2022 promises to be another big year for the Mac, with the second half of Apple’s silicon transition bringing a new 27-inch iMac, a Mac Pro and a redesigned MacBook Air. But while we’re excited about the performance gains and new designs, concluding the move to its own chips is also an opportunity to create additional feature parity between the Mac and our iOS devices.
As much as we love our Macs, the iPhone has become our primary device throughout the day. So we’ve grown accustomed to the convenience it brings and find ourselves wanting many of its features when we turn to our Macs. Here are the ones we’d like to see come to Mac after the end of the Apple Silicon transition.
5G cellular connectivity
It’s odd that Apple has never offered cellular connectivity with any of its MacBooks. We thought that would change with the 14- and 16-inch MacBook Pros – Apple promotes these laptops as true “pro” machines and we hoped that would finally include 5G. But that didn’t happen. The only wireless connectivity offered in any MacBook is Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, and while it’s relatively easy to find publicly available Wi-Fi or tether our iPhones, it’s generally much slower and not as convenient as the built-in cellular network.
However, if a 5G MacBook is to arrive, 2023 seems more likely. Apple bought Intel’s modem business more than two years ago, and just before the Intel deal, Apple settled a lawsuit with modem maker Qualcomm that involved a six-year licensing deal. Analysts believe an Apple wireless chip could appear in 2023 – details of the licensing agreement are not publicly known, but it’s likely to have nothing to do with the Mac, which would allow Apple to launch its new wireless chips in a MacBook.
The 14- and 16-inch MacBook Pros and the 24-inch iMac featured upgraded 1080p FaceTime cameras. We’ll admit that’s a huge improvement over the 720p FaceTime cameras that Apple has used for far too long, but they’re also a far cry from what the camera should be on the Mac. Apple could do even better by using the iPhone’s TrueDepth camera, which combines a 12 MP, f/2.2, 23mm wide camera with a 3D-structured light/biometrics depth sensor.
Apple doesn’t even have to put it in all of its Macs, just the pro models. As we wrote in our 14-inch MacBook Pro review, “Installing the 12MP FaceTime camera on the MacBook Pro would provide business users with a top-notch video conferencing experience.” Apple is rumored to be gearing up to launch a larger iMac with an M1 Pro to relaunch the iMac Pro this year, and we’re hoping it’s the first Mac to feature the 12MP FaceTime camera. Speaking of…
OK, so it’s not technically an iPhone feature, but it looks like it. One of the best new features in iPadOS 15 is Center Stage, which adjusts the tablet’s front-facing camera to keep you in frame during a video conference. It can zoom in when there is only one person in front of the camera or zoom out when there are several people. If you move, Center Stage adjusts so that you are always in the center of the image.
It’s a fantastic feature and it must be on the Mac, which is frequently used for video conferencing. As Jason Snell pointed out in a recent More Color column for Macworld, Center Stage “is perfect for any device that typically sits still while people position themselves around its front-facing camera.” This is an ideal feature for the iMac, and it would also work great on the MacBook.
Hey look, another feature involving the front camera! With the release of the 24-inch iMac and the Magic Keyboard with Touch ID, fingerprint authentication has become ubiquitous on the Mac. It’s a handy feature – it’s much easier to scan your finger than entering a complicated password – and much more secure, but Face ID takes it a step further.
Imagine that the task you are performing requires authentication and the Mac performs a Face ID verification so quickly that you barely notice it. That would be cool. Apple could even keep Touch ID, so a user could set a preference for one method or the other and have a surefire way to pay for things. Like the TrueDepth camera above, Apple might limit Face ID to pro Macs to help differentiate those models from mainstream Macs.
With an iMac Pro almost certain to be released this year, it’s your chance to surprise the community with the first touchscreen Mac. Since the iMac Pro will have a screen larger than 24 inches, the user interface elements will also be larger and more conducive to the touch. Maybe Apple is introducing it as a way to promote iPhone and iPad apps running on Apple’s silicon Macs. App developers tend to use professional Macs, so the touchscreen user interface could be introduced in the iMac Pro and eventually carried over to the 14- and 16-inch MacBook Pros.
We’ll admit that’s probably not going to happen. We’ve been saying for years that touchscreen Macs are an opportunity for Apple, but the company has been adamant that the technology isn’t in the Mac’s plans. Apple has made similar statements in the past – technology and user demands are constantly changing, and Apple is ready to change too. We haven’t heard of touchscreen development, so if it happens in 2022 (if at all), it could be Apple’s best-kept secret.
Roman has been covering technology since the early 1990s. His career began at MacUser, and he has worked for MacAddict, Mac|Life and TechTV.