Apple launches new MacBook and AirPod products

Apple unveiled two new MacBook Pros, two new Apple designed chips and the third generation of its AirPods at its second virtual event of the month.

The introduction of the high-powered M1 Pro and M1 Max marks another step away from Intel chips that started in 2020 when Apple began moving the MacBook Air and the Mac mini to its own silicon.

Apple also took a step back from some of the more controversial changes to its notebook line in recent years. The tech giant restored ports to its Mac devices that had been dropped, added a new HDMI port for video, and introduced MagSafe 3 for charging.

The TouchBar that was introduced on the 2016 MacBooks was dropped from the new 14in and 16in MacBook Pros, drawing a line under a feature that had divided users since its introduction. The new MacBook also supports fast charging, charging up to 50 per cent in 30 minutes.

Audio products

Apple announced the new chips and notebooks at its Unleashed virtual event, where its also showed off it latest audio products. The M1 Pro and M1 Max improve on the performance of the original M1 chip, with Apple claiming the CPU performance in the new chips is up to 70 per cent faster than last year’s silicon, and the graphics performance is up four times as fast for the M1 Max.

The high-powered M1 Pro and M1 Max also claim to be significantly more powerful than chips that power PC rivals, while remaining more efficient and delivering better battery life. The 16in MacBook Pro has up to 21 hours of battery life, a seven-hour improvement over the previous model, while the 14in device delivers up to 17 hours of battery life.

“These are the most powerful Mac notebooks we have ever built,” said Apple chief executive Tim Cook.

Although many industry watchers had expected at least one M1 chip, the unveiling of the more powerful M1 Max was a bonus. “It’s the most powerful chip we’ve ever built,” Johny Srouji, Apple’s hardware chief, said.

The new MacBooks are expected to begin shipping next week, Apple said, with prices for Irish users starting from €2,249 for the 14in device and €2,749 for the 16in MacBook Pro.

The event also showcased the third generation of AirPods, which bring features previously seen in the AirPods Pro, such as spatial audio, to the earbuds.

Apple has introduced new colours for its HomePod Mini smart speaker, and unveiled a new voice-only plan for Apple Music, that will give users access to 90 million songs and 30,000 curated playlists in its catalogue through using voice commands on Siri-enabled devices such as the HomePod, Apple Watch, AirPods, iPhone and CarPlay. The new music plan, which costs €5 per month, will be available in Ireland later in the autumn.

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