2016 Wishlist: The Mac

With 2016 just around the corner, I’m taking some time to think about what Apple could do in the next year that would bring advancements to their products. Today, let’s talk about the Mac.

Desktop Retina

Despite the technical hurdles in driving such a display over a cable, I really hope 2016 is the year that Apple’s lonely Thunderbolt Display is updated with a Retina screen. Such a screen will require the DisplayPort 1.3 specification to be implemented with Thunderbolt 3, so this may still be a little way off, but I hope that by the time I need to replace my Mid 2015 MacBook Pro, I can buy a 5K display to use with it.

A Mac mini that make sense

In late 2014 Apple revved the Mac mini, removing the quad-core SKU and making the RAM soldered to the logic board.

W. T. F.

I’d understand this if the company had changed the machine’s enclosure, but the easy-access door remains in place.

I have a couple of Mac minis running around the clock as servers, and I really do love the little machines, but I wouldn’t buy one for normal use anymore. I understand that this is Apple’s cheap desktop machine, but removing options that people want left me disappointed. I hope that either Apple returns the Mac mini to its former glory in 2016, or makes these tradeoffs worth it.

Thunderbolt 3

The I/O found on Macs has changed a lot over the years. I remember being excited when FireWire showed up, then upset that my PowerBook didn’t have a FireWire 800 port on it when that arrived on the scene.

Thunderbolt has eased that pain a little bit. For most people, the differences between Thunderbolt and Thunderbolt 2 simply don’t matter.

However, Thunderbolt isn’t everywhere. The MacBook is living life with a single USB C port, and while that connector may trickle up to other Macs, I’d like to see it and other machines move to the Thunderbolt 3 interface. The connector used by Thunderbolt 3 is the USB-C connector, just as Thunderbolt used the previously-used Mini DisplayPort connector. While the Thunderbolt 3 chipset may be a problem to squeeze into the MacBook, I think that Thunderbolt 3 is a lot more exciting than USB C for power users.

A Change of Pace for OS X

OS X has been around a long time. Over the course of its life, Apple’s been speeding up its release cycles. Starting several years ago, a new version of the operating system has dropped each fall, alongside iOS.

This, of course, is for obvious reasons. As Apple continues to make the experience of moving from one device to another more seamless, OS X releases often include technology to make the Mac play nicer with iOS.

I’m all for that, but it comes with a cost. Any release cycle comes with a round of potential headaches for consumers, IT professionals and developers. If there was a way to add new features in mid-stream — like the company did with Photos.app in OS X Yosemite 10.10.3 — customers may be more at ease, and more likely to enjoy such improvements, as the barrier to entry would be lower.

Apple could then have a bigger marketing release every 18-24 months, giving everyone a little more breathing room between bigger changes. I’m pretty sure this isn’t going to happen, but hey, it’s the holiday season!

Oh, and it’s probably time for a name change.