What we expect from Apple’s ‘One More Thing’ Mac event

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Macs.

Okay, great. We’re done here.

Okay, fine. Yes, Apple has all but loudly declared that, five months after making a big silicon Mac reveal back at WWDC, the first models will finally be arriving at this week’s big event. Which models and precisely what kind of upgrades are coming is still up in the air, after months of rumors.

It’s also worth noting here that, in spite of the fact that Apple has had a LOT of smaller events in recent months, this is the company’s last event before the holiday season is in full force — as the name implies. That means we may finally be seeing some long-awaited products arriving in time to make their way into stockings and under trees.

But let’s start with the obvious: new Macs. Apple confirmed back in June that the first models sporting the ARM-based chips would arrive this year, so this event is do or die on that front. There have been a number of a rumors floating around on this front, well ahead of even the official Apple silicon unveiling. While iMacs and other models have been suggested, we seem to be looking specifically at two new 13-inch laptops at this week’s event, namely a new MacBook Pro and MacBook Air.

A report from Bloomberg that appeared last week details a chip based on the same A14 chip found in this year’s iPhone 12 models and the iPad Air. The company touted that the new chips would “deliver industry-leading performance and powerful new technologies.” Among the other stated benefits are increased power efficiency/battery life and other features developed for mobile devices, including security and machine learning.

An upgraded version of the company’s high-end 16-inch MacBook Pro could also be on the slate for the event, but the company appears to be kicking the can down the road on a long-rumored redesign for both this and the iMac. Keep in mind, the company has a stated two-year plan to make the full transition to the first-party silicon. That means we’re not likely to see big updates to the iMac (which received one fairly recently), Mac mini or the Mac Pro.

And, of course, what’s new hardware without the software to match? Apple’s been holding off on announcing the Big Sur release date since its June event. It seems all but a certainty that we’ll be getting a date for macOS 11.0. As one of the biggest updates to the desktop operating system in a number of years, Big Sur brings some key aesthetic redesigns and the new features to the Mac line.

Again, given that this is Apple’s last big event before the holidays, it seems likely we’ll see one or two non-Mac launches. The clearest candidates are the same ones we’ve been discussing in the lead up to every Apple event (and there have been plenty) over the last few months: namely, AirTags and AirPods Studio.

The recent iPhone event seemed like as good a time as any to launch the latter, alongside the arrival of the HomePod mini, but the over-ear headphones have reportedly run into production issues. That’s something of a surprise, given the fact the company owns Beats — the brand behind some of the best-selling over-ear headphones on the market. But better to have them late than early and malfunctioning.

AirTags, meanwhile, are the company’s long-rumored product-tracking Tile competitor. This one has been on top of the rumor list for even longer than AirPods Studio — and now would veritably be a good time to announce the potential stocking stuffer.

That’s pretty much it for the rumor list at this point. These things used to be longer, but Apple’s COVID-19-era schedule of practically monthly press events has largely meant portioning out announcements. The event kicks off tomorrow at 10 a.m. PST, 1 p.m. EST. As usual, we’ll be breaking news live as it happens.