New Keyboards, Cameras, And Chips Rumoured For Apple Products This Year

Photo: Alex Cranz, Gizmodo

The Apple prophet Ming-Chi Kuo hath spoken, and it would appear that despite some coronavirus concerns, Apple has a few plans in store for its 2020 product lineup.

For starters, Kuo—an analyst who is generally on-the-money when it comes to upcoming Apple trends—noted that Apple has plans to release new MacBook Pro and MacBook Air models in Q2 2020 that feature scissor keyboards. According to MacRumors, it’s likely the MacBook Pro model Kuo is referring to is the 14-inch, and it’s likely that the 13-inch model will be discontinued.

Apple recently switched back to scissor keyboards from its deeply unpopular butterfly keyboards with the 16-inch MacBook Pro. The butterfly keyboards, infamous for sticky and unresponsive keys, are so awful that Apple finally began offering fixes in 2018 for free and refunds for those who shelled out. Even director Taika Waititi went on a rant about the butterfly keyboards at the Oscars earlier this year.

Part of the reason why Apple may be switching back to scissor keyboards is the success of the 16-inch MacBook Pro, according to Kuo. Which, literally anyone who’s had a butterfly keyboard will tell you, duh.

Also on deck is the rumour that we could see ARM-powered Macs as soon as the end of this year, possibly in the form of a MacBook. This rumour also came via Kuo, though details about this were relatively light. Kuo also noted that he expects to see a major redesign in 2021 for MacBooks, though it’s unclear what that might look like. Per 9to5 Mac, the gradual switch from Intel to ARM is likely to start with laptops but it does require giving ample notice to developers long before the hardware drops. WWDC would be the most obvious time, but it’s unclear whether that’s on track for June given the spate of cancelled conferences due to coronavirus fears.

Meanwhile, Fast Company reported that at least one of the iPhones slated to launch this year will have a 3D depth camera. Essentially, the camera will be able to measure the distance between the phone and surrounding objects and surfaces—in other words, hello augmented reality. Supposedly, Apple has recruited Lumentum, a San Jose-based firm to supply the VCSEL lasers that will power the “world-facing” 3D depth sensor needed for this type of camera to work. This isn’t exactly new tech, per se. Apple’s used VCSEL sensors in its TrueDepth camera since 2017 with the iPhone X for features like Face ID, animojis, and Portrait mode selfies. This would just be a beefier version of that. It also tracks with recent reports that Apple is working on a new augmented reality app with the codename “Gobi” in iOS 14.

Of course, while these rumours come from credible sources, they are still just rumours. Apple could very well be working on all these things, but the company also has a history of holding off on announcing rumoured features (see: native sleep tracking on the Apple Watch), or scrapping them entirely if they don’t work to Apple’s satisfaction. We’ll have to wait and see how many of these purported changes actually see the light of day.

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