The MacBook Family Will Continue to Evolve

Image of 16-inch MacBook Pro

Apple has recently shipped some really nice, updated MacBook Airs and Pros. But that’s not the end of their story. The MacBook family will continue to evolve.

2020 MacBook Pro 13-inch
2020 MacBook Pro 13-inch. Image credit: Apple

The MacBook Family Will Continue to Evolve

For starters, at Forbes, Ewan Spence writes: “New Apple Documents Confirm Ambitious MacBook Pro Plans.

Tim Cook and his team are expected to launch a significant update to the MacBook family in 2021 with a larger 14-inch screen in MacBook Air and smaller MacBook Pro, and the first release of a MacBook powered by an ARM processor rather than Intel.

Two new keyboard features are discussed based on patent analysis.

The first would be to allow the entire area below the keyboard able to receive touch inputs.

The second would be to add touch sensitivity to each of the keys.

Given the (healthy) competition between the iPad Pro and the MacBook family, it makes perfect sense to improve the MacBook’s touch input capabilities. (The display certainly isn’t going to go there.)

But upping the MBA to a 14-inch display when the 13.3-inch MBP cries out for the same upgrade is puzzling. This does explain, however, why the most recent update of the 13.3-inch MBP (in May) didn’t get a slight display boost to 14 inches — in the style of its 16-inch big brother. (It had been 15.4 inches.) Maybe it’s a supply chain issue.

Equally puzzling is a “smaller MacBook Pro.” I discount this completely as a misinterpretation of some rumor. But maybe it’s one of the ARM based models. Otherwise, I am at a loss. A 12-inch MBP isn’t a “pro” machine.

Of course, as author Spence reminds us, “The patents are all delightful, but a patent does not guarantee an appearance on a product.” Still, Apple’s MacBooks not only compete with iPad Pros, but with the notebook competition from Dell, HP and Microsoft. So one can expect Apple to always be aggressive on that front.

The Week’s Apple News Debris

• Meanwhile, also on the MacBook front, there is the enduring issue of when one should abandon the prospect of buying a MBA and seriously consider a MBP instead. Roughly along these lines, see this from Chris Matyszczyk at ZDNet. “A famous actor rages against Apple’s new MacBook Air.”

2018 MacBook Air
MacBook Air. Image credit: Apple. It remains a light-duty Mac.

Unfortunately, had “Clark Gregg, aka Agent Coulson from the Marvel Universe” selected a MBP for his graduate, he would still have been stuck with a 720p FaceTime camera. This limitation has been viewed as a notable mistake by Apple, but then author Matyszczyk’s story isn’t real clear why 720p wasn’t good enough for the Gregg family. Still, an amusing read.

• One of my most popular how-to articles of all time has been: “How To Convert iPhone Photos Back to JPG Format.” But it eluded the notice of the College Board and many high school students. As a result, The Verge reports: “Students are failing AP tests because the College Board can’t handle iPhone photos.

How to deal with HEIC images proves to be the hardest question of all

This is sad indeed. I can’t say Apple Apple is directly to blame, but it’s a sobering reminder that one should spend some time learning how the iPhone works and always be aware of the implications of Apple’s iOS technology updates that often become the default behavior.

iPadOS Home Screen,
iPadOS Home Screen, Designed for iPad

• Finally, over at TidBITS Adam Engst reminds us: “Why You Shouldn’t Make a Habit of Force-Quitting iOS Apps or Restarting iOS Devices.

When Apple’s engineers designed iOS, they took the opportunity to pare away behaviors and usage patterns that were unnecessary in a modern operating system running on tightly controlled hardware. Two of the most obvious were quitting apps and restarting/shutting down the device.

This is an essential read. Why?

For instance, once she learned in a TidBITS Talk discussion that force-quitting apps was a bad idea, reader Kimberly Andrew found that her iPad lasted 4 days on a single charge instead of requiring nightly recharging.

This is another one of those “the more you know” articles.

Particle Debris is generally a mix of John Martellaro’s observations and opinions about a standout event or article(s) of the week followed by a discussion of articles that didn’t make the TMO headlines, the technical news debris. The column is published most every Friday except for holiday weeks.

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W. Abdullah Brooks, MD

John: Competition between MacBooks and iPad Pros? Whoever heard of such a thing? Actually, it’s not only a thing, it’s bigger and broader than that, and is part and parcel of the messy process of evolution, to which we are more than living witnesses, but participants with a stake in the outcome. And yes, the competition is healthy. Our personal computers, most built around X86 processors, are the conceptual offspring of the big iron mainframes that many of us cut our teeth on back in the day (I still recall the ‘tutorials’ we had to endure in the computer lab… Read more »


Lack of Intel x86 inside Macs is a deal breaker for our University. Because we need true full compatibility with the rest (95%) of the world (Windows). And I do not mean boot camp alone, but also VMware Fusion, for instance. And last but not least, being critically essential in our workflow, true full compatibility with Microsoft Office applications (Word, PowerPoint and Excel) to share documents and scientific meetings with colleagues, track changes while co-editing manuscripts for scientific publications, etc. If Apple does not release Intel x86 Macs, we will be forced to switch to Windows for sure at our… Read more »