Here’s why M4 MacBooks were a no-show — and when they’re coming

A person holds a MacBook Air at Apple's Worldwide Developer's Conference (WWDC) in 2023.

Apple has just released a new iPad Pro with a shocking surprise — it includes the M4 chip rather than making the more standard upgrade to the M3. It’s the first time we’ve seen an iPad debut the latest M-series Apple Silicon rather than a Mac, which may leave us Mac fans wondering what’s going on.

So, what’s the deal? Don’t worry — M4 Macs are surely on the way, but these new iPad Pros have thrown in a wrench into the conventional timeline.

The missing M4 Macs

WWDC 2024 banner.

The most obvious option is that Apple will introduce M4 Macs next up at its Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) on June 10. Apple often reveals new Macs at this event, something perhaps prompted by the fact that WWDC is a developer-focused event whose attendees overwhelmingly use Macs to create their apps and software. That means this summer’s event is a strong candidate for new MacBooks and Apple desktop computers.

That is by no means guaranteed, however. Bloomberg reporter Mark Gurman has previously predicted that we won’t see the first M4 Macs until late 2024, which puts them many months away. That means 2024 could be a very slow year for the Mac.

In April, Gurman predicted the order in which Apple will release its M4 Macs. The process would start with a low-end 14-inch MacBook Pro and a 24-inch iMac around the end of 2024, Gurman argued, followed by high-end 16-inch and 14-inch MacBook Pros with M4 Pro and M4 Max chips, which would arrive some time between late 2024 and early 2025. A Mac mini with M4 and M4 Pro chip options would also launch around this time.

After that, Gurman believes 15-inch and 13-inch MacBook Airs are coming in spring 2025, with the M4-series Mac Studio making its debut in summer 2025. Finally, the Mac Pro will step up to M4-series chips in late 2025. That’s a long wait.

And most importantly, that means the iPad Pro will put certain parts of the Mac lineup in a precarious position, especially since it will have more powerful chip than the similarly priced M3 MacBook Air for an entire year.

A long wait ahead

An iPhone being used as a webcam on a MacBook thanks to Apple's Continuity Camera feature in macOS Ventura.

There’s a good reason why we might not see any Macs this summer. WWDC is one of the most important Apple events of the year, and it seems the 2024 edition is going to be overwhelmingly focused on software. Specifically, Apple intends to spend most of its time discussing its new AI tools and features, which leaves little time for any Mac hardware announcements.

In fact, it’s thought that one reason Apple decided to host the May iPad event was to “lay out its AI chip strategy without distraction,” says Gurman. In other words, it could put an emphasis on chip hardware rather than software. That would allow Apple to “focus on how the M4 chip and new iPad Pros will take advantage of the AI software and services coming as part of iPadOS 18 later this year” at WWDC.

On the face of it, that doesn’t seem to leave much room for Macs. While we could end up being surprised this summer, the safe bet is that we won’t see any new MacBooks or desktop computers until the fall or winter. And that’s probably going to feel like an awfully long wait given what Apple says the M4 chip is capable of.