7 Apple Rumors: Will 2017 MacBook Pros Be More Affordable?

An exciting assortment of Apple rumors surfaces each week and offers a glimpse into the current state of speculation about upcoming iPhones, new iPads, and the next updates for Apple’s operating systems. Though you might think that the Apple rumor mill would have slowed down after the launch of this year’s iPhone 7, that hasn’t been the case so far. So this week, plenty of exciting rumors about next year’iPhone 8, future iPhone components, and other future Apple products made their rounds online. Read on to catch up on the week’s most exciting Apple rumors.

1. The iPhone 8 may get wireless charging

Apple manager looking over the Apple Store team

The iPhone 8 may be equipped with wireless charging capabilities | iStock.com/AdrianHancu

Luke Dormehl reports for Cult of Mac that Apple may equip 2017’s iPhone 8 with wireless charging capabilities. Apple supplier Foxconn has reportedly begun manufacturing wireless charging modules for 2017’s iPhone, according to a report that cites an “industry source familiar with the matter.” Wireless charging has continually been discussed as a feature that Apple may want to add to the iPhone. However, Dormehl notes that Apple has held off on embracing wireless charging technology for the iPhone because of the company’s “desire to move beyond the charging mats used by current smartphones and into true wireless charging.”

Reports have indicated that Apple is working with its manufacturing partners to overcome the technical barriers, and Apple is said to have made a number of hires with expertise in wireless charging and ultrasonic technology. According to the report, whether or not the feature will make it onto next year’s iPhone will depend on whether Foxconn can “boost the yield rate [of the necessary wireless charging modules] to a satisfactory level.”

2. Apple may also equip the iPhone 8 with an OLED screen

Customers shop at the new Apple Store

Apple’s iPhone 8 may get an OLED display | Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Buster Hein reports for Cult of Mac that a Sharp executive has seemingly confirmed the rumor that the iPhone 8 will feature an OLED screen. Sharp President Tai Jeng-wu, who is also an executive at Foxconn, told students at Tatung University that “the iPhone has been evolving and now it is switching from LTPS to OLED panels.” He added, “We don’t know whether Apple’s OLED iPhones will be a hit, but if Apple doesn’t walk down this path and transform itself, there will be no innovation. It is a crisis but it is also an opportunity.”

Switching to OLED panels will give the iPhone brighter colors and sharper contrast. Cult of Mac notes that another benefit of OLED screens is their ability to flex. Early rumors about the 2017 iPhone indicate that it may also sport a curved display. Another note of interest from Tai’s speech was his assertion that Sharp would be willing to move manufacturing operations for iPhone displays to the United States.

3. Apple’s augmented reality tech may debut in one to two years

Apple employees greet customers as they arrive to buy the new Apple iPhone 7

Augmented reality won’t be released by Apple for another few years | Kazuhiro Nogi/AFP/Getty Images

According to AppleInsider, well-regarded KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo says that consumers waiting for an Apple-branded augmented reality product will need to keep waiting for at least one or two more years. In a note obtained by AppleInsider, Kuo wrote that AR would fit in well with what AppleInsider’s Mikey Campbell characterizes as “Apple’s aptitude for delivering innovative user experiences through unique human-machine interfaces.”

Android smartphones are already being used to power virtual reality headsets, but Apple may begin testing the waters with an AR system like Pokémon Go. But as the technology matures, Kuo thinks that Apple will integrate augmented reality to redefine its key product lines and perhaps to leapfrog its competitors by three to five years. AR interfaces could change the way that users interact with the Apple Watch or Apple TV, or Apple could use augmented reality to break into new fields like autonomous driving systems. A recent report indicated that Apple is testing an AR heads-up display with Siri integration as part of a pivot of Project Titan to self-driving software and supporting hardware.

4. Apple may be considering a price drop for Apple Music

An Apple display at a conference.

Apple Music might just get a little cheaper | Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

According to Digital Music News, Apple is considering a significant price cut for Apple Music subscriptions. Paul Resnikoff cites a pair of sources working closely with the Apple Music team, and he reports that the potential price drop could be as much as 20%. That would put the final monthly price for an Apple Music subscription below $8, which Resnikoff notes would enable Apple to minimize any damage “from a seriously undercutting Amazon Music.”

The cited sources aren’t inside Apple but have reportedly been working closely with Apple Music since the launch of the service. The sources emphasized that the changes are still under discussion, though those discussions are “serious.” They do note that the price drop may not actually be implemented. But if it is, the regular Apple Music rate could drop from $9.99 to $7.99 per month. The family plan could drop from $14.99 to $12.99 per month. But the student rate, which is $4.99 per month, would reportedly stay the same. If implemented, the price drop could happen as soon as Christmas and may start with a holiday promotion.

5. Siri is getting smarter at a secret U.K. office

Phil Schiller discusses Siri, the new personal assistant for the iPhone 4s

Siri, Apple’s personal assistant, is seeing some new advancements as well | Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Sam Shead reports for Business Insider that Apple has a “secret Siri lab” in Cambridge. Employees at Apple’s Cambridge office are reportedly “aiming to make Siri talk more naturally, according to a source that knows a number of Apple’s Cambridge employees.” The Cambridge office is home to fewer than 30 people, including many of the employees from VocalIQ, a voice recognition startup that was spun out from Cambridge University and acquired by Apple in 2015.

The source notes that Apple has room to hire more people at its Cambridge office. Apple is competing with companies including Amazon, Microsoft, and Google in the effort to create artificial intelligence-powered personal assistants. By many accounts, Apple has been falling behind in the global AI race despite a number of recent, impressive hires. VocalIQ’s software, which is designed to help computers and people talk to one another in a more natural dialogue, reportedly hasn’t found its way into Apple’s current implementation of Siri — or at least not at a level that would result in a significant shift in the assistant’s style of dialogue or capability.

6. Next year’s MacBook Pro may get an OLED screen

MacBook Pro with Touch Bar from above

The 2017 Macbook Pro is going to get a few significant upgrades | Apple

Buster Hein reports for Cult of Mac that the iPhone 8 may not be the only product that gets an OLED upgrade in 2017. Apple is reportedly testing new displays for 2017’s MacBook Pro and is exploring the use of OLED panels because of their lower battery consumption, brighter colors, and sharper contrast. Apple’s latest MacBook uses an OLED screen for its Touch Bar, which demonstrates OLEDs’ ability to produce darker blacks.

If Apple switches to OLED screens for next year’s MacBook Pro, the company will be able to make the display even thinner, while also improving its performance. There’s no definite news on when Apple will make a MacBook Pro with an OLED display, despite the rumor that such a device could appear next year. Hein notes that the current report makes it sound like the switch “is still in the consideration phase,” so it’s possible that the technology might not be ready for a year or two.

7. The MacBook Pro may get more affordable in 2017

MacBook Pro with Touch Bar from the side

Next year’s Macbook Pro is going to be cheaper than this year’s model | Apple

Cult of Mac reports that according to KGI’s Ming-Chi Kuo, 2017’s MacBook Pro will get a much lower price tag than this year’s models. The analyst told investors in a note that he expects Apple to bring major price cuts to next year’s MacBook Pro lineup, along with internal upgrades. Kuo posits that the 2017 update will finally give the MacBook Pro up to 32GB of RAM.

Cult of Mac’s Buster Hein notes that Apple usually drops the price on computers a year after major upgrades. The MacBook Air, which Hein notes “was viewed as an over-designed laptop for the rich,” got subsequent price drops on internal upgrades that turned the device “into one of Apple’s most popular portables ever, so it’s reasonable to expect the same thing to happen with the MacBook Pro.”