Although it’s light on new consumer-facing features, the latest release of the OS X El Capitan beta for developers hides references to a pair of future Apple hardware products: a new 4K version of the 21.5-inch iMac and a new Bluetooth Remote control…
iPad Air 2
Likely destined for a refreshed version of the 21.5-inch iMac, which currently does not have a Retina display, the new El Capitan beta references Mac support for a new 4096 x 2304 resolution Apple-made display panel. While the larger, more expensive 27-inch iMac is offered with a 5K display, it could make sense for the smaller screen to be upgraded to a 4K resolution.
In addition to the 4K panel reference, which is not present in any version of Yosemite, the innards of the software upgrade include references to a new Intel graphics chipset known as the Iris Pro 6200. This new, Broadwell-integrated graphics processor launched earlier this month and would be a natural fit for powering a 4K iMac.
References to four new AMD Radeon R9 processors (M380, M390, M395 and M395X) are also found in the beta, which could indicate additional Mac models or 4K iMac upgrade options. Journalist Pierre Dandumont assisted us with locating the 4K iMac and graphics files.
Macs aside, a new file inside of El Capitan seems to confirm that Apple has been working on a new Bluetooth Remote Control. According to our scan of the file’s contents, this new piece of hardware integrates a dedicated Bluetooth wireless chip, can connect with devices via an infrared sensor, and includes a Multi-Touch trackpad with inertial scrolling support. There is also a reference to what could be Force Touch support, but we are less certain about that. The device also appears to support audio, which could indicate either playback or input for Siri. This file does not exist in earlier, public versions of OS X, nor the OS X 10.10.4 Yosemite release that is also in beta.
A Bluetooth Remote control that also supports infrared and Multi-Touch would be a brand new product for Apple, and its appearance inside of this fall’s OS X release leads us to believe that it could be related to the upcoming Apple TV revamp. However, our analysis of the files does not turn up any direct Apple TV references. We first reported earlier this year that a new Apple TV set-top-box would include a redesigned hardware remote with additional functionality and new hardware buttons, and it seems possible that the remote referenced in El Capitan is this controller.