All the Ways Apple Could Improve Its Monitors With a Few Silicon-Powered Tweaks

AirPlay, FaceID, touchscreens, and more

  • Apple is working on several new standalone displays.
  • It will replace the aging Pro Display XDR. 
  • These screens will incorporate Apple Silicon chips.
Apple Pro Display XDR 32-Inch 6K Monitor

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Apple is preparing "multiple new external monitors" with Apple Silicon inside. Maybe even a new Pro Display XDR.

According to Apple rumormonger Mark Gurman, Apple is working on not one, not two, but several new monitors. After a years-long drought in the Apple displays department, this kind of revelation gets the imagination going. One of these will be an update to the current high-end 32-inch Pro Display XDR, but other than that, we can only speculate. So, speculate we shall!

"It's possible that Apple may incorporate some of the technologies it has developed for its iPhone and other devices into its new external monitors with Apple Silicon. For example, the company could potentially include support for AirPlay, which allows users to wirelessly stream audio and video content from their Apple devices to an AirPlay-compatible display." professional photographer and photography blogger Bikram Pachhai told Lifewire via email.

Apple Silicon

One detail that Gurman has gleaned about these new displays is that they will "include Apple Silicon." The current Apple Studio Display already does this, using the A13 Bionic chip usually found in the iPhone 11 and some 2019-era iPads. In the case of the Studio Display, the chip is used to power the camera, enabling Center Stage (the feature that pans the camera as you move), Spatial Audio, and Hey Siri.

"The A13 is there to support the ancillary items that third-party displays do not offer (Center Stage, Spatial Audio, "Hey Siri"), and I imagine Apple sees all of it as a 'value add,'" said Apple fan and user C Wallace in a MacRumors forum thread. "As such, I am not surprised Apple is said to be doing the same with the next set of displays they are developing," 

Closeup on the back of an Apple Pro Display XDR.

Nana Dua / Unsplash

This all makes perfect sense. After all, why bother designing a custom chip for a monitor when you can grab one of your off-the-shelf general-purpose computers, one that is a few years old and therefore cheaper to manufacture, and use that? You don't even have to write new software for it. Just adapt the existing iPhone and iPad stuff. 

But what else could this enable?

Display Everything

How about building in an Apple TV? That also runs on an old A-series iPhone chip and having a display that can also act as a standalone TV makes total sense.

It would have to have a bit of storage inside and would probably have to run at 5K, not 4K like the current high-end Apple TV (for historical and aesthetic reasons, Apple considers 5K to be the minimum resolution for a Mac running on a 27-inch screen), but otherwise why not? Paired with the Siri Remote or just controlled via your iPhone, it would be great if your Mac monitor could double as a TV.

Speaking of which, how about adding AirPlay? The Studio Display already has six speakers for what Apple calls "cinematic sound," so why not let us stream video from our devices over wi-fi? You can already hook up an iPad to the Studio Display with a USB-C cable, but it would be much easier if it could just show up as an AirPlay destination for video and music streaming. 

Or Face ID? Who wouldn't love to unlock their Mac just by sitting down at their desk?

Closeup on an Apple Display from above showing how thin the monitor is.

Mohamed Kerroudj / Unsplash

Pro Features

Gurman mentioned a sequel to the Pro Display XDR, Apple's $5K display that comes without a stand. It's an amazing 32-inch 6K monitor, but in some ways, it is behind the newer Studio Display. The high-end model doesn't have speakers, a microphone, or a camera, for example, and the newer Studio Display is brighter when not viewing HDR movies and photos. 

A new Pro Display XDR could be improved with mini-LED backlights like in the current 14- and 16-inch MacBook Pros, along with those models' Pro Motion tech, which can vary the screen's refresh rate to save power or run at an ultra-smooth 120Hz. 

Touch Screens

Finally, how about touch screens? Apple makes amazing multitouch displays for the iPhone and iPad. Why not make a touch-sensitive display? And while we’re fantasizing, how about a huge touch-screen display set at a low angle like a drawing desk? The Mac might not be suited to touch input, but hook up an iPad Pro, and you could run a photo-editing app or a drawing and pinging app like Procreate on that vast canvas. Add in Apple Pencil support, and Apple would probably sell a few of them.

This is all speculation, of course, but it is also all technology that Apple currently builds into other devices. Still, if Gurman’s sources are as good as usual, it shouldn’t be too long before we find out what Apple has in store.

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