Why an Apple-Made Display Is So Important

It’s getting embarrassing

Key Takeaways

  • Rumors say Apple will finally launch a new standalone display this year. 
  • Mac users will get the benefits of hardware/software integration. 
  • Apple must hate seeing all those ugly monitors connected to its beautiful laptops.
Apple Pro Display.

Apple

Apple might not want to make affordable, standalone displays for its computers, but it has a responsibility to itself and its users. 

The rumors of new Apple-designed monitors are solidifying, and even Apple rumormonger supreme Mark Gurman says he "strongly believes" Apple will launch one. Currently, the only external display in Apple's lineup is the $5,000 ($6,000 if you want it with a stand) Pro Display XDR. The last affordable monitor for normal people was the Apple Thunderbolt Display, sold from 2011-2016. So, a new monitor in 2022? It's about time. 

"Apple has demonstrated the ability to make gorgeous displays in just about any form factor over the years, and their standalone monitors are no different in that regard. Buyers can expect excellent resolution, frame rate, and depth of color," web designer and Pixoul CEO Devon Fata told Lifewire via email. 

Why We Need It

You can connect a Mac to any display, but very few models provide the level of integration that Mac users are used to. At the very least, an Apple-made monitor would wake instantly, like the displays built into the iMac and MacBooks Pro. And it wouldn't show a disconnection message on the screen for ten seconds before switching off the backlight every time your computer goes to sleep.

But an Apple-made display would come with other advantages. First, making simple guesses based on current and past models, it would have a useful complement of ports on the back or sides. If there's an audio jack, it will be of the same audio quality as those in the MacBook itself. If it has USB-C or Thunderbolt passthrough ports, they'll be grouped in one accessible spot, rather than spread all over the perimeter like my Dell. 

The Apple Thunderbolt Display.

Apple

And an Apple display would run at a resolution that makes sense for its computers. Often, a third-party display will need to be run in the Mac's "scaled" mode, where the entire user interface is expanded to make it more comfortable to view on a display with a non-matching pixel resolution. This puts more load on the Mac's GPU and can lead to a marginal loss in sharpness.

Aside from better build quality and better integration, Apple could add some neat tricks to the monitor. 

For instance, it could integrate AirPlay. This is Apple's name for its audio and video streaming tech. AirPlay can stream audio to speakers, video to Apple TV boxes, and as of this year's iOS and macOS updates, you can even stream video from your iPhone to your Mac. 

Imagine if you could do that, only without the computer? Putting even a basic, old-model A-series chip into the monitor would allow AirPlay, just like it does with the Apple TV box. In fact, the monitor could be an Apple TV box for watching movies and playing games. 

"An A-series desktop chip would enable all sorts of cool features, including some built right into the monitor that sits just next to your keyboard," technology writer Aram Aldarraji told Lifewire via email. 

And what about Face ID? This would be great for laptop users, who are used to just placing a finger on the Touch ID button, and Mac mini users, who have no such biometric tricks unless they buy the expensive Magic Keyboard. 

"Apple has demonstrated the ability to make gorgeous displays in just about any form factor over the years..."

And while we're talking about cameras, make it a nice wide-angle model, like in the latest iPads, so it can do Center Stage, the FaceTime video feature where the camera detects participants and virtually zooms in on them. 

Why Apple Needs It

Apple should sell a monitor because it’s an essential part of a comprehensive lineup. A professional camera maker wouldn’t get very far if it only sold bodies and left the lenses to third parties. 

Monitors might not be a profit center like MacBooks or iPhones, but neither is the Mac Pro. Apple’s high-end desktop machine is redundant in its lineup if you only consider best-sellers. The majority of computers sold are laptops, making desktops a niche market. And the Mac Pro is a niche within a niche, a machine for people who need to expand their computer with extra storage, RAW, GPUs, etc. 

Let’s look at it another way. Say you’re Apple, and you’re doing a feature on what the hot designers, filmmakers, and musicians do with their MacBooks Pro. How do you feel when you see those beautiful computers hooked up to all manner of ugly monitors and displays, with dongles and adapters hanging off their sides?

You feel ashamed, as you should.

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