The rampant speculation about what Apple will debut at next week’s Worldwide Developers’ Conference is at full tilt this week. While we’re pretty sure a Tupac-like hologram of Steve Jobs will not be on hand to deliver the new version of OS X, there are other rumors that have a much better chance of actually coming true. For example, it’s more than likely that a new MacBook will be introduced, and recent leaks suggest the MacBook Air will be getting the love. 9to5Mac is reporting that a refreshed version of the Air will include a faster 802.11ac Wi-Fi card along with chips from Intel’s new Haswell processor line.
Among the evidence that faster Wi-Fi is coming to the MacBook Air and possibly all Mac product lines is the Mountain Lion update we told you about yesterday. Update 10.8.4 includes support for Broadcom chipsets, which makes the Wi-Fi speed upgrade more likely. 9to5Mac also points out that Apple’s wireless router, the Airport Extreme, and the wireless Time Capsule are currently facing “supply channel constraints.” This lends more credence to the idea that a faster wireless protocol is on the way.
Apple has always been ahead of the curve when it comes to updating its machines to the newest Wi-Fi standards, so the move to 802.11ac wouldn’t be very surprising. The 802.11ac protocol is faster than 802.11n, and while routers capable of the 802.11ac communications are widely available, they are still a bit pricey. However, if Apple does make the switch, the faster speed will help justify the cost of the Airport Extreme Base Station, typically priced at $180.
Another rumor floating around in addition to the faster Wi-Fi is the inclusion of a 1080p webcam on the new MacBook Air. Up until now, Apple has included a 720p webcam on its laptops, so this would be a welcome change. Going hand-in-hand with this rumor is the possibility of dual-microphone system to allow for more efficient noise-canceling. The dual-microphone setup is already present on the MacBook Pro Retina, so it’s probably going to happen.
What we’re almost certain about is that Apple will introduce new MacBook of the Air or Pro variety with Intel’s new Haswell line of chips. This fourth generation of Intel’s Core line of processors promises battery life of up to 10 hours, particularly in Ultrabooks. The MacBook Air was really the first Ultrabook, way back before Intel coined the term and the specifications for the category, so it makes sense that Apple will bring out a faster, longer-lasting version of the Air — if for no other reason than to remind other manufacturers of the OG Ultrabook.