Apple’s 12-inch MacBook Air has been rumored for a while now, but the computer is very real, according to a new report from 9to5Mac’s Mark Gurman. The resourceful and consistently accurate site has revealed specs and renders of a 12-inch MacBook (which is pegged for release anytime between the near future and mid-2015) that pushes the limits in terms of thickness, input and output ports, and overall design.
The 12-inch notebook is almost twice as thin as the existing 11-inch model of the same computer. It has only a very slight taper from its thinnest point to its thickest, unlike the versions shipping now, and it manages to occupy a footprint similar to the current 11-inch Apple notebook, despite the larger display, thanks to the use of a nearly edge-to-edge chiclet-style keyboard, as well as smaller bezels surrounding the 12-inch Air’s screen on all sides.
Apple’s boldest decision with this computer might be that it is apparently dropping almost all physical input and output ports from the computer, save for one 3.5mm audio jack and a single, USB-C connector. The USB-C standard offers a reversible design like the Lightning connector, making it possible to insert compatible cables in any orientation, but more importantly the spec also allows for transfer of power, as well as high-bandwidth video transmission and data up and down. That means that it can act as a single cable solution for docks and hubs that would let MacBook Air owners plug in far more accessories and devices via a single port.
If these reports are accurate (and it’s certain that they are legitimate representations of Apple’s designs at least at this stage of their process, TechCrunch has confirmed), Apple is taking a gamble in that it bets consumers will value extreme portability and minimal design over a bevy of easily accessible ports and I/O. Things are generally handled via wireless in many instances these days, so the minimal port approach doesn’t scare me all that much, especially given what USB-C is capable of, but we’ll have to wait and see if this carries through to an actual shipping computer later this year.