. And while I hoped for MacOS Milpitas because I've always felt Milpitas deserves some love, the new OS will be called macOS Ventura.
I entitled my WWDC prediction article, "One thing Apple will for sure announce at WWDC (and four more it almost certainly will)." As it turns out, I got the one thing for sure completely wrong.
My sure bet was a plug for the Apple TV+ show For All Mankind, Season 3, which premiers Friday. Apple's recent events have always spent a considerable amount of time touting Apple TV+ content and the company's other entertainment offerings. With For All Mankind Season 3 hitting streaming on the last day of WWDC, I was sure Tim Cook would wax poetic on its new Mars-oriented chapter.
Nope. Radio silence. It was as if Apple TV+ was on the dark side of the moon. Nothing got through. I got that one totally wrong.
So there you go. I wasn't all right or all wrong, but I did miss some big predictions. What do you think about Apple's announcements? Are you going to scoop up an M2 MacBook Air or MacBook Pro? Are you excited about any of the upcoming iOS, iPadOS, WatchOS, and macOS features? Let us know in the comments below.
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