Apple is reportedly working on a 12-inch version of its MacBook Pro laptop to ship later this year. Along with a smaller display, the new model will ditch internal fans as well as the mechanical trackpad button currently used on all Apple laptops.
News of the new model, as well as updated MacBook Air models, comes courtesy of the Chinese site Weiphone.com. Posts on the site have been accurate often enough that it lends some credibility to the rumor.
Assuming Apple does release a 12-inch MacBook Pro, it brings into question the future of the 13-inch model. Apple has been working on keeping its product lines simple, and adding a new model in the laptop range could mean the 13-inch version will be discontinued.
Even if the 12-inch model never makes it to store shelves, this will likely be the year where Apple finally drops built-in optical drives completely. Right now, the 13-inch MacBook Pro is the only Mac model with a built-in optical drive, and removing it would let Apple make the model even thinner. Changing the display size would add another feature to differentiate it from the 13-inch MacBook Air, too.
Weiphone.com said the new MacBook Pro won't ship until September, and the updated MacBook Air is coming soon. That would fit with prior Apple laptop updates where the Air gets refreshed in the spring and the Pro update doesn't come until fall.
As if that isn't enough for one rumor, the post goes on to say that Apple's smartwatch design is still in the prototype stage and won't be ready any time soon. That would suggest a fall release at the earliest, and depending on how far into the prototyping process Apple is, it could mean a launch some time in 2015.
A fall, or later, iWatch launch would put Apple past the point of no return and send the company down the path to irrelevance -- at least according to Global Equities Research analyst Trip Chowdry. He gave Apple 60 days to release a game changing entry into the wearable tech market, "or they will disappear."
Lucky for Apple, Mr. Chowdry is most likely completely off base.
Regardless of what Apple does have planned for the rest of 2014, new MacBook Pro models would be very welcome -- especially if they come with more than just incremental improvements. Dropping the 13-inch MacBook Air in favor of a 12-inch model would also give Apple a wider screen size selection ranging from 11-inches up to 15-inches, and would eliminate the screen size redundancy between the Air and Pro lines.
Apple doesn't talk about unannounced products, so for now we can only speculate as to what may be in store for the company's laptop line this year. It's very likely the smaller size MacBook Pro will drop its built-in optical drive, and may even switch from a traditional hard drive to SSD. If the latest rumor proves right, it'll get a smaller screen and new trackpad technology, too.
[Thanks to Mac Rumors for the heads up]