Grading the rumors -- assessing Apple's possible releases at the Chicago event on March 27...

Posted:
in Future Apple Hardware edited March 26
With a new Apple event in a day, the rampant speculation continues. AppleInsider weighs in on the current crop of rumors and reports, and discusses possibilities for the unusual event, happening far away from Apple's new campus.


First, the image

A lot of thought goes into what Apple uses for a pre-event image. This graphic, unlike the WWDC one, is very plain, and is the company's logo in a single line.

That single line isn't a uniform width. It resembles what you'd get if you pressed down harder on a marker -- or an Apple Pencil in an application that acknowledges the Apple Pencil's pressure sensitivity.




Rumors from mid-January of 2017 suggested that the second iteration of the product was expected, with at the very least a magnetic system allowing it to attach to the side of an iPad. More recently, Jun Zhang from Rosenblatt Securities suggested that a new Apple Pencil was coming in the fall in conjunction with the annual iPhone flagship refresh.

At present, the $99 Apple Pencil is intended to serve primarily as a drawing and writing tool. It features advanced sensors for tilt and pressure sensitivity, allowing greater precision than a typical stylus.

So, something to do with the Apple Pencil gets a B. Solid effort, but needs more precision.

At a magnet school?

Apple has never held a product roll-out at a high school before. Other than the rare press release without an event trumpeting new hardware, like the fifth generation iPad release in 2017, new products generally are heralded by an event talking about them.

Apple's last non-California event was in New York City in January 2012. It didn't have that much to say, but it did launch iBooks 2 as a platform to reinvent the textbook.

Classroom doesn't get a lot of airtime. When deployed across a range of devices, Classroom enables automatic connectivity with other iPads. In a scenario where iPads are shared, the app assigns students to the iPad they most recently used, while teachers can log individuals in to and out of borrowed hardware.




During class, educators are able to launch apps, websites or books remotely, with an option to lock all devices or device screens to refocus class attention. Teachers can also see what's on students' screens through a remote viewing feature called Screen View, either as a class or individually.

So, given the venue, there's a good possibility that we're looking at the release of the updated Classroom app -- currently in beta testing alongside High Sierra 10.13.4, iOS 11.3, watchOS 4.3, and tvOS 11.3.

The Classroom update release gets an A.

Apple's educational offerings can be expensive

The iPad mini was Apple's first nod to lowering the price a bit on iPads for education -- and others. The 2017 fifth generation iPad was another.

We know there are two new iPads coming. International regulatory filings in February, which have always preceded a new release, confirmed them.

Fifth generation iPad from 2017
Fifth generation iPad from 2017


What we don't know is what size they are, or other features of the device -- including Apple Pencil compatibility which at present only exists in the iPad Pro. Given the venue, if these iPads are going to be released at the education-centric event, then they are probably focused on updating the hardware, bringing the cost of acquisition even lower, or both.

Because of the solidity of the information from the international regulatory agencies, new iPads get a B.

MacBook Air rebirth, or new MacBook model

Another possibility for the event is a new MacBook Air. In the last few weeks, there has been a lot of speculation floating around about the hardware, which was previously thought to be on death's door as a product line.

Steve Jobs introducing the original MacBook Air
Steve Jobs introducing the original MacBook Air


The rumors have focused on bringing a Retina display to the unit. We're not so sure about that, as it would keep the prices up on the unit that at present isn't hugely less expensive than the 12-inch Retina MacBook.

Muddying the waters a bit, other rumors peg a new 13.3-inch MacBook, priced in line with, or slightly above, its MacBook Air laptop, which starts at $999.

The MacBook Air line last saw a minor update at the 2017 WWDC, with a slightly faster processor, and 8GB of RAM as a default. The present low-end price for the MacBook Air is $999 for 128GB of PCIe-based storage, a 1.8GHz dual-core i5 processor, and 8GB of LPDDR3 RAM, although third-party resellers offer additional discounts off MSRP.

We're not expecting a new MacBook Pro at this point. Maybe at WWDC, but not just yet.

For a grade, new low-end Macs get a C+. Passing grade, but just a little more work is needed.

If a Mac, what processor?

It seems inevitable that Apple will one day shift its low-end Mac hardware to an A-series processor. It wouldn't be the first time that Apple has shifted processor architecture, and accommodated the change with so-called "fat binaries."

Reportedly, Apple is working on a bridge called "Project Marzipan" which would allow iOS apps to run on a Mac, according to Bloomberg's Mark Gurman. But, the prospect of it going the other way allowing for macOS and Mac apps to be run on an A-series processor, would allow for the shift to happen sooner rather than later, and without massive developer involvement before any transition would happen.

Given that the major complaint from schools is the cost of Apple gear, Apple's shifting away from Intel in education-focused gear could serve to keep costs down.

We haven't heard much about the Mac mini in a while, despite Apple execs saying in 2017 that it was important to the product lineup. It wouldn't surprise us if we saw an A-series processor in it at the same time any MacBook Air-type device gets one.




This all said, we don't see hooks for any of this in High Sierra's betas, nor anything suggesting it in the iOS 11.3 ones either. We'd also expect it to be announced at a WWDC to get the developer community onboard first, and not as a surprise in a High School.

Shifting to the A-series processor at this time gets a incomplete grade, and handed back to the student. Good thought, but little to back it up at present.

Dark horses

The "silly season" for iPhone rumors is nearly upon us, and "iPhone SE 2" reports have been swirling for a while. We're not expecting to see it, if it even exists, at the event, and we certainly aren't expecting anything about the fall flagships either.

Also not expected is any news about Apple's Mac Pro rebirth. Even though Apple said when the iMac Pro started shipping that they were working on a "completely redesigned, next-generation Mac Pro" any news about a Mac Pro renaissance we don't expect to see until the 2018 WWDC in June at the earliest. As a reminder, in 2017, the Apple executives said that the Mac Pro "will not ship this year." That doesn't necessarily mean in 2018, either.

The Mac Pro at the event? Solid F. An iPhone at the event has a poor grade too -- but it gets a D instead, and a letter to the parents as a new iPhone SE would be nice!

Apple will do, what Apple will do

The grades are obviously based on Apple's past behavior, and subject to the whims of Cupertino. The venue gives us some idea of what Apple will likely push out, but only time will tell what's getting crammed into Keynote right now -- and it may be not all that much consumer-facing, given that Apple has really never had an event like it.

And now, your turn. Given what's been said is in the pipeline, what are you expecting to see from Apple?
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 43
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 5,904member
    My prediction? No hardware announcements at all. Apple has not said a word about new or updated products coming. All this speculation will do is raise expectations that will inevitably lead to pronouncements of disappointment and dismay at the conclusion of the event. It’s like a broken record.
    randominternetpersonurashidcornchipwatto_cobramacplusplusadm1
  • Reply 2 of 43
    I thought it was just one iPad coming? Normally the WiFi and WiFi + cellular are on different lines. Similar iPads, I.e both WiFi, appear on the same lines. At least that’s how the iPad pros were in May’s filing. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 43
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 2,544administrator
    platypusw said:
    I thought it was just one iPad coming? Normally the WiFi and WiFi + cellular are on different lines. Similar iPads, I.e both WiFi, appear on the same lines. At least that’s how the iPad pros were in May’s filing. 
    Going back over the history of the filings, the single line versus different lines is inconsistent. 

    We'll see what happens.
    platypuswadm1
  • Reply 4 of 43
    platypusw said:
    I thought it was just one iPad coming? Normally the WiFi and WiFi + cellular are on different lines. Similar iPads, I.e both WiFi, appear on the same lines. At least that’s how the iPad pros were in May’s filing. 
    Going back over the history of the filings, the single line versus different lines is inconsistent. 

    We'll see what happens.
    Oh okay, I only went as far back as May 2017. Will be interesting to see what they are finally :)
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 43
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 2,544administrator
    lkrupp said:
    My prediction? No hardware announcements at all. Apple has not said a word about new or updated products coming. All this speculation will do is raise expectations that will inevitably lead to pronouncements of disappointment and dismay at the conclusion of the event. It’s like a broken record.
    I understand where you're coming from, but Apple generally doesn't say a word about new or updated products coming. That's what the events are for.
    MisterKitjeffharris
  • Reply 6 of 43
    bkkcanuckbkkcanuck Posts: 720member
    lkrupp said:
    My prediction? No hardware announcements at all. Apple has not said a word about new or updated products coming. All this speculation will do is raise expectations that will inevitably lead to pronouncements of disappointment and dismay at the conclusion of the event. It’s like a broken record.
    This will of course lead to an increase of suicides -- for which Apple will be blamed :open_mouth: 

  • Reply 7 of 43
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 2,111member
    Apple ClassRoom looks like a fabulous foundation for a great product.
    But, to succeed, it will need great apps on top of it that provide high quality learning material.

    Also, education is moving out of of the centralized classroom with the teacher acting as an orchestra conductor towards more independent learning -- both in the classroom as well as outside of the classroom.  I am hopeful that Apple can anticipate and incorporate that trend into their educational products...

    I think it's important for Apple to do this quickly because momentum is building against them:
    Not only are students and teachers becoming immersed and indoctrinated into the Google learning environment, so too are school IT administrators becoming more comfortable administering and maintaining that hardware and software environment.
    ... Once it reaches critical mass...
    randominternetperson
  • Reply 8 of 43
    StrangeDaysStrangeDays Posts: 4,559member
    Apple ClassRoom looks like a fabulous foundation for a great product.
    But, to succeed, it will need great apps on top of it that provide high quality learning material.

    Also, education is moving out of of the centralized classroom with the teacher acting as an orchestra conductor towards more independent learning -- both in the classroom as well as outside of the classroom.  I am hopeful that Apple can anticipate and incorporate that trend into their educational products...

    I think it's important for Apple to do this quickly because momentum is building against them:
    Not only are students and teachers becoming immersed and indoctrinated into the Google learning environment, so too are school IT administrators becoming more comfortable administering and maintaining that hardware and software environment.
    ... Once it reaches critical mass...
    Eh. Growing up my schools had crappy IBM brand PCs for us to work on. They seemed ghetto. From what I hear the google hardware is the same, non-premium. This doesn’t exactly draw one in. 
    lkruppwatto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 43
    canukstormcanukstorm Posts: 1,454member
    Apple ClassRoom looks like a fabulous foundation for a great product.
    But, to succeed, it will need great apps on top of it that provide high quality learning material.

    Also, education is moving out of of the centralized classroom with the teacher acting as an orchestra conductor towards more independent learning -- both in the classroom as well as outside of the classroom.  I am hopeful that Apple can anticipate and incorporate that trend into their educational products...

    I think it's important for Apple to do this quickly because momentum is building against them:
    Not only are students and teachers becoming immersed and indoctrinated into the Google learning environment, so too are school IT administrators becoming more comfortable administering and maintaining that hardware and software environment.
    ... Once it reaches critical mass...
    Eh. Growing up my schools had crappy IBM brand PCs for us to work on. They seemed ghetto. From what I hear the google hardware is the same, non-premium. This doesn’t exactly draw one in. 
    "From what I hear the google hardware is the same, non-premium."

    Given their $300 to $400 price range, that would make sense.
    GeorgeBMacwatto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 43
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 5,904member
    Apple ClassRoom looks like a fabulous foundation for a great product.
    But, to succeed, it will need great apps on top of it that provide high quality learning material.

    Also, education is moving out of of the centralized classroom with the teacher acting as an orchestra conductor towards more independent learning -- both in the classroom as well as outside of the classroom.  I am hopeful that Apple can anticipate and incorporate that trend into their educational products...

    I think it's important for Apple to do this quickly because momentum is building against them:
    Not only are students and teachers becoming immersed and indoctrinated into the Google learning environment, so too are school IT administrators becoming more comfortable administering and maintaining that hardware and software environment.
    ... Once it reaches critical mass...
    Eh. Growing up my schools had crappy IBM brand PCs for us to work on. They seemed ghetto. From what I hear the google hardware is the same, non-premium. This doesn’t exactly draw one in. 
    Ah, those were the days. When my children were in elementary school in the late 80s  and early 90s the school district held public meetings about what computers to buy. Parents were adamant that children be using “real” computers, ones they would be using in real life. Apple was not even allowed to submit a bid. Years later I heard anecdotal stories about those same children, now college students, running into Macs in “real life”. My oldest son went to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign engineering college. He walked into his first engineering lab to find it was all Macs. Funny now that I think back about it.
    edited March 19 king editor the gratecornchipwatto_cobrajeffharris
  • Reply 11 of 43

    At a magnet school?

    Apple has never held a product roll-out at a high school before. 
    Apple missed a real opportunity here...

    They could've held the product rollout in Ft. Leavenworth, KS -- at the famous Jr. Junior High School -- named after Gen. George S. Patton Jr.   :)

    As to the school-related rollout:   I suspect that Apple will offer special-price packages for schools and students -- including hardware, software, apps, services and training.

    I wish Apple had a more powerful router offering.
    edited March 19 watto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 43
    fallenjtfallenjt Posts: 3,817member
    Probably iPad Pro and Pencil announcement. Maybe, Tim Cook will add "One More Thing": iPhone SE2 which is in Copper color. Who knows.
  • Reply 13 of 43
    hodarhodar Posts: 227member
    The Mac Mini was never intended to be a performance workhorse, it was intended to be a basic desktop so that a person could get into the Mac universe economically and learn what it had to offer; and with the intro price of ~$500, and possible upgrade, it was a very attractive offer. Today, you pay ~$600-800 for a non-upgradable, poor performing desktop that is simply non-competitive against similar competitor brands. My original i5 Mac Mini was $499, bumped it to 16 GB and it's amazing, added a 256GB SDD to make a 750GB Fusion, and it's a workhorse. How about bringing back the spirit the original (up until 2016) Mac Mini had? Allow users to upgrade memory, and add a second SSD or HDD. It's pretty inexcusable that my used 2012 i7 Mac Mini with 16 GB and a 1TB drive kicks the socks off of any i7 in ANY Mac Mini configuration you can buy today.
    avon b7adm1
  • Reply 14 of 43

    Classroom doesn't get a lot of airtime. When deployed across a range of devices, Classroom enables automatic connectivity with other iPads. In a scenario where iPads are shared, the app assigns students to the iPad they most recently used, while teachers can log individuals in to and out of borrowed hardware.




    During class, educators are able to launch apps, websites or books remotely, with an option to lock all devices or device screens to refocus class attention. Teachers can also see what's on students' screens through a remote viewing feature called Screen View, either as a class or individually.

    So, given the venue, there's a good possibility that we're looking at the release of the updated Classroom app -- currently in beta testing alongside High Sierra 10.13.4, iOS 11.3, watchOS 4.3, and tvOS 11.3.

    The Classroom update release gets an A.

    Yes!  The Apple Classroom app is a great App -- especially with the Apple TV

    Your link to the  Classroom app has some interesting comments:
    entropys said:
    This would be excellent for business too.
    john.b said:
    I'd like to see a variation of this for home use.  Clearly if they'd solved profiles on iPads for the classrooms, profiles on home iPads couldn't be that far behind.
    Yes to both:
    • for business:  the board room, meeting rooms, training rooms, client and employee presentation rooms
    • for the home: uses such as the family reading together, each on his own iPad -- one person reads aloud, the others follow reading on their iPads -- often contributing by correcting pronunciation, emphasis or asking the meaning of a word or phrase  (no Mondegreen's allowed).  Periodically, the person reading aloud would tell another to read aloud.  Everyone really pays attention in anticipation of being suddenly called upon to read... fun and great for improving reading and speaking skills!

    While this is a little dated,  a lot can be learned by following Fraser Spears:

    Building our School's Third-Generation WiFi Network
    October 16, 2017
    Between Classroom 2.0, recent enhancements to Swift Playgrounds and the new "education edition" 9.7" iPad, someone at Apple is clearly listening to the needs of education.
    edited March 19
  • Reply 15 of 43
    Apple ClassRoom looks like a fabulous foundation for a great product.
    But, to succeed, it will need great apps on top of it that provide high quality learning material.

    Also, education is moving out of of the centralized classroom with the teacher acting as an orchestra conductor towards more independent learning -- both in the classroom as well as outside of the classroom.  I am hopeful that Apple can anticipate and incorporate that trend into their educational products...

    I think it's important for Apple to do this quickly because momentum is building against them:
    Not only are students and teachers becoming immersed and indoctrinated into the Google learning environment, so too are school IT administrators becoming more comfortable administering and maintaining that hardware and software environment.
    ... Once it reaches critical mass...
    Already has been done:
    No more pencils, no more books, no more clunky desktop PCs or laptops either. Instead, a private school in Scotland has given sleek new iPads to every single one of its pupils to use in class and to even take home, nixing the excuse that the dog ate their homework.
    It’s the brainchild of Fraser Speirs, the IT director of Cedars School of Excellence in Greenock, who wanted to solve the problem of the school’s computer lab, which had 12 desktops and 12 laptops, constantly being overbooked.

    https://www.forbes.com/sites/parmyolson/2010/09/02/the-school-that-gives-kids-their-own-ipads/#66a8403e31f9

    iqatedocornchip
  • Reply 16 of 43
    lkrupp said:
    My prediction? No hardware announcements at all. Apple has not said a word about new or updated products coming. All this speculation will do is raise expectations that will inevitably lead to pronouncements of disappointment and dismay at the conclusion of the event. It’s like a broken record.
    software is also a possibility since they did that once when introducing ibooks author. apart from the classroom app, apple might have an updated iwork suite, or new features that appeal to educators with each of the iwork apps.
    cornchip
  • Reply 17 of 43
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 2,111member
    Apple ClassRoom looks like a fabulous foundation for a great product.
    But, to succeed, it will need great apps on top of it that provide high quality learning material.

    Also, education is moving out of of the centralized classroom with the teacher acting as an orchestra conductor towards more independent learning -- both in the classroom as well as outside of the classroom.  I am hopeful that Apple can anticipate and incorporate that trend into their educational products...

    I think it's important for Apple to do this quickly because momentum is building against them:
    Not only are students and teachers becoming immersed and indoctrinated into the Google learning environment, so too are school IT administrators becoming more comfortable administering and maintaining that hardware and software environment.
    ... Once it reaches critical mass...
    Eh. Growing up my schools had crappy IBM brand PCs for us to work on. They seemed ghetto. From what I hear the google hardware is the same, non-premium. This doesn’t exactly draw one in. 
    It doesn't draw you in.   It DOES draw in cash strapped school districts who need viable solutions.   Google provides quality educational programs at low cost...   They have no reason to choose Apple except as an add-on.

    My grandson's school did teach him how to create & edit videos on iPads.   The rest -- mostly math -- is done on chromebooks using Google Classroom -- both in school and at home.  He actually doesn't think he can use a Mac to do that.   Brainwashed at 11.

    Apple has some catching up to do if they want to stay relevant in that market because Google took a lesson from Apple and provided the whole, integrated package that "just works".
    cornchipgatorguy
  • Reply 18 of 43
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 2,111member
    lkrupp said:
    Apple ClassRoom looks like a fabulous foundation for a great product.
    But, to succeed, it will need great apps on top of it that provide high quality learning material.

    Also, education is moving out of of the centralized classroom with the teacher acting as an orchestra conductor towards more independent learning -- both in the classroom as well as outside of the classroom.  I am hopeful that Apple can anticipate and incorporate that trend into their educational products...

    I think it's important for Apple to do this quickly because momentum is building against them:
    Not only are students and teachers becoming immersed and indoctrinated into the Google learning environment, so too are school IT administrators becoming more comfortable administering and maintaining that hardware and software environment.
    ... Once it reaches critical mass...
    Eh. Growing up my schools had crappy IBM brand PCs for us to work on. They seemed ghetto. From what I hear the google hardware is the same, non-premium. This doesn’t exactly draw one in. 
    Ah, those were the days. When my children were in elementary school in the late 80s  and early 90s the school district held public meetings about what computers to buy. Parents were adamant that children be using “real” computers, ones they would be using in real life. Apple was not even allowed to submit a bid. Years later I heard anecdotal stories about those same children, now college students, running into Macs in “real life”. My oldest son went to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign engineering college. He walked into his first engineering lab to find it was all Macs. Funny now that I think back about it.
    You might have a point -- and I may be worrying too much.
    It is very possible that students will be indoctrinated into the Google ecosystem in the lower grades -- but then come to their senses and convert to Apple products in the upper grades & college.

    We can hope.
    cornchip
  • Reply 19 of 43
    canukstormcanukstorm Posts: 1,454member
    Apple ClassRoom looks like a fabulous foundation for a great product.
    But, to succeed, it will need great apps on top of it that provide high quality learning material.

    Also, education is moving out of of the centralized classroom with the teacher acting as an orchestra conductor towards more independent learning -- both in the classroom as well as outside of the classroom.  I am hopeful that Apple can anticipate and incorporate that trend into their educational products...

    I think it's important for Apple to do this quickly because momentum is building against them:
    Not only are students and teachers becoming immersed and indoctrinated into the Google learning environment, so too are school IT administrators becoming more comfortable administering and maintaining that hardware and software environment.
    ... Once it reaches critical mass...
    Eh. Growing up my schools had crappy IBM brand PCs for us to work on. They seemed ghetto. From what I hear the google hardware is the same, non-premium. This doesn’t exactly draw one in. 
    It doesn't draw you in.   It DOES draw in cash strapped school districts who need viable solutions.   Google provides quality educational programs at low cost...   They have no reason to choose Apple except as an add-on.

    My grandson's school did teach him how to create & edit videos on iPads.   The rest -- mostly math -- is done on chromebooks using Google Classroom -- both in school and at home.  He actually doesn't think he can use a Mac to do that.   Brainwashed at 11.

    Apple has some catching up to do if they want to stay relevant in that market because Google took a lesson from Apple and provided the whole, integrated package that "just works".
    "Apple has some catching up to do if they want to stay relevant in that market because Google took a lesson from Apple and provided the whole, integrated package that "just works".

    And they provided it at no more than half the price.
    GeorgeBMac
  • Reply 20 of 43

    I just heard the latest Techpinions podcast where they were speculating what the event would entail. After rambling on as usual, Bob O'Donnell suggested that Apple should release a touchscreen MacBook Pro for $499! Even Carolina laughed at the absurdity of that suggestion.

    Bob's a regular Apple-basher. I miss Ben Bajarin and Jan Dawson on the show.

    I wonder if this event will be streamed.

     

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