Predictions are challenging. The ever-evolving technology industry is especially difficult to forecast. Despite Jedi Master Yoda’s famous “Do or do not, there is no try” admonition, sometimes it’s best, when trying to plan ahead, to at least have an idea what the future might hold. Toward that end, here are three specific developments I expect to impact businesses and business professionals dependent upon Apple technologies in 2022.
SEE: Apple Silicon M1 Mac buying guide: 2021 iMac vs. 2020 MacBook Air vs. MacBook Pro vs. Mac mini (free PDF) (TechRepublic)
1. Apple will introduce even faster, more efficient Mac processors
The transition from Macs using Intel processors to Macs powered by Apple Silicon is proceeding exceedingly well. Corresponding improvements in CPU performance, memory efficiency and battery life are combining to generate winning headlines, rave reviews and satisfied customers. Expect more of the same in 2022, when I predict Apple will introduce even faster processors than the M1 Pro and M1 Max announced in Fall 2021.
The original M1 chip, announced in late November 2020, was the first designed specifically for the Mac. Business users benefit due to the chip’s system-on-a-chip architecture, which collects multiple improvements to deliver faster performance with less energy consumption. The SOC design combines CPU, graphics, input/output and security operations into a single chip in a way that delivers up to three-and-a-half-times faster CPU performance, six-times faster graphics processing and 15-times faster machine learning capacity, all while battery life is extended to twice as long as previous-generation Macs.
The M1 Pro and M1 Max (Figure A) upgrades announced in October 2021 produce even faster performance. The M1 Pro provides a considerable performance boost versus the original M1 chip. Apple said the M1 Pro, with more than twice the number of the original M1’s transistors, is up to 70% faster than the M1’s CPU. The M1 Max, meanwhile, packs three-and-a-half-times the number of transistors as the original M1 chip. Subsequently the M1 Max, billed by Apple as the world’s most powerful chip for a pro notebook, delivers up to four-times faster CPU performance.
Expect new Apple Silicon introduced in 2022 to be even faster. Whether Apple labels the new chips M2, and subsequently the M2 Pro and M2 Max, remains to be seen.
2. iPad and Mac application platforms won’t be merged
Sometimes predictions involve forecasting what won’t happen. This is just such an example.
Despite the fact merging the iPad and Mac application stores could make sense, I don’t foresee Apple combining iPad and Mac software platforms in 2022. Some believed, using reasonable and understandable judgment, that once Apple established Apple Silicon chips on the iPad and Mac lines—a milestone now achieved with multiple models of both platforms powered by Apple M1 chips—the next logical step would be to merge the two app stores.
In other words, you might only have to buy an application once from the App store and find the program can be downloaded and used on both your iPad and Mac. Right now, though, there are two App entities: one for the iPad and another for the Mac.
SEE: Top 5 strategic tech trends for 2022 (TechRepublic)
The hardware remains different, though, especially with the iPad boasting touch screens. Now, I’m no developer, but I appreciate the challenges programming and supporting two different hardware assets poses. Separating application development and distribution, subsequently, makes sense. This is especially true considering growing antitrust and App store commissions sensitivities surrounding Apple and the fact maintaining two separate stores provides developers multiple revenue streams for the same software programs.
Therefore, business users should be prepared to continue paying separately for apps when using programs on the iPad and Mac. While many apps increasingly leverage cloud subscriptions—such as those from Adobe and Microsoft, for example—many developers continue generating revenue from the programs they produce and maintain—for which Serif Labs (maker of the Affinity series of apps), Literature and Latte (Scrivener and Scapple), MacPaw (various utilities) and Time Base Technology Limited (publisher of the GoodNotes 5 app) are examples.
3. A new Mac Pro will win high-end hearts
The buzz has already begun. I first read rumors of an Apple patent for an all-glass Mac Pro in Fall 2021. Regardless whether 2022 sees a new all-glass-encased Mac Pro, the news confirms Apple seeks to continue investing in the high-end client workstation.
So, I think it’s a safe bet Apple will update the aging Mac Pro, shown in Figure B, last refreshed in December 2019. Thanks to Apple’s M1-series SOC improvements, expect remarkably improved performance in the next generation of the high-end Mac. The machines, designed for demanding CPU and video performance as well as intensive data throughput, may feature a minimum of 16 CPU, 28 GPU and 32 neural engine cores. Hopefully the base model price remains unchanged at $5,999. Time will tell.
Will you still need $400 Mac Pro wheels? I’m guessing probably not.
But I wouldn’t be surprised if Apple introduces an updated high-end display to accompany the new Mac Pro. Apple’s Pro Display XDRs are a natural accompaniment for many of the video production tasks often completed using Mac Pros and a refresh may well be in order, too. Just don’t look for these high-quality monitors to drop in price, as Apple appears committed to maintaining premium pricing for its highest-end equipment.