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What to expect at Apple’s big Mac event

AP Photo/Mark Lennihan
Make some room.
  • Mike Murphy
By Mike Murphy

Technology editor

Published This article is more than 2 years old.

This Thursday (Oct. 27), Apple will be showing off some new hardware at its Cupertino, California headquarters. About a month after showing off the new iPhone and Apple Watch, this event’s focus is likely to be on Apple’s long-overlooked computers.

It’s not clear whether Apple will live-stream the event, which starts at 10am US Pacific time (1pm US eastern time). If so, it will likely be found here on Apple’s site, but be warned: You’ll have to use Apple’s Safari web browser or an Apple TV device to watch it. In any case, Quartz will liveblog the event, so check back for real-time updates and analysis.

We’ve considered everything Apple could present and given it an emoji rating, based on how likely we think a new version will be unveiled: A ✅ means we think it’s a near certainty, a ❌ means we probably won’t see any updates, and 🌁 means we’re, erm, foggy. It is in the Bay Area, after all.

Here’s what we might see:

New MacBook Pros ✅

Apple’s top-line laptops haven’t had a design refresh in four years. This may change. It’s rumored that the new Pros will have a thin interactive touchscreen sitting above the keyboard, replacing the function keys. The screen will be able to dynamically display information based on what programs you have open, such as controls for the song you’re currently listening to on Apple Music. The new Pros may also have the option for massive 2 TB solid-state hard drives, which would be a marked change for a company that’s been miserly with storage options in the past.

It’s also expected that the new MacBook Pros will have far fewer ports than the current Pros—they’re not likely to be as minimalistic as the single-port MacBook that was first released in 2015, but it’s looking like the new Pros will only have USB-C and Lightning ports, meaning many of your current peripherals won’t work without some sort of dongle. But unlike the new iPhone 7, it is expected that the new Pros will have a headphone jack.

Updated MacBook Airs ✅

Apple’s thinnest laptops have been given only minor processor and storage updates over the last six years. There were rumors that Apple might kill off the Air line, leaving the MacBooks as the lowest-cost laptops that the company sells. According to Bloomberg, Apple will update the hardware on the Air, stuffing in modern processors and ports, but won’t update the screen resolution. So if you want a high-resolution Retina Mac laptop, you’ll have to shell out extra for a MacBook or MacBook Pro.

Updated iMacs ✅

Apple’s flagship desktop computer hasn’t has a design refresh in four years, or a spec update in a year. Apple is likely to update its iMacs with modern processors and more storage space, but it’s unclear it there’s a plan to update the design of the computer. Apple probably will release a version with USB-C ports, and potentially new chips made by AMD, according to Bloomberg.

New external displays 🌁

Apple hasn’t updated its high-definition computer screens in five years, but apparently a new version will soon be seeing the light of day. The new displays are expected to output 5K-quality video, with the help of a built-in GPU and a new Thunderbolt 3 connection. They won’t work with the current MacBooks—without some sort of dongle, at least. Apple may not have these ready for Thursday’s event, according to MacRumors.

New Mac Pros ❌

Gizmodo is reporting that Apple’s high-end trashcan-shaped desktop computer will likely not be updated at this week’s event. It’s been roughly three years since Apple last updated the Pro. If you’re a videographer, animator, or other creator that relies on Macs, you will be left waiting on updates to the company’s most powerful machines.

New Mac Minis ❌

Similarly, Gizmodo says Apple’s smallest desktop is likely not to be updated this week, even though we haven’t seen a new Mac Mini model in two years.

AirPods availability ✅

Apple’s new $160 wireless earphones were unveiled at the company’s iPhone event in September, and they were supposed to be available in “late October.” They’re still not available on Apple’s website, so it seems likely they’ll go on sale the day of this week’s event if they’re actually going to go on sale in October.

One more thing 🌁

We haven’t had any surprising revelations at any recent Apple events–pretty much every new piece of hardware and software has been at least partially uncovered before Apple officially announces it. Perhaps this week’s event will be different. There have been rumblings about a new smart-home device to rival Amazon’s Echo and Google’s forthcoming Home. We haven’t seen updates on Apple’s newest Apple TV in the last year, so there’s a chance that we could hear about a refresh this week. It was also at this event last year that we first were introduced to the massive iPad Pro, so it’s possible that there could be some updates to Apple’s largest tablet.

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