Mac Pro 2019: Is Apple planning the next transition?

When building a team to develop the Macintosh, Steve Jobs once said, "It's better to be a pirate than join the navy." Is Apple up to something just as profound as it works to develop the Mac Pro?

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Apple broke its silence today in order to reassure the Mac-buying public that it is indeed still working hard on developing the next Mac Pro — but we probably won’t see this unicorn beast reach the Apple Store until 2019.

The delays will continue until waiting is fashionable

Apple seems to be working very hard on the new Mac model. Development of the new Mac is very much centered around the needs of professional users — the company has even recruited some pro users to work with it in developing the new systems.

That makes sense, of course — Apple told us as much this time last year when it said it was going to start over on the development of new pro Macs.

However, for most Mac users, the difference between this year and last is that we now have powerful iMac Pro desktops (with external GPU support) we can use to tide us over while we wait for the return of the Mac king. The Mac Pro will not arrive until 2019, which may make investment in an iMac Pro more attractive to some professional users, Apple said. And it seems probable the system(s) will be modular.

Developing a bigger picture

Mac Pro development is being led by John Ternus, vice president of hardware engineering; Tom Boger, senior director of Mac hardware product marketing; Jud Coplan, director of video apps product marketing; and Xander Soren, director of music apps product marketing, according to TechCrunchwhich met the team to talk about the forthcoming Mac.

Apple has created a Pro Workflow team that includes Mac professionals from across multiple industries to try to figure out what people need from their Macs, and to help the company develop solutions that will be effective across all these different disciplines.

Apple says this is because it wants to create “complete pro solutions,” which I take to mean it seeks to create systems flexible enough to meet the very diverse needs of a very demanding set of users. These people are working on real projects, so I guess we can predict a whole bunch of original Apple content and ads.

Apple wants to innovate your workflow

Apple is trying to learn where it can tweak its systems to better fit the needs of professional workflows using both Apple and non-Apple software, resolving what it calls “pain points” where it can.

The aim?

Not just to engineer the system, but to engineer and develop more efficient workflows in order to optimize both performance and productivity.

The impact of the company’s research isn’t confined to the needs of the Mac Pro development team, the report indicates Apple is applying what it is learning across all its other Mac products, also.

Planning the next transition

Apple has one setup in which an iMac Pro works with two iPad Pros to create a highly effective Logic mix setup.

The TechCrunch report notes that Apple is focused on a pro ecosystem, one in which you might begin a project on a Mac and complete it on an iPad or an iPhone.

I think that’s interesting. You see, one of the hotter rumors this week suggests Apple has a plan to migrate Macs to A-series processors in the relatively near future.

If that is indeed the case, then the company is going to want to spend time figuring out how to get key third-party app developers to migrate at the same time. You don’t have to think back too far to recall what happens when developers are slow in their response to the need to migrate to new platforms.

That’s less of a problem for consumer applications — particularly if Apple makes good the claims that it plans to make it much easier to create apps for both iOS and Macs this year — but for pro apps and for pro users, migrations to different systems can be both hugely expensive and disruptive to existing pro workflows.

I see it this way: Get the consumer apps working across both iOS and macOS, then work with the pro app developers to ensure their software works within any future Mac.

Can you guess how important I think Apple’s new Pro Workflow team will turn out to be to the future of its platforms?

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