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Apple to refresh MacBook Pro, Air lines in April, report says

Apple is rumored to be upgrading its notebook line in April, what could be a few months before the release of its next OS.

Apple's current MacBook Air model--soon to get an upgrade?
Apple's current MacBook Air model--soon to get an upgrade?

Hot on the heels of Apple actually announcing a real, tangible special event that is expected to bring the next iPad, the company is now rumored to be refreshing its notebooks as soon as April.

Citing supplier sources, Taiwanese component news site DigiTimes--which has a not-so-great track record of Apple murmurings--says updated MacBook Air and MacBook Pro models will hit store shelves in April.

The outlet does not go into specifics about what upgrades are in store, short of pointing to the 13- and 15-inch MacBook Pros receiving upgrades. Curiously, DigiTimes also mentions the units benefiting from Apple's Mountain Lion OS X update, for which a release date has not been set beyond "this summer."

A separate report from the outlet does offer one peculiar tidbit, however. Once again citing supplier sources, DigiTimes says that Apple is "considering" a 14-inch model of the MacBook Air designed specifically for the Asia market, where that screen size is more prevalent among PCs. That would differ from the 13.3-inch model, which is where the line currently tops out.

Apple typically does not offer completely separate versions of its products for particular markets. It changes things like keyboards and packaging, but rarely makes a new device outright. That said, the company has made changes to its devices in the Asian market, including offering a Wi-Fi-free iPhone to comply with local Chinese government standards, and selling a camera-free version of the handset in Singapore.

Neither report makes mention of a separate rumor that Apple is working on a 15-inch model of the MacBook Air. DigiTimes itself claimed such a device was on the way as far back as November, saying Apple would be releasing it in the first quarter of 2012. A report from Apple Insider earlier this month suggested Apple might move its entire Pro line to a similar, if not identical, form factor to the Air, removing things like the hard disk and optical drives in favor of flash memory.

Apple's last refresh of the MacBook Pro was in October, with a speedier processor, more storage, and upgraded graphics capabilities. It's been a bit longer for the MacBook Airs, which were refreshed in late July to coincide with the release of Apple's Lion OS X software update.

While an April release may not jibe with the company's plan to roll out Mountain Lion, which will no doubt be a paid upgrade, it's close to Intel's plans to launch its next generation of processors, dubbed Ivy Bridge. Earlier this month, Intel told CNET that the chips would arrive a "few weeks" after the company's original target of April. Nonetheless, Apple has a history of being the first to get Intel's latest. That includes the MacBook Pro refresh around this time last year, which brought Intel's mobile Sandy Bridge chips to the whole line, as well as Thunderbolt, the speedy I/O that was a collaboration between the two companies.

Apple's MacBook Pro line has not seen a massive external overhaul since the company switched to its unibody design in 2008. A now year-old iLounge rumor suggested that Apple planned to give that line a big face-lift sometime in the beginning of this year.