It’s back to school season, which means laptop manufacturers around the world are salivating at the prospect of students gobbling up new notebooks.
Let’s deflate that a bit: If there’s any way you can hold off on buying a new laptop, do so. You might have to wait a few extra weeks, but all three of the major operating systems are due for some significant upgrades.
Apple: a major MacBook Pro update is rumoured
For Apple fans, a radically updated MacBook Pro is looming. Reports suggest it will be the most significant overhaul to the series in years, with a slimmer design, USB-C ports, a fingerprint reader, and a secondary OLED display that will replace the usual row of function keys. Though it’s not totally clear when it will arrive, the wave of recent rumours suggest it won’t be long.
Those function keys might be controversial, but if you want Apple’s best, you have no real choice but to wait. The 12-inch MacBook should be good to go for the foreseeable future, but that’s an iffy sell even without a replacement on the way. Meanwhile, the MacBook Air and its non-1080p display are looking more outdated with each passing month.
Windows: faster processors coming
On the Windows side, the newest generation of Intel Core processors, codenamed Kaby Lake, is coming soon. Intel CEO Brian Krzanich said the 7th-generation chips started shipping back in July, and on Tuesday confirmed that they will be available in devices this fall. Earlier in the week, Energy Star inadvertently leaked forthcoming Lenovo laptops with Kaby Lake as well.
Kaby Lake won’t be a massive upgrade over the existing Skylake — it only exists because Intel had to push back its more advanced Cannonlake chips to 2017 — but it’s supposed to allow for smoother graphics and 4K video performance. A demo at this week’s Intel Developers Forum touted as much. Plus, in general, it’s always good to futureproof your laptops as much as you can.
Android apps coming to Chromebooks
Finally, Chrome OS will formally support the Google Play Store starting next month. That means Chromebooks will have Android apps.
We took a peek at how that will work in June — in short, it seems very likely to improve Google’s machines, especially when they’re offline.
There’s a bunch of existing Chromebooks that will support the Play Store when it goes live, but very few of those manage to find a good balance between price, performance, and having a touchscreen, which is important when you’re about to add thousands of touch-enabled apps.
And again, futureproofing. If you don’t want to settle, it might be worth waiting and seeing how OEMs approach Chrome OS’s brave new world.
To be clear: If you just bought a new laptop, don’t feel too bad. Kaby Lake isn’t a game-changer, and you might not have bothered with Android apps anyway. If you’re in need of an upgrade, though, see if you can tough it out for a little bit longer.