A forum poster with a reputable history on [Google translate] (via MacRumors) claims to have information about an upcoming MacBook/Air refresh. According to this source, the new model will sport a 12-inch design close to the current 11.6-inch model, but will feature significant internal differences.

The updated MacBook will reportedly not have a fan, will feature a Retina display, and redesigned trackpad. This new trackpad will ditch the mechanical button that has been in the multi-touch trackpads since they first debuted. Instead, the new Air will use only tap gestures for clicking but may feature some tactile feedback to simulate a click.

9to5Mac previously covered a KGI report stating that a 12-inch Retina MacBook Air was in the works. According to that report, the computer will launch in Q2 or Q3 of this year, and could potentially cost less than current models.

12-inch MacBook with new design + Retina Display:

Smaller MacBook with entirely new design
Launching in either Q2 or Q3 of 2014
12-inch screen, but as portable as current 11-inch MacBook Air and productive as 13-inch MacBook Air
Higher-resolution display (Retina)
Will “redefine laptop computing” once again just like the current MacBook Air design
Thinner/lighter than MacBook Air, new clamshell structure
Will run on Intel chip, not Apple-based A8 processor
Potentially lower-cost than current Apple notebooks

Finally, the user also notes that updated 13- and 15-inch MacBook Pros will be available in or around September. These updates will reportedly be mostly spec bumps rather than significant upgrades. The poster also mentioned that the iWatch isn’t imminent but would likely come late in the year.

We consider this report fairly likely. Previously, the same source provided photos of the Retina MacBook Pro prior to its official announcement.

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80 Responses to “Rumor: 12-inch Retina MacBook/Air updates coming soon without fan or mechanical trackpad button”

  1. Diego Monroy says:

    I have been thinking about the 12-inch iPad, and i always believe in a 12-inch retina display macbook air, also i think Apple would release a 14-inch retina display macbook air to complete the macbook lineup

  2. Interesting… without fan? How..?

  3. Not sure how the trackpad would work in reality, but I can imagine a fanless MBA.
    Think about it, the Mac Pro uses one fan, one heatsink, and is more powerful than most PC’s today. It’s Apples way of innovating and standing out. The Macbook Air was a thin, and light laptop, when none others were. Now they want to stand out again with everyone having i7 Versions of Ultrabooks and saying more power is better!

    Again in reality, I don’t know how well it’d work, but I can imagine it happening.

    • Turn on ‘tap to click’ and ‘drag lock’ in the system preferences; it’s already possible to not use the mechanical component of the existing trackpads.

      • I don’t see “drag lock” I see “three finger drag”. I’ve tried it and it’s not very intuitive. Is that what everyone who doesn’t click does when they need to drag something?

      • I know that, but I still find clicking easier; it’s just a habit I have grown on since 2010. Tapping seems like a cheap PC thing to me, since I have a crappy netbook which essentially needs tapping because the buttons are crap.

        I’ve loved Apple for their Trackpads, and to me removing clicking would be a step back.

    • dugbug says:

      Trackpads can be configured for one-finger and two-finger taps / double-taps (left and right mouse button). I exclusively use mac lappys that way.. even the magic trackpad I never actually press it down (mechanical switch) unless Im in the login page where mouse preferences are defaulted. Im sure thats what they are thinking.

      • 311sie says:

        Same here, I never click on the trackpad. Single/multiple finger taps more than make up for clicking. Wish there was a tap to click option for the magic mouse.

    • rMBP 15 inch has two fans. They rarely run. When they do they’re not that noticeable until they run full force.

      • True, but still – most Photographers/Videographers/Graphic Designers use MB’s for their work, they aren’t quick tasks, and even if the MBA was just a throw around portable go-to quick editor, it’d still need some great way of cooling.

    • I saw a while back Apple was working on tactile feedback for track-pads that instead of using a mechanical click, used little clickers mounted in the corners to provide the “click” sensation. Could be that, just a shot in the dark.

  4. rettun1 says:

    And maybe more of a rounded design like the iPads too? Ultra thin and light, that’d be awesome

  5. You mac phreaks misuse the shit out of the term ‘update’. It’s a new macbook, not an update.

  6. I never actually click my trackpad. I think it does not need to me mechanical.

    • How do you drag things? I’m really not a fan of 3 finger drag. It feels very unnatural.

      Maybe they don’t need a physical click, but I need it to function the same way it has for years where the bottom section of the trackpad lets me use my thumb to “click” so that I can use my index to move things.

      • dugbug says:

        Yes three finger drag. Thats at least the mavericks setting for it currently. It feels unnatural for about a day, then clicking feels weird.

        If I really want precision stuff (i.e. drawing), I use a mouse. For overall OS usage (browsing, etc.) the trackpad sans clicking is my preferred usage. Not that my opinion helps you any, but there you go :)

      • borntofeel says:

        Tap once on the bar then drag. No need for three fingers. I find dragging while pressing the mechanical trackpad almost impossible to do. Maybe they changed it since my 2010 MBP.

    • borntofeel says:

      I find the physical clicking to be very uncomfortable to use on a MacBook Pro. Too much pressure to apply. Never use it.

      • - “Tap once on the bar then drag.”

        I can’t get this to work. Really don’t know what you mean. Do you have a setting enabled other than “tap to click”?

        – “I find dragging while pressing the mechanical trackpad almost impossible to do.”

        Are you clicking with your thumb at the bottom and dragging with your index finger or are you trying to click and drag with your index finger?

        There is this kind of spoken thing Apple is doing with the bottom strip of the trackpad. It’s designed to ignore touches there so users can use there thumb to click like how it was when the click button was separate from the touch surface. While the separate button is gone it still functions the same it has for years.

        I think there is a generation of people who never had an old mac laptop and don’t realize that’s how it work. For anyone that is used to this, forcing them to *only* tap will be super annoying. Using any design software would become a chore. While a mouse or wacom tablet is ideal, there are times when you don’t have that and need to work.

  7. This is something I could get excited about.. if only I hadn’t just purchased a new MacBook Pro. Oh well, still exciting. I rarely use the “click” feature on the trackpad as it is (in fear that I click too hard one day and it will royally screw it up) so I like the addition. The no-fan thing could be problem though, right?

  8. dobqopdobqop says:

    According to the Chinese translation, this 12inch model is going to be a NEW MacBook LINEUP! NOT underneath the air nameplate. And that blog DIDN’T mention it will sport a design similar to the existing 11inch MacBook Air! 9to5mac, please pay attention on details!

  9. I’m not sure I like the idea of getting rid of the mechanical trackpad. I often transition my finger from a scrolling gesture immediately to a pressing action for clicking. I like that, and just as importantly, I like the physical depression feedback which clearly and confidently confirms the action. It’s the same idea as using mouse buttons. My fingers are lightly resting on the buttons as all times while I scroll, when I’m ready to click, I immediately press. I don’t have to lift my finger then press it back down first and I sure as heck wouldn’t buy a mouse that requires me to do that.

    I may be upgrading to a newly refreshed MacBook Pro this year and I’m hoping this new trackpad idea stays on the Air for now so I can try it first at a store and not worry about having to deal with it on my personal machine everyday. Maybe I could get used to it but I really don’t see myself truly PREFERRING it over the solution I have now.

    • more than just lifting and pressing your finger, would you like to place three fingers on the trackpad every time you wanted to drag something? Some people do. You and I don’t sound like one of them and having the click there doesn’t mess things up for those who don’t use it.

  10. Touch screen PLEASE Apple, so I can scroll with my fingers and pinch to zoom direct on photos, mindmaps, drawings etc. Ignore those who talk about finger marks – rubbish! Who complains about finger marks on an iPad, smartphone or Windows 8 PC? No one! Why? Because although they show up when the display is off, when on, the finger marks are obliterated optically by the brightness of the backlight.

    • 311sie says:

      You can already do most of those gestures (pretty effectively) with the trackpad and without having to bring your hands to the screen. Until OS X is touch optimized (if it ever happens), it just doesn’t make sense to slap a touchscreen on a Mac.

    • silas681 says:

      I think you will find that the main exception to touch screens is ergonomics/biomechanics. To put it simply try holding your arms off the surface of your desk out in Front of you for five minutes! Aching much?

    • Tallest Skil says:

      >>Touch screen PLEASE Apple,

      It’s a laptop. No.

    • Jason Piebes says:

      Buy a touch monitor if you need ‘touch’. Have you given it a second’s thought as to how touching a laptop screen would actually be very annoying? Your monitor, if you forget, is on a hinge. When you touch it, it moves. Then there’s waiving your arm around the air to interact with it when a track pad is far more efficient. It doesn’t work. Period. HP tried it. Dell tried it. They don’t work.

  11. What do you call an iPad Air with an attached keyboard and USB ports?

  12. Is this gonna be Broadwell-based?
    ‘Cause if so, I’m in like Flynn, baby!

  13. It can easily happen. Apple’s new mobile processors are now 64bit. I am sure OSX can run easily on these chips, and they dont require a fan to run.

    • godofbiscuits says:

      But they’re not fast enough to run existing x86 binaries, which would be too much of a disruption for existing users.

  14. scumbolt2014 says:

    Is this the display some thought was for the “iPad Pro”. As long as Scamscum ships all their Galaxy Pros they won’t care. Just stick the retailers with them per usual.

    • You know, maybe this is that “iPad Pro” (or whatever you want to call it). It’s going to be a hybrid iPad/Laptop. The iPad is fanless and has a retina screen. All it needs is a keyboard with trackpad…

      A laptop running iOS? Why not?

      • 311sie says:

        A laptop running iOS? Why not?

        Because the software is not designed to run on the hardware and vise versa. They would have to rollout a version of iOS with pointer support just for that product and that does not sound like something Apple would do.

        Is it possible? Yes. Does a prototype exists? More than likely. Is it this product, or anywhere near production? Probably not.

        On the other hand, this is Apple, they do whatever the hell they want. :)

  15. I understand many people prefer the tap to click option but it’s an option. I don’t see what’s to gain from removing a physical click. A couple mm of space maybe? Is the physical click a cause for that many repairs or something?

    I’ve tried to use tap to click and find it very difficult to work with. It’s not like iOS where the only time you touch the screen is to “click” something. Moving the mouse requires you to lift and place your finger multiple times. It’s pretty good about not accidentally clicking but what it can’t do allow you to drag. You have use 3 finger drag. For an OS that was basically built for drag and drop, I don’t see how relegating it to an awkward multi finger combination would be good for usability.

    As long as it’s a trackpad and not multitouch a screens I’d expect the click to stay.

    • Three finger drag seems to be the solution they’re pushing in the trackpad preferences these days, but there is another method called ‘drag lock’, which has recently been relegated to the accessibility options for the trackpad (System Preferences > Accessibility > Mouse & Trackpad > Trackpad Options… > Enable dragging with Drag Lock).
      Using this method, you double tap with one finger at the point which you’d like to start ‘dragging’ from, which initiates the lock. You’re then free to move the cursor wherever you’d like, and you don’t have to keep your finger in contact with the trackpad the whole time, because it’s locked. When you’re ready to release, simply single tap with one finger. I prefer this method and have no issues moving files / highlighting text / anything with it.
      To each their own though :)

      • thanks for the tip, @jakimo also mentioned that to me on twitter.

        The thing is, try using any design software with either method. It’s a real pain. Imagine you’re using a pencil. But instead of just pressing the tip down to make a line you had to tap the pencil on the paper once before each stroke. Now write your name : p

        That is what removing click will do. Now, @jakimo already pointed out that a mouse is much better for design work and I’d add that a wacom is even better for some uses. The thing is these are peripherals and if you had to work and didn’t have these things on hand it would suck.

        So while I get that most people might like using tap to click now for casual use I think it’s still really important. I don’t think this is like apple ditching the disk drive. Most people stopped using disks because digital media replaced it, disk drives are prone to breaking, and they take up a ton of space that could be used for battery. People still use laptops to work, I rarely hear of track pads breaking, and how much space could they possible save?

        But if this is isolated to a single 12″ macbook model I guess how many designers would work on a screen that small anyway? They’d go for something larger. I just wouldn’t want to see this happen to a macbook pro.

    • godofbiscuits says:

      I’m not sure why everyone’s expecting Apple to just leave the current set of non-clicking options in place and offer nothing new if they’re doing away with a mechanical click altogether.

      That’s not how Apple does UX.

  16. jpatel330 says:

    maybe this model will have a removable display which operates as an ipad when removed. I am really hoping Apple makes something like that. iPad (iOS) when detached and a regular macbook when attached. People will gobble them up.

    • Tallest Skil says:

      Why are you hoping Apple makes a crap product?

      • jpatel330 says:

        why would it be crap? you get the best of both worlds… iOS and OSx in one device. if Apple can make it and make it look good, I don’t see how people wouldn’t buy it (even at an extreme price range).

      • Tallest Skil says:

        >>you get the best of both worlds… iOS and OSx in one device.

        The only successful combinatory product in the whole of human history is the clock radio.

        In no way would a touchscreen laptop be better than either a tablet or a laptop. And since neither OS X nor iOS can run on the same hardware…

      • jpatel330 says:

        not sure if you understand what i was trying to get at.. the display screen would be a stand-alone iPad Air type. So when it is detached, you would just have a 12” iPad Air with built-in functionality similar to the current iPad Air. The only functionality they would need to add to the display (12” iPad Air) would be to effectively use it as a display when attached to the MacBook. I am sure Apple can figure that out.

      • Tallest Skil says:

        Right. Why would anyone want that? Ever? They figured out that they never want to make that product, at least.

    • Jason Piebes says:

      If that is what you want and an iPad’s screen size is okay, then why don’t you go get a keyboard and case for an iPad Air? I’m not sure if you know what you are asking for… When you dock your iPad you somehow get a boost in performance and access to OSX? Consider how the hardware would have to interact for a moment and that should tell you enough about why they would never do such a thing. You would still need separate CPUs, boards, essentially a Mac Mini that you are docking your iPad to. So there won’t be any cost savings in combining the 2 devices… Storage is another issue since 64GB is simply not enough when it comes to OSX application sizes. So you have separate storage issues and synching which is again already solved through iCloud.

      What you ask for in terms of productivity already exists. There is nothing to gain in creating the ability to dock an iPad onto a Mac Mini… only compromises.

  17. PMZanetti says:

    That’s interesting. Personally I am all tap-to-click and gestures….I never, ever click the damn button itself and haven’t in years, so I know I could use this happily….but I’m sure there are MANY that would have a hard time getting used to such a thing.

  18. PMZanetti says:

    Out of context, but I have more need of a Mac mini than a MBA right now…and I just can’t pull the trigger on a model so out of date, with Intel 4000 graphics. Please, please can we get a version with Iris Pro graphics, or something even newer?

  19. i’d love the mechanical trckpd to be dropped

  20. You’ll still be able to click-drag. The sensitivity/resolution of the new trackpad has been radically increased, so you simply press down just as you normally would and the trackpad recognizes the increase in surface area of your finger as a press. You won’t need to change your habits.

  21. I’d rather see them put in a power efficient oled before increasing the pixel density. I think a 12 inch 1080p would give a ppi of 183 which would be plenty for this model. I’d also like to see an edge to edge glass screen as well.

    • godofbiscuits says:

      Edge-to-edge wouldn’t leave room for the iSight camera, though it would solve a lot of problems with video chats if they could put the camera behind the screen.

      OLED is too flaky in its color response: Apple will always go with color accuracy before anything else (even the current iPad mini goes for a reduced color range than a wider-but-inaccurate one).

  22. I’ve read more about the patent that explains the buttonless trackpad.

    I’d imagine it wouldn’t be functionally different at all. With the benefit of it being that ever-so-slightly thinner. Yay “thin-ovation.”

    It wouldn’t be dropping “click” functionality just changing the mechanism that triggers it from physical to digital with feedback.

    From the comments I was under the impression “tap” would be replacing “click” but I don’t think well see the click going away. If apple does this most people probably wouldn’t notice a functional difference.

  23. localfoodhero says:

    I can’t tell you how many radio + podcast interviews have been ruined by a fan kicking on – drives me nuts