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Apple’s October “Unleashed” event: what to expect

Apple has announced an event for October 18th, with a video containing the title “Unleashed.” If you’ve been watching the rumor mill, it won’t come as a surprise — the company still has a lot of products that are expected to come out this year but haven’t shown up in an Apple keynote.

Chief among those are new, more powerful MacBook Pros, which will follow the incredible Apple Silicon-powered 13-inch MacBook Pro that launched last November. The company is also expected to release new AirPods, and it’s got an entire OS that was announced but hasn’t shipped. Read on for a deep dive into the rumors surrounding these products and more.

Redesigned MacBook Pros

Most of the rumors about the event concern redesigned MacBook Pros, which are expected to feature 14- and 16-inch screens, along with a new Apple processor. Mark Gurman and Ming-Chi Kuo (who have pretty solid track records when it comes to rumors) have both said that the laptops will feature iPhone 12-esque flat sides with a redesigned MagSafe charging port and that they’ll no longer have the Touch Bar that’s been a staple of many MacBook Pros since 2016.

Apple is also rumored to be bringing ports back to its laptops with the redesign. The new MacBooks Pros may include an SD card reader and HDMI and MagSafe ports, which will be familiar (and possibly beloved) by people who miss the days when MacBooks had more than one type of port.

Mark Gurman reports that the laptops will be powered by new chips, which are expected to be more powerful variants of the M1 processor found in today’s computers. The “M1X” (or M2, or whatever name Apple actually goes with) is expected to have more high-performance cores than its predecessor (eight instead of four) and even offer a choice of 16 or 32 graphics cores (compared to the M1’s seven or eight). What’s still unclear is whether the new processor will do away with any of the seeming limitations of the M1: none of the Apple Silicon Macs are configurable with more than 16GB of RAM or 2TB of storage, they can’t run more than two displays, and none of them have more than two Thunderbolt ports (the iMac has at most two Thunderbolt ports and two USB-C ports). Traditionally, the higher-end MacBook Pros have four Thunderbolt ports, though the inclusion of MagSafe and HDMI may make that less necessary.

The configuration screen for an Intel-based MacBook Pro. Just having options for graphics cores would be much easier to explain to new buyers than Turbo Boosts and base clocks.

If you’re thinking, “Wow, these new computers sound like everything I ever could’ve wanted,” you’re not alone — a lot of people are hyped about the rumors (though it’s worth keeping in mind that those don’t always pan out). If it turns out that Apple has taken all of the community’s feedback to heart, the chip shortage could make these laptops hot-ticket items for quite a while.

A Pro Mac Mini

Gurman also recently reported that a more powerful Mac mini would be coming soon, featuring the same processor found in the updated MacBook Pros and more ports than are currently available on the M1-powered Mini. It’s an interesting rumor because the M1 Mini has one of the widest port selections available on an M1 Mac with USB-A, HDMI, two Thunderbolt ports, and optional 10-gigabit ethernet. But the 2018 Intel-based version, which a lot of people think of as the Mac Mini Pro (in part due to its space grey color), has all of that plus two more Thunderbolt ports. For those looking for a powerful Apple-powered desktop, a replacement for the 2018 Mac Mini could be a great option, given the lack of rumors about a 27-inch iMac.

Apple’s October "Unleashed" event: what to expect

Apple is still selling the Intel-powered 2018 Mac Mini.

New AirPods

Gurman, Kuo, and Nikkei have all reported that Apple is working on a follow-up to its regular, non-Pro AirPods and have said that the headphones will feature the shorter stems found on their more expensive counterparts. It feels like AirPods would’ve fit in better at Apple’s iPhone event, but given that they were absent, we may end up seeing them on the 18th. There is also always the (hilarious) possibility that Apple just announces them via press release like it did the AirPods Pro and Max, but with how popular the original ones were, it feels like their successors should get some event time.

Apple’s October "Unleashed" event: what to expect

Apple announced macOS Monterey in June.
Image: Apple

A macOS Monterey release date

Apple has released iOS and iPadOS 15, but macOS Monterey, which was announced alongside them, is still in beta. It would be a bit strange if Apple released new Macs that were running macOS Big Sur out of the box, especially given that Monterey was announced about three months ago at WWDC. If Apple doesn’t announce that the new version of macOS is shipping with the redesigned MacBook Pros, I’ll be pretty surprised.


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