Apple finally broke its silence regarding the future of the Mac Pro, the iMac and the MacBook Pro's GPU.

Apple Finally Tackles Pro Lineup: MacBook Pro External GPU Compatibility, iMac Pro, And Revamped Mac Pro

It’s no secret that Apple has been neglecting its Pro lineup for years. From the late, rather underwhelming MacBook Pro update last year to the seeming abandonment of the Mac Pro series, the Cupertino-based tech giant has been accused by critics of being far too invested in its mobile devices such as the iPad and the iPhone. For years, Apple has largely been silent about its stance on its desktop range. That is, of course, until now.

Seemingly breaking from tradition, Apple recently held a closed-room discussion with a handful of tech journalists to discuss the state and the future of its Pro range. According to Matthew Panzarino of TechCrunch, the meeting was held by three of Apple’s top executives, Senior Vice President of Worldwide Marketing Phil Schiller, Senior Vice President of Software Engineering Craig Federighi, and Vice President of Hardware Engineering John Ternus. During the gathering, the executives discussed the elephant in the room that has been noticed by Apple fans for years — the state and future of the Mac and Apple’s Pro lineup.

While the meeting in itself was rather unique, even more remarkable was the fact that the executives admitted that the Mac and the Pro series are currently in challenging straits. Its Mac Pro, for one, had effectively run aground since its release back in 2013, and as a result, Apple is now in the process of completely rethinking the entire machine from the ground up. Over the course of the discussions, here are the most relevant updates that the Apple executives have stated, and they are quite exciting.

First off is the Mac Pro, the Cupertino-based tech giant’s most robust computer. The current iteration of the device itself is a marvel of design. However, Apple had admitted that its own design had become its most notable flaw, as the device left much to be desired when it came to longevity and the device’s flexibility for future upgrades. According to Schiller, the next Mac Pro that Apple would release will be a completely different machine, largely modular in design and complete with a Pro display.

“As part of doing a new Mac Pro — it is, by definition, a modular system — we will be doing a Pro display as well. Now you won’t see any of those products this year; we’re in the process of that. We think it’s really important to create something great for our pro customers who want a Mac Pro modular system, and that’ll take longer than this year to do.”

The Apple executives also touched on the future of the iMac, yet another device that has largely been neglected by Apple. The iMac is one of the tech giant’s best-selling machines, yet it is, just like the Mac Pro, in dire need of an update. During the closed-room discussion, Apple’s executives stated that an upgrade for the iconic all-in-one is on the way. This, of course, could pertain to the release of the long-rumored iMac Pro, which is speculated to be marketed as a direct competitor to the Microsoft Surface Studio.

One thing that the Apple executives were firm about was the premise of a Pro-level device with a touchscreen. According to Schiller, the answer to this question is a simple “No.” In a lot of ways, this is not surprising at all, especially since Apple has made it a point to completely avoid touchscreen desktops and laptops over the years. The 2016 MacBook Pro had a Touch Bar, but it is located above the keyboard of the device, and it plays a completely different function than a traditional, full touchscreen panel.

While news of the Pro line’s impending upgrade has been received warmly by fans of the Cupertino-based tech giant, the firm’s executives did state that the updates to the Mac Pro, as well as the bulk of the upgrades that are set to be rolled out in its professional-grade devices, are scheduled to be rolled out next year at the earliest. Thus, while the future of the Mac and the Pro lineup is inevitable, users of the machines would have to wait a little bit longer to receive the next iterations of the devices.

Perhaps the most interesting tidbit of information from the meeting with Apple executives, however, appears to be a confirmation that the MacBook Pro series would eventually be boosted regarding its graphical capabilities, according to a BGR report. During the closed-room discussion, Federighi was asked about Apple’s stance on external GPUs. The executive’s response was, for lack of a better term, very encouraging.

“I think they have a place,” he said.

The 2016 MacBook Pro was widely criticized for its lack of processing power and the inability for its internals to be upgraded. With the current iteration of Apple’s professional-grade laptop, even basic upgrades such as RAM boosts are next to impossible, and this has not been received very well by users and critics of the device alike. Considering Federighi’s response to Apple’s stance on external GPUs, however, it appears that the Cupertino-based tech giant is, at the very least, willing to explore the idea of docking the MacBook Pro with an external graphical processing unit.

With Apple finally breaking its silence regarding the future of its Pro series devices, the Cupertino-based tech giant has issued a strong statement to those who are in doubt about the firm’s dedication and commitment to the development of professional-grade devices. Though Apple has miscalculated in the past, there must be no uncertainty that the tech company would, in more ways than one, be back in the Pro market as a force to be reckoned with.

[Featured Image by Stephen Lam/Getty Images]