Despite having a ton of today’s products revealed prematurely, Apple did well at offering some genuinely cool reveals that our tech-obsessed readers will love. As someone who’s entrenched deeply in the Apple ecosystem, I’m happy with what I own currently but today’s new MacBook Pro has me ready to trade up within two years of purchasing my current MacBook Pro.
Thankfully, we’re past the iPhone reveals so today focuses on the other products Apple offers, including the HomePod, AirPods, and the new M1 Pro MacBook Pro to name a few to the products featured today.
Apple Music Playlists and Voice Plan
Apple began the event by introducing Apple Music Voice Plan, a new subscription tier for Apple Music with Siri at the centre. Apple Music Voice Plan offers you access to over 90 million songs, thousands of playlists and works well with the HomePod and HomePod mini.
The new subscription service begins at $4.99 per month and goes up, but you’ll need to have a device with Siri. Apple says the new service will have hundreds of new mood and activity playlists created by an editorial team optimized for voice commands. Subscribers can ask Siri to “Play the dinner party playlist,” “Play something chill,” or even “Play more like this” as examples given by Apple.
New HomePod mini Colour
Apple is moving away from the conservative white and black colours and some vibrancy to the HomePod mini line. Today’s Unleashed event revealed three colours for your home — blue, yellow, and orange. These three colours join the existing white and space grey iterations available. The price of the HomePod mini stays the same at $129 and launched in November.
Oh, and the HomePod mini will work with Apple Music Voice.
The third-generation AirPods are getting a new design and they now look much more in line with the AirPods Pro’s shorter stem and smaller size. Apple’s massively popular wireless earbuds are now both sweat and water-resistant but Apple was coy on the IP rating for them. Furthermore, during today’s Unleashed event, Apple said they’ve improved both the microphone and speakers, including the spatial audio that matches your orientation as you turn your head.
Gone are special touch controls, replaced with the same controls the AirPods Pro. Also, the battery has been given a small bump and can now last six hours of listening, with the case giving you four full charges (30 hours total listening time). Apple mentioned that five minutes of charging give you a full hour of listening.
Finally, Apple has quietly added a new MagSafe compatible charging case and is available to pre-order today, starting at #239 and ship on October 25.
M1 Pro and M1 Mac Chips
With the iPhone getting its moment in the spotlight last month, today’s Unleashed event focused on the MacBook Pro. Apple introduced two new powerful components that power the new MacBook Pro — the M1 Pro.
Last year, Apple revealed the M1 chip, the first in-house chip designed by Apple. Sure, the M1 was a good component and it serve Apple well. Now, one year later the M1 Pro and M1 Max feel like a big leap for the market.
The M1 Pro packs a 10-core CPU and 16-core GPU, something Apple promises is up to two times faster than the M1, offers 200GB/s of memory bandwidth, supports up to 32 GB of unified memory, uses 5 nm technology, and packs 33.7 billion transistors.
The M1 Max packs a 10-core CPU and 32-core GPU, offers 400GB/s of memory bandwidth, supports up to 64 GB of unified memory, uses 5 nm technology, and packs 57 billion transistors.
Apple says both the M1 Pro and M1 Max offer up to 1.7 times better CPU performance per watt when compared to the M1 and “discrete PC laptop graphics,” and uses 70 percent less power.
The first thing that stands out is a new redesign that overhauls the previous design and now features a more square chassis that comes in a new 14-inch and 16-inch model. Both models feature an HDMI port, SD card slot, 3.5mm headphone jack, a surprising return of the MagSafe (but can also be charged with via Thunderbolt port).
The 14.2-inch model comes with a 120Hz ProMotion MiniLED display, slimmer bezels and a notch. I thought we were moving away from the notch but somehow, Apple has added one this year. Apple has added a built-in camera but has foregone FaceID this year. Furthermore, the 14.2-inch version of the MacBook Pro features a 3,024 x 1,964-pixel resolution, while the 16.2-inch iteration features a 3,456 x 2,234-pixel resolution.
Depending on who you ask, the Touch Bar is gone and has been replaced with physical keys again and Apple has kept the scissor-switch keyboard. I liked the Touch Bar but it’s hard to replace physical keys with a touch-sensitive bar that I basically used to control the volume.