MacBook Air Upgrade Will Be Conspicuously Absent from Apple WWDC

NEWS ANALYSIS: Normally Apple’s World Wide Developer’s Conference is a software-only event. but Apple has been playing around with the calendar lately, so expect some hardware, too.

MacBook Air WWDC

We already know much about  Worldwide Developers Conference 2017, which starts on Monday June 5 in San Jose. As usual the rumor mill has been active and unlike in some years most of the rumors are in accord. The consensus is that while the World Wide Developer’s Conference is still going to be mostly about software, there will be hardware announcements.

This actually makes sense for a couple of reasons. First, it’s clear that Apple CEO Tim Cook is trying to get away from the rigid annual announcement schedule that Apple used to follow.

This started in March 2016 when Apple announced a new iPhone and a new smaller iPad Pro. Now new products are apparently being announced and shipped when they’re ready, even if that means iPads in the spring or laptops at WWDC.

Although WWDC is aimed primarily at developers, it actually makes sense to announce new hardware products at this show. After all, those developers need to know what hardware products they need to create applications or. So a significant addition to Apple's products lines, such as a new Siri-controlled speaker, is something they need to know about.

WWDC also provides insight about what not to expect from Apple, at least in the near future. For example, while Apple is apparently keeping the MacBook Air in its lineup, it won't announce a upgrade for this notebook and it doesn’t appear to have stellar future.  It looks as if Apple only intends to update the Mac Book Air  with Intel's new Kaby Lake processors, and will provide few other improvements.

For example, there’s no indication that Apple will upgrade the now long-of-tooth MacBook Air with higher-resolution screen. That means this model is stuck with a relatively low resolution 1440 x 900 display, which is far from full HD. And these days, full HD is giving way to the near-4K screens that are beginning to emerge.

Likewise, the MacBook Air can be configured with as much as 512 GB of storage, but that’s far behind the 1 TB or more that other ultrabooks can have. While it’s nice for Apple to signal its devotion to the Macintosh, such limited updates as getting a new processor don’t provide a lot of confidence that this Mac model will be around forever.

Of course, Apple has been known to wait seemingly forever between hardware updates. The iPad Air 2 is a good example. That tablet went for two and a half years between updates and even then that update was fairly modest. You can argue that Apple didn’t want to spend the money to update the iPad Air because sales weren’t particularly high—and they weren’t.

Wayne Rash

Wayne Rash

Wayne Rash is a freelance writer and editor with a 35 year history covering technology. He’s a frequent speaker on business, technology issues and enterprise computing. He covers Washington and...