It’s official: Apple is working on new Mac Pro and iMacs

Apple hasn’t forgotten about desktop computers, and is working on the next-generation Mac Pro to arrive in 2018, with refreshed iMac all-in-ones also set to pitch up – and those will be on sale this year.

As Mashable reports, all this emerged in a meeting with a trio of Apple’s top executives, including the firm’s marketing guru Phil Schiller who said that the company was working on “completely rethinking the Mac Pro”.

The last incarnation of the Mac Pro was revealed almost four years ago now, and it was dramatic in terms of a major redesign with a bold cylindrical form factor, although some referred to the machine as the ‘trashcan’ Mac.

Craig Federighi, senior VP of software engineering, was also present at the meeting – along with John Ternus, his hardware engineering counterpart – and the former admitted that the Mac Pro “didn't well suit some of the people we wanted to reach”.

The real problem with the powerful desktop PC wasn’t its resemblance to a wastepaper bin – although that probably didn’t help – but Ternus explained that it was trying to be a one-size-fits-all solution for all pro customers, and this didn’t work given the marked diversity of those potential buyers. The system wasn’t configurable enough, put simply.

So what will the new Mac Pro be? You guessed it: more configurable. And Apple says it will speak to a wider and more diverse range of professional users. We can also potentially expect another eye-catching design, Mashable reckons, although perhaps a tad more toned down given some of the aforementioned reaction to the 2013 model.

The not-so-great news, at least if you’re keenly awaiting a Mac Pro refresh, is that Apple made it clear this revamped model won’t be available until 2018 – at the earliest.

iMac info

But on the bright side, as mentioned we will see refreshed iMacs this year, and it was interesting to hear that part of the reason the Mac Pro got put on the backburner, according to the Apple execs, was due to professional types switching to new (more powerful) iMacs in increasing numbers.

Apple’s all-in-one computers will get a ‘significant’ update at some point later in 2017, including some new models which will be aimed specifically at pro users (presumably with even more power under the bonnet). Again, no hard details were made available when talking about the next-gen iMac, just as with the redesigned Mac Pro.

Seemingly, then, this uncharacteristic detailing of future products from Apple is a clear reaction to the growing feeling that the company had abandoned desktop PCs. 

It comes following Tim Cook’s comment last month that Apple will do more in the ‘pro area’, and broad assertion that the firm is still serious about desktop computers.

Indeed, Federighi even admitted that Apple didn’t come to terms with the fact that it needed to do more regarding the Mac Pro, and that the realization that the firm wasn’t fully addressing the professional market came “later than we liked”.

The three executives were also keen to make it clear that Apple has been listening to Mac Pro users, and those who don’t like the current model, in the quest to better shape the next-gen offering.

Just as Microsoft has been since Windows 10 was launched, Apple is clearly keen to appear to be a company that listens to user feedback, and acts upon it.

Pro Plus

It also emerged that the Mac Pro is getting an upgrade, granting the current range boosted specs, while keeping prices the same.

The base Mac Pro will be equipped with a six-core Xeon processor (rather than quad-core), and on the graphics front, it’ll have twin Fire Pro D500 GPUs (as opposed to a single D300). The top-end offering will up the ante to an 8-core processor with dual D700s. Prices will remain static at $2,999 (£2,999 in the UK, AU$4,899) and $3,999 (£3,899, AU$6,499) respectively.

And finally, Apple also revealed that a Pro Display will be coming, too, although there were no specifics revealed on the monitor at all, save for the fact that it will be built by Apple itself, and not LG.

Don’t expect the display, or the new iMac, to have a touchscreen though – Apple has made its feelings perfectly clear on this matter several times before, and Schiller did so once again in this latest meeting. 

It’s just not happening.

Darren is a freelancer writing news and features for TechRadar (and occasionally T3) across a broad range of computing topics including CPUs, GPUs, various other hardware, VPNs, antivirus and more. He has written about tech for the best part of three decades, and writes books in his spare time (his debut novel - 'I Know What You Did Last Supper' - was published by Hachette UK in 2013).