What I'd like to see in Apple's next MacBooks

New Mac hardware seems highly likely at Apple's upcoming WWDC keynote...and as an owner of a 2008 MacBook, here's what I'd like to upgrade to.

Apple

The looming presence of a WWDC keynote doesn't usually spark dreams of laptop hardware, but this year's a little different . Apple hasn't released a MacBook in all of 2012. It's already June. And, Intel's latest Ivy Bridge processors have been showing up everywhere, including a bumper crop of new Windows ultrabooks.

Here's what I'd like to see in Apple's next MacBooks, both from software and hardware.

Always-on backups
I love that I can plug my iPad in at night and back it up to my iCloud account. The whole process works surprisingly well: in fact, when I bought a third-gen iPad, I transferred my data and apps completely using iCloud and my home wireless Internet...no PC or Mac needed.

Laptops exist in a state of shutdown when they're not used...effectively offline, disconnected. I've stopped backing up my MacBook routinely because Time Machine, while functional, takes a while to use...and it requires me to be online, with my laptop on. I don't have a desk to leave my laptop on. I'd rather let it back up overnight, automatically, just like my iPad.

Cloud-based apps (for real, this time)
I'm spoiled by Steam, and by the App Store. I like easily recoverable cloud-based apps...I can delete stuff as needed from my iPad, and get it again later. Apple has a Mac App Store, but it doesn't feature all Mac software that's out there. In fact, years later, it's still a pretty small subset. I want to be able to restore a Mac from the cloud, just like I did with my iPad. Is that too much to ask?

Be thinner
Rumors say that the new MacBook Pros will see a slimmed-down design. I hope so. The MacBook Air, of course, already fills my need for a thinner Mac. What's my problem? Well, I want Pro users to share in the spoils. The 13-inch Pro no longer feels portable compared with my iPad. I don't carry it out of the apartment. Or, eliminate the 13-inch Pro and improve the Air to become a thin laptop that anyone would want (i.e., offer larger hard drive storage and maybe better graphics).

Retina display...if it doesn't chew up battery life.
I do think a Retina display would be great for text and photo clarity. However, I wouldn't want one at any cost. The new iPad has an amazing screen, but I still debate whether its clarity is worth the little hit on battery life that I experience every day since moving over from an iPad 2. If new screen technology can achieve magic and a long battery, I'm all for it.

Nvidia graphics on a MacBook Air
Nvidia's latest GPUs run on ultrabooks. If a new MacBook Air is coming, I'd like to see at least one model (high-end, maybe 15-inch) with Nvidia graphics. The existing Air -- I use a 13-inch 2011 model for work -- is excellent, but adding more graphics punch would be better for heavy users, and...well, for games.

More storage space
I'd rather have a large hard drive than a fast one: I live on my 2008 aluminum MacBook at home, and I prefer not to host large photo libraries on my Synology server, because it's messy and slower to access. The problem is, SSDs are expensive and cap at 256GB, generally. I'd like to see hybrid hard drives with small amounts of flash storage. Offer up to a terabyte, and I'll be happy.

Optional 4G LTE
The time has come. Apple hasn't offered built-in mobile broadband on a MacBook. The reason was probably user experience: 3G on any data-hungry device feels lousy. Apple's latest LTE iPads finally achieve Wi-Fi-level performance while still having long battery life, which spells a no-brainer as far as inclusion in new MacBook models...at least, as far as I'm concerned. If MacBook Airs don't get LTE soon, most road warriors will switch to iPads.

A new look
I own a 2008 MacBook at home: unibody, the first one, an aluminum 13-incher back when it wasn't called a "Pro." Place it side-by-side next to one of last year's 13-inch MacBook Pros, and you couldn't tell the difference. Yes, the performance and battery life have improved, but cosmetically, it's time for Apple's laptop hardware to see some design changes.

In short, we're overdue for a significant new Apple laptop. What are you looking for?

Tune in Monday anytime after 8 a.m. PT for our Apple WWDC keynote live blog.
 

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