Apple’s first Fall showcase left many an expected Apple-head wanting for details on the next round of MacBooks, the company’s popular line of laptops. So, it came as no surprise that the tech giant would double back with a second showcase and divulge what amounts to some of the most impressive devices to carry the MacBook name.
Apple Unleashed packed a lot of updates that move beyond iteration, including a pair of new, incredibly powerful chips that will make their way into current and future devices, not to mention a new generation of Airpods. With many of these devices making their way into the public, let’s chat about exactly what makes these announcements so intriguing.
Apple’s line of laptops welcomed two new additions this year complete with strategic redesigns meant to maximize the new MacBook Pros performance with the company’s new duo of high-performance chips. According to Apple, the new MacBook Pros feature twice the processing power of previous models when used with the new M1 Pro and M1 Max chips. In fact, everything from the SSD hard drive to GPU performance is faster, boosting the new models’ ability to handle pretty much anything you throw at it.
The notebooks’ externals received some notable additions as well, including a notched 1080p FHD FaceTime camera, the return of HDMI and SD card ports and compatibility with MagSafe charging. Both the 14-inch and 16-inch displays feature Apple’s ProMotion technology, delivering adaptive refresh rates with a 120Hz maximum. The new Liquid XDR display improves the display’s HDR capabilities with crisp, bright colors.
They both also feature the longest battery life of any MacBook Pro, with a single charge lasting nearly a 24-hour period. The entire package makes these new MacBook Pros worthy of the five-year break between updates. Both the 14-inch ($1,999) and 16-inch ($2,499) models are available now.
Much of the heightened performance promised by the new MacBook Pros is due to these new chips, which mark robust improvements over the previous M1 chip and the Intel chips used in previous MacBook Pro models. Both feature 10-core processors that boost overall processing power. The exorbitant amount of transistors included (M1 Pro: 33 billion, M1 Max: >60 billion) greatly increase graphical performance twofold and fourfold respectively as compared to the original M1.
Each chip features impressive unified memory as well, with the M1 Pro touting 32GB and 64GB in the M1 Max.The company outlined that these advancements allow the new M1 chips to outperform top PC processors while consuming 70% less battery power. All of that amounts to a significant step forward in Apple’s young journey into proprietary Arm-based chips. While only available currently in the new MacBook Pros, expect future devices to utilize them going forward. More importantly for Apple, these chips represent a full break from Intel chips being used in its laptops for the time being.
Apple Music is getting a new, low-cost tier in the form of the announced Apple Music Voice Plan. Clocking in at $4.99/month, the new tier gives users access to Apple Music’s collection of songs, playlists and stations with full Siri integration at half the cost of the regular Individual plan ($9.99/month). It does cut access to lyrics, music videos and spatial and lossless audio other plans enjoy, but the low barrier to entry makes up for the smaller amount of features. Just make sure you’re steeped in the Apple ecosystem because, unlike higher tiers, the Voice plan is only usable on Apple devices.
The next generation of Airpods is here with welcome additional features and smart carryovers from previous models. The immediate difference everyone will see is that the Airpods 3 feature significantly shorter stems that feature the same “force sensor” control Airpods Pro have enjoyed. The case is now compatible with MagSafe wireless charging devices and can hold 30 hours of battery life, promising multiple full charges for the headphones beefed up to six hours of continuous listening.
As for the internals, Apple packed in a new driver and adaptive EQ that automatically optimizes audio. Spatial audio has also been added, including the same head tracking introduced in the Airpods Pro. The company also said it has improved microphone performance. The only real drawback is the lack of noise cancellation due to their form factor. The Airpods 3 are available now for $179.
The Apple compact home speaker’s update exists fully on the outside rather than in. The company announced three new colors for the device (blue, orange and yellow) which join the initial white and space gray offerings. The extra pop of color is a nice addition for those that want a finish that goes a bit beyond the basic while maintaining the same sleekness. The new additions will be available in December for $99.
Brian Bell is a queer freelance writer covering tech, pro wrestling, esports, games, comics and TV. Find and follow him on Twitter @WonderboyOTM.