2016 MacBooks: Everything we all know about Apple’s approaching notebook improvements

Following Apple’s iPhone SE and 9.7-inch iPad Pro launch last month, the MacBook lineup is next up for major product updates from Apple. What needs upgrading? All MacBooks are approaching or passing the one year mark since last being updated — MacBook Airs in March of last year, the new 12-inch MacBook in April, and the Retina MacBook Pros in March and May. But where might the new machines leave the rest of the lineup?

Will Apple do some spring cleaning to make room for the new models? Perhaps it will lose the 11-inch option in the process as it pushes the new 12-inch MacBook as its best small-screen laptop? And Apple could potentially do some further reconfiguring if it really launches that rumored ultra-thin 15-inch MacBook model.

With Apple’s usual yearly upgrade cycle, all of the models mentioned above as well as the rumored new configurations are prime candidates for product unveilings at Apple’s upcoming WWDC event held each June. To get a glimpse at what Apple has in store, below we explore what we currently know about the upcoming models based on the latest rumors, reports, and intel, and give you a taste of what to expect at WWDC. 

Hardware | Design |

The usual internal upgrades with Intel processors, new storage and graphics options, etc. is to be expected, but rumor has it Apple is also planning some larger changes for the design and overall MacBook lineup. References to an early 2016 12-inch MacBook were discovered in OS X Server, while reports point to thinner 13- and 15-inch models, new metal-injection molded hinges, and more. There’s also a whole lot of speculation about which models will get the USB-C-only treament like the 12-inch MacBook and whether or not the Air brand is on its last leg.

What we know for sure: Mark reported in March that “both new 12-inch MacBooks and upgraded MacBook Pros are in the pipeline for this year. Faster MacBooks are in store for debut by WWDC, potentially in April or May, and new MacBook Pros coming by the second half of the year.”

  • New ultra-thin MacBooks coming later in 2016, featuring new metal-injection molded hinges
  • References to ‘early 2016 12-inch MacBook’ seen in latest OS X Server version
  • Apple reportedly set to introduce new, thinner, 13 inch and 15 inch MacBooks by July
  • Future MacBook SSDs could get even faster w/ super-fast Optane tech
  • New redesigned thinner MacBook Air rumored for mid-2016, perhaps including a 15 inch
  • Apple may need to find new Wi-Fi chip supplier as Broadcom reportedly scales back


Mac OS X |

In addition to likely getting Siri for Mac this fall alongside the new MacBooks, Mark reported in February that Apple is also planning “minor user-interface tweaks across core system application windows” and “performance-focused engineering efforts emphasized in OS X El Capitan last year.”

  • Apple plans Siri for Mac as tentpole feature for this fall’s OS X 10.12 launch
  • Apple hints at future ‘MacOS’ name change on new environmental webpage
  • OS X 10.11.4 resource found with ‘macOS’ naming, fueling more rebranding speculation


Concept | Patents

We had a couple interesting MacBook concepts recently, including a look at how Apple could scale up the 12-inch model as rumored, and we also saw some neat possibilities in other products and Apple patents.

  • Here’s what the new MacBook Pro could look like if Apple scaled up the 12-inch design
  • Neat plug adapter turns Mac and iPad chargers into slimline units that fit behind your sofa
  • Apple patents fuel cell system that could power a MacBook for days or weeks

Opinion | Feature Request

Need more MacBook talk? Read Ben’s latest piece on how he’d rationalize Apple’s MacBook lineup, and check out our other recent opinion pieces, polls, and feature requests for future MacBooks:

  • Here’s what I’d do to rationalize Apple’s MacBook lineup
  • What can we expect from the 2016 MacBooks, rumored to be launched by June?
  • Everything Apple needs to update, but won’t announce at its event next week
  • The 2015 Apple product that most excites me for the company’s future
  • Get ready to wave goodbye to the MacBook Air…
  • The humble MacBook Air is a secret workhorse
  • Feature Request: Messages for Mac needs quick photo sharing access like iOS

Girl using MacBook Selfie Stick in Times Square

Poll |

  • What rumored 2016 Apple product excites you the most?
  • Will iPad Pro replace your MacBook?

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