When it comes to product releases, Apple may be secretive but it’s also predictable. Software announcements come in autumn during WWDC (as was the case this year) and hardware typically comes in spring.
A new rumour, fuelled by filings made with the Eurasian Economic Commission, has sparked some speculation of a winter release, but don’t hold your breath.
9to5Mac pointed out Thursday that Apple provided the Eurasian Economic Union’s executive body with the paperwork for five new iPad models and five new Mac builds.
Previous filings of unannounced Apple products were revealed to the public about a month after the regulatory hurdle, leading to some suggestion that Apple may be ready to make a splash ahead of its standard schedule.
That sort of reveal would be out of character for Apple, save for smaller updates. It hasn’t held a major event in the middle of winter since it held WWDC in August back in 2006. The company only rarely drops a product refresh in winter; it has put out updates to the Mac Pro, MacBook Air and MacBook Pro during July and August in the past, but it’s been a couple years.
A small refresh would seem more likely given the details of the filings, but there’s still some oddities going on.
The paperwork suggests the iPads run iOS 11 and the Macs are operating on macOS 10.13 — both the most current versions of the respective operating systems. As 9to5Mac noted, Apple would typically ship hardware updates with the newest available software.
With iOS 12 expected to receive a public release this spring and macOS Mojave (version 10.14) supposedly available around the same timeframe, it’d be odd for Apple to jump the gun with hardware refreshes running old software.
But hey, sometimes Apple gets weird. And there is certainly an expectation that both its line of Macs and iPad will get an update before year’s end. Reading into the model numbers — A1931, A1932, A1988, A1989 and A1990 for the Macs; A1876, A2013, A1934, A1979 and A2014 for the iPads — provides a little more of a hint at what might be going on.
9to5Mac reported A1988, A1989 and A1990 would fit as new MacBook Pro SKUs. Some benchmarks from Geekbench spotted earlier this year bolstered the possibility of a new MacBook Pro with some upgraded guts to improve performance, and such a change is due since Apple hasn’t refreshed the line for a year now.
As for the iPads, well, it’s hard to say exactly what the model numbers point to. Apple gave the world its “cheap” iPad earlier this year, complete with a $469 price tag and support for the Apple Pencil. The iPad Pro line hasn’t been refreshed since last autumn, and some (uninspiring) rumours have hinted at the possibility of Apple putting its Face ID technology in the iPad.
Anyway, the timing of the filings — and some of the details — sure seem weird. 9to5Mac noted that Apple has tipped its hand by providing documentation to the Eurasian Economic Commission before, filing trademarks for the iPhone 7, Apple Watch Series 2, Apple Watch Series 1 and AirPods just weeks before revealing them to the public. The company also filed for its updated Magic Keyboard, as well as new MacBooks and iPads before they were announced.
The solid track record came to an end earlier this year, though, when Apple filed 11 new iPhone model numbers in the database and none of them have come to fruition yet.
The most likely explanation seems to be Apple has made some changes to how it files in order to avoid being scooping itself, but you never know. You should definitely keep an eye out for new Apple products, coming… eventually.