Apple is holding what is set to be a “scary” event next week, in which it will introduce mystery products.
The “Scary Fast” event is unusual in a number of ways. It begins very late, at midnight UK time; it is also unusually late in the month, on 30 October and just a day before Hallowe’en; and Apple also announced it late, inviting the world less than a week before it actually started.
But it is also unusual in that it is very hard to predict what might actually be announced. It seems clear that it will involved the Mac in some way – the invitation included strong hints, such as a reference to the logo of the Finder app that is on all of Apple’s computers – but the event remains largely mysterious beyond that.
Here are the best guesses at what might be coming in Apple’s unexpected, potentially spooky launch live stream.
Apple started designing its own Mac processors in 2020, in a programme it called Apple Silicon. Since then, Macs have been updated around their processors, rather than the other way around.
The Apple processors began with the M1, which was put into a host of computers that were released in November of 2020. It then introduced different variations: the M1 Pro, Max and Ultra, which are used in the higher-end computers.
Last June, Apple revealed the M2, which has gradually replaced the M1. And at the beginning of this year it revealed updates to those higher-end versions: an M2 and M2 Max in January, and an Ultra in June.
If Apple is to reveal an M3, and maybe even M3 Pro and Max, then it would be doing so much more quickly than the previous update cycle, and much sooner than most expected. But Apple Silicon is so young that there is no sense of how its cycle goes.
What’s more, it seems unlikely that Apple would hold an event of this kind without a big update to announce – and the obvious big update that’s waiting is the M3.
If it is coming, then expect it to bring speed improvements. The M2 ran a little more hot than the previous version, so Apple might address that too.
The most widely expected new computer is an updated version of the 24-inch iMac. That was first introduced in April 2021, and hasn’t been updated at all since.
The original computer was released to widespread acclaim, though some questions of how many people wanted such a computer today, with the popularity of laptops. Apple may have avoided updating in part for that reason.
But now it looks set to finally get an update, skipping the M2 chip line and going straight onto the M3. It is not clear whether it will get any other upgrades beyond that.
Faster high-end MacBook Pro
Some rumours have suggested that Apple will update its whole chip line-up at once – not releasing the M3 first and then slowly adding the higher-end chips, as it has in the past. If that is the case, then it would be expected to put them into its 14- and 16-inch MacBook Pro.
Those computers were first introduced almost exactly two years ago, when they used the M1 series, but were last updated at the beginning of the year to get the M2 Pro and Max. Apple could switch the chips out to the new family, rumours have suggested.
Beyond that, big updates to the MacBook Pro are unlikely, given how recently it was changed. But there have been some rumours that they could receive small tweaks to their display.
Other Apple computers do also rely on those higher-end chips, with the Mac Studio being most notable among them. That was updated even more recently, however – in June of this year – and so seems even less likely to get yet another refresh.
Refreshed other laptops
If Apple is introducing a new base-level M3 chip, then it could come to all of its computers at once. At the moment, the M2 is found in a host of other Macs – the smaller and larger MacBook Air, the 13-inch MacBook Pro and the Mac mini – and so they could all potentially be updated to the new generation.
Entirely new Macs?
Apple might not only refresh its existing Macs, but could launch entirely new ones, too. Some rumours have suggested that Apple is working on a new version of the iMac that could be bigger (at 30-inch), faster (with a Pro or Max processor), or both in one.
Apple offered this kind of computer for a few years, in the form of the iMac Pro. That was the large model of the iMac but sold in a darker finish, with matching accessories and a range of performance improvements.
It was only sold between 2017 and 2021, a period when Apple’s Mac Pro offering went largely without updates and plenty of criticism. Part of the job of the iMac Pro was to fill that role while Apple worked on other solutions, and the Mac Studio that was first introduced last year now does much the same job
The event does seem to be primarily focused on Macs. And Apple has already released another product – the confusing new Apple Pencil – that might have been expected to be included if it didn’t want to focus only on the computers.
There are other products waiting to be updated: no iPad has seen an update all year, for instance, and the line-up is now a little complicated as well as behind. But this event looks set to focus on computers rather than tablets.
Apple might however choose to give an update on the Vision Pro, the augmented reality headset that it first revealed this June and which it has said is on track to arrive early next year. That headset does rely on a Mac processor – it was announced with the M2, though perhaps that could be updated to an M3 before it actually comes out – and so could potentially be tied into a Mac focused event.