It may not be clear from unit sales that apparently were plateauing before Apple stopped reporting them every quarter, but its most popular Macs – its laptops – face an existential crisis. MacBooks have routinely sold at prize prices compared to competing notebooks, so customers can in some cases buy two new laptops for Windows for the price of a single MacBook Pro. But Apple's trick, a combination of durability and cutting-edge design, has been enchanted by a year-long dependency on lightly damaged "butterfly" keyboards and raw materials technologies, including LED displays and Intel chips.
Big changes now appear to be on the horizon. Here are the three key upgrades that MacBooks are likely to receive over the next 1
Glass Fiber Keyboards
Apple's butterfly keyboards have been even more a public relations disaster than an engineering debacle since their controversial debut in 2015. Introduced with the company's ultra-thin 12-inch MacBook and subsequently added to the MacBook Pros and MacBook Airs, The butterfly keyboard was designed to reduce portable chassis size by slimming key mechanisms. Initially, the complaints focused on the keys "reduced" travel – the shorter, clearly affirmed distance between the unprinted and the full-fledged – but over time, the bigger problem became their greater susceptibility to damage, including stickiness and direct failure. Several times since 2015, taking advantage of free repair programs and warranty extensions to alleviate user issues
The Butterfly design is so contaminated that it needs to be replaced, and Apple has two obvious choices: Long-time Apple patrons know the company has used years of working with haptic touchscreen keypads for laptops – that can eliminate physical keys for glass screens that can provide tactile feedback with each key press. A version without haptics can be seen in the MacBook Pros with Touch Bars.
Poor Answer on Touch Bar suggests that it is not the solution that most customers want or are ready to see as a full keyboard replacement at this time. If anything, many professional users – a key circle for Apple laptops – will have deeper keys with larger travel, but would accept something that "just works" reliably over time.
The actual solution, according to analyst Ming-Chi Kuo (via 9to5Mac), will be a revised version of case switch design found in former Apple keyboards. Presumably, fiberglass will be used for internal reinforcement of the keys, which were previously primarily plastic inside, and the keypad will provide more travel and superior durability. It should be seen whether the material and other changes will actually prove more resilient over many years of use, but many Mac users would like to support a return to a documented design – even if MacBooks need to be a millimeter or two thicker to support it.
Should Apple actually go thicker with future MacBooks? If it can thin other elements in laptops, the answer is no, and thanks to an unexpected problem with iPhone sales, it may be in the cards for the next laptop updates. Over the past year, sales of high-end iPhones have stabilized or declined slightly after years of solid growth, and Apple has chosen to cut iPhone production rather than adjust prices to boost demand. Therefore, it has not bought as many OLED iPhone monitors as it was contractually obliged to buy from Samsung, which led to a $ 800 billion. (681 million) Reimbursement, Reuters Reports, apparently offset Samsung for an Apple-specific production facility being underutilized.
Before confirming the refund, Apple was told to negotiate with Samsung to convert some of its iPhone OLED purchases to OLED & # 39; s portable or tablet size, a step that could fundamentally change the ways MacBooks and / or iPads look and foal. As Apple Watches and iPhone X / XS models demonstrate, OLEDs can simultaneously reduce single-frame screen frames, eliminating the need for backlighting and producing deeper blacks than LED displays. On a MacBook, it can lead to a smaller footprint, a thinner top chassis, and a screen that seems to blend seamlessly into its glass frame.
Historically, major pixel density display and manufacturing challenges have been discouraged by Apple (and many other companies) from using LEDs in laptops – a situation that could change as large OLEDs become more common on TV and drop in price. Being forced to waste nearly $ 700 million if otherwise unused OLED production capacity can give Apple the incentive it needs to switch the switch rather than later. But the company also looked at mini-LEDs as an alternative, Kuo noted again in April due to price advantages.
There does not seem to be any question at this time that Apple will move away from Intel processors to its own CPUs and GPUs over the next one and a half year. Although some observers were optimistic that an ARM-powered Mac could debut at this year's WWDC, it did not happen, but several reports have claimed that this will happen from 2020. The transition seems likely to start with Apple Apple processors from laptop rather than in desktop classes, so the company's lower-power MacBooks will lead the way instead of computing iMac Pros or Mac Pros.
For Apple, which manages one of the major sources of Mac software (Mac App Store) and has lots of experience with dramatic chip transitions, the Intel-to-ARM switch has fewer risks than most other companies. On the software side, Mac's previous Power PC chips switch to Intel was smoother than expected, and Apple seems to lay the groundwork for an even lighter third-party app switch with features like Catalyst (aka Marzipan) and Bitcode, which will probably automate much of it the software conversion process for developers.
Hardware performance gains could be ridiculously large. Armed with Tablet-Class A12X Bionic Chips, 2018 iPad Pros is already competing with Intel Core i7-based MacBook Pros in raw computing power and delivering outstanding battery life in much smaller form factors. By 2020, Apple could choose to place very powerful chips and larger batteries in MacBooks or to keep performance similar in a thinner chassis.
That's probably the biggest risk for Apple, what will happen to users who rely on Boot Camp, Mac feature that lets Intel-powered machines start on Windows to run PC apps and games. A switch from Intel chips could kill Boot Camp directly and be able to push Apple to take another direction – let go of Windows support entirely (light), relying solely on ARM-compatible Windows applications (quite easily), allowing slow speed Intel Windows emulation (hard), or integrate Windows app support directly into macOS (hardest and most unlikely). Throwing the function completely will mean alienation and possibly losing Mac users who still need PC apps for some reason, so some kind of compromise would be beneficial if not needed.
Don't Expect All These Changes at Once  While there will certainly be some major changes in the near future, don't expect Apple's entire laptop to radically transform at the same time. Historically, the company rolls out new features to one or two machines at a time before embarking on any new technology, so much to meet production and component sourcing problems to reduce the risk of failure with new parts. OLED monitors can e.g. First appear in an advanced MacBook Pro before crashing into low-volume MacBooks, while Apple CPUs and GPUs can first come up with a thinner, more energy-efficient MacBook MacBook (purchased by people who does not use Boot Camp).
The only change likely to appear in Apple's laptops as soon as possible is the revised scissor keyboard. It will eventually arrive in 2019 MacBook Air models, which are likely to debut in October before coming to the MacBook Pros by 2020. The hot keys can quickly help Apple reduce the long-life problems around its machines and set the stage more dramatic improvements. in the following year.