It was another big week for Apple news this week, with Apple launching its annual Back to School promotion and taking the opportunity to update some of its lower-end Mac notebook lineup. The refresh saw a lower price and a minor update for the MacBook Air, an updated entry-level 13-inch MacBook Pro, and the discontinuation of the 12-inch MacBook. The moves help streamline Apple's notebook lineup while also providing a bit more differentiation for customers.
Other news included rumors about new iPhones, iPads, and AirPods, the release of a new iOS 13 public beta, and a significant issue with the Walkie-Talkie app for Apple Watch. Read on for all of the details on the week's top stories.
Apple Launches 2019 MacBook Air and New Entry-Level 13" MacBook Pro With Touch Bar and Touch ID
Apple this week launched its annual Back to School promotion, offering free Beats headphones with the purchase of select new Mac or iPad models to qualifying students and educators for a limited time.
As part of its back-to-school announcement, Apple also introduced a new MacBook Air with a True Tone display and a lower $1,099 starting price, as well as a new $1,299 entry-level 13-inch MacBook Pro with faster 8th-generation Intel Core processors, a Touch Bar, Touch ID, and more.
Both the new MacBook Air and base 13-inch MacBook Pro have the same butterfly keyboards as higher-end 2019 MacBook Pro models, including an "updated material" for improved reliability. Early benchmarks show some nice speed gains for the new MacBook Pro, while iFixit performed one of its traditional teardowns to see what's inside.
Apple has also dropped the prices of several high-end storage upgrade options across the Mac lineup.
Apple Discontinues 12-Inch MacBook
In addition to refreshing the MacBook Air and lower-end 13-inch MacBook Pro, Apple quietly discontinued its ultra-portable 12-inch MacBook.
Introduced in March 2015, the 12-inch MacBook had not been updated since June 2017. Over time, it became increasingly unclear whether the notebook had a future in Apple's product lineup, especially after the MacBook Air was overhauled last year with a similar design.
Apple also no longer sells a MacBook Pro without a Touch Bar to the disappointment of those who prefer a physical Esc key.
Apple Temporarily Disables Walkie-Talkie App for Apple Watch Due to Eavesdropping Vulnerability
Apple has abruptly disabled the Walkie-Talkie app for Apple Watch due to a bug that could allow users to eavesdrop on others.
Apple said it had just become aware of the vulnerability and immediately disabled the app while it works on a fix as quickly as possible. Apple is not aware of any use of the vulnerability against a customer.
The issue is reminiscent of a serious Group FaceTime bug discovered early this year that could allow callers to hear the recipient's audio without the call being accepted. At least in this case, Apple has taken quicker action.
Four New iPhone Models Expected in 2020, Possibly One With Full-Screen Touch ID and No Notch
We're likely just two months away from a trio of new iPhones for 2019, but rumors are already looking ahead to 2020 and even 2021.
A new JPMorgan report predicts four new iPhones next year, including higher-end 5.4-inch, 6.1-inch, and 6.7-inch models and a new lower-end model without 5G support or an OLED display.
Well-known analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has hinted at 2020 iPhones having slimmer notches as well, while a sketchier rumor out of China suggests that both the notch and Face ID could be completely removed on at least one 2020 iPhone, and on all new iPhones by 2021 -- full-screen Touch ID instead?
Apple Registers Five New iPad Models Running iPadOS in Eurasian Database
New iPads could be on the horizon, based on Apple regulatory filings uncovered in the Eurasian Economic Commission database this week.
A recent rumor suggested that mass production of a new 10.2-inch iPad was set to begin this month, so a launch could be near. The 10.2-inch model is expected to replace the low-cost 9.7-inch iPad.
Looking ahead, there are rumors of two new iPad Pro models entering mass production between late 2019 and early 2020, while a sketchier rumor calls for a foldable iPad with 5G support by as early as next year.
Apple Releases Second Public Betas of iOS 13 and iPadOS
There's also a sixth and hopefully final beta of iOS 12.4. This update is widely expected to include support for the Apple Card, which will likely launch soon. Finally, Apple released new developer betas of macOS 10.14.6 and watchOS 5.3, which should publicly launch alongside iOS 12.4.
AirPods 3 With Water Resistance Expected to Launch Later This Year
Apple will release third-generation AirPods with water resistance and possibly a new design in late 2019, a fresh rumor suggested this week. Other reports say they will also feature noise cancelation.
Earlier this year, reputable analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said two new AirPods models will likely enter mass production between late 2019 and early 2020, with one featuring an "all-new form factor design" — and a higher price.
Each week, we publish an email newsletter like this highlighting the top Apple stories, making it a great way to get a bite-sized recap of the week hitting all of the major topics we've covered and tying together related stories for a big-picture view.