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Rumor: Next MacBook Air to offer 12-inch screen, fanless design

updated 11:13 pm EDT, Fri March 21, 2014

May also abandon 'clicker' trackpad in favor of gesture-only control

A source described by other sites as "normally reliable" has claimed that Apple is planning to revamp its MacBook Air line, potentially introducing a single 12-inch model that the source claims utilizes a "fanless" design (current MacBook Airs have one, very quiet, fan in them). The revamp also allegedly replaces the mechanical "clicker" in the trackpad with gesture-only and tap control, rather than any physical "clicks." As a result, the rumor says, the new design will be even thinner than it is presently.

The MacBook Air, despite being constantly derided by competitors, in fact changed the entire notebook industry, single-handedly popularizing the invented "ultrabook" category and effectively sounding the death-knell for low-cost, low-functionality "netbooks." The two models are said to be the best-selling "ultrabook" computers from any company by a wide margin, and last summer controlled more than 56 percent of the entire category.

Many Windows- or Android- or Chrome-based "ultrabooks" now bear an uncanny resemblance to the MacBook Air, which was first introduced in 2008 -- right down to the chiclet-style keyboards. The new rumors come from a report posted on the Chinese forum WeiPhone, AppleInsider reports, but agree with predictions made by unusually well-connected analyst Ming-Chi Kuo.

Apple has been granted some patents in the area of replacing the now-standard notebook trackpad (which Apple popularized in the 90s), including a recent patent that would detect force or use optical sensors to indicate intent rather than a click-button assembly. It could also opt to simply make the trackpad tap-dependent instead of click-dependent, as many MacBook users already employ. The 12-inch display, if true, would represent only an incremental upgrade to the existing 11.6-inch MacBook Air, but could be of Retina display quality, which would be a significant step up for both the 11.6- and 13-inch current models.

The rumor indicates that the MacBook Air revamp would ship "soon" without specifying a timeframe. A similar MacBook Pro revamp, which is expected to drop the non-Retina 13-inch model as well as its optical disc drive in favor of a Retina display and thinner chassis, is thought be coming later in the year. The source also claims that Apple is in fact working on an "iWatch" project, but that it is far from ready for public release and is only in the "prototyping" stage.

by MacNN Staff



  1. daqman

    Junior Member

    Joined: 09-15-00

    "The revamp also allegedly replaces the mechanical "clicker" in the trackpad with gesture-only and tap control, rather than any physical "clicks." "

    If this is true then my next laptop won't be a Macbook Air. I've honestly tried to like tap-to-click but have always ended up turning it off. I just get too many false clicks, especially when web browsing. When I put my finger down to move the pointer it gets interpreted as a click and I end up hitting a link that I didn't want to follow. Yes, I've tried to adjust the sensitivity.

  1. Inkling

    Senior User

    Joined: 07-25-06

    Sounds good. I've hesitated to replace my ancient MacBook in part because I've felt 11" was too small and 13" too large. Like in the Three Bears story, 12" should be "just right." The "even thinner" doesn't excite me though. I want a laptop not a bread slicer. I'd be delighted to trade thinness for a longer battery life, perhaps in an EL (for Extended Life) model. And having GPS built-in would be great too.

  1. cashxx

    Junior Member

    Joined: 04-13-09

    Sounds like the 12 inch iPad to me! I hope they stick with intel for the processor, unless this is the pro version of the iPad and iOS or something. Might be where the rumors are all getting messed up, its a laptop but running iOS or something. 12 inch iPad, etc.

  1. And.reg

    Mac Elite

    Joined: 02-22-04

    Uh, the 13" screen is already small enough as it is!
    Why can't Apple make the 13" screen larger by extending the bezel all the way to the edge? Then you could have a 14" screen and not make the computer larger.
    Why all the wasted space around my screen?

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