MAC TO THE FUTURE
Mac Life|July 2021
Apple is at a turning point with Mac hardware — but just where could it go in the next five or 10 years? Let’s imagine…
ALEX COX

APPLE SILICON HAS changed the game. It’s not Apple’s first big platform change — while it seems silly to include the 6502, the Mac has seen 68000, PowerPC and X86 chips before the M1 — but it is the most significant in, if not the Mac’s lifespan, at least a generation. The ARM64–based Apple silicon is a more flexible and more versatile system–on–a–chip (SoC) processor and, crucially, it’s Apple-designed…

If there’s one thing Apple treasures above all else, it’s control over its own platforms. Apple silicon, starting with the M1 chip, gives the company precisely that — an almost entirely closed shop.

The MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, Mac mini, and most recently, the iMac (p38) have gone the route of the M1. The rumour mill suggests the Mac Pro (already behind M1 laptops in terms of rendering power) will get its refresh in 2022, with a Mac Pro mini also anticipated. What happens after that? Apple has never been afraid of radical innovation, so why shouldn’t now be the jumping off point for a new generation of Mac hardware? There’s a lot to be learned from the changing direction of the PC, and much to be gained from incorporating mobile innovations. Let’s dust off the (admittedly rather scuffed) Mac|Life crystal ball and look at what we’d like to see in the world of Mac. Real–world rumors swirl about a future MacBook with a completely non–mechanical keyboard, no scissor or butterfly switches, just a flat expanse of touch–sensitive nothing. This sounds, frankly, like a horrible idea, so let’s start our journey into this imagined future with something better: the MacBook Touch, a laptop which puts fingers first.

The MacBook Touch brings the apparently doomed Touch Bar (we'll have to wait for the next MacBook Pro to surface to find out if it stays or goes) into the next generation. Apple makes it far larger, perhaps half the height of the keyboard, and gives it contextual interactions for every app, or full customization which gives the cleverly–titled “Genius Bar” a versatility it’s never had before. Perhaps the screen extends on to it in the style of Asus’ ZenBook Pro Duo laptops, offering extra real estate to secondary apps; maybe Apple finds a way to include the iPhone’s 3D Touch functionality, haptics, or even a morphing screen which can include bumps to delineate buttons or windows.

But why stop there? Let’s give the MacBook Touch a proper, full touchscreen; one with fingerprint– resistant glass so you can work effectively without peering through a film of oil. Add full Apple Pencil support, an Apple Brush with a textured and flexible tip for more immersive artwork, and borrow from mid–range convertible Windows tablets, allowing the screen to be flipped all the way over and set at a customizable angle for sketching and art work. Do the same for the iMac, on a larger scale. Wacom shuts up shop. The game is over.

COST–EFFECTIVE OR ELECTIVE

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