Apple has announced new third-generation AirPods and its much-anticipated new MacBook Pro laptops, with new screens and high-end M1 Pro and M1 Max chips.
During a livestreamed event on Monday, the Apple chief executive, Tim Cook, unveiled the redesigned Bluetooth earbuds and the first of the company’s revamped high-end computers as it continues its switch from Intel to chips of its own design.
The new AirPods mirror the design of the more expensive AirPods Pro, with shorter stalks and squeeze controls, but no silicone earbud tip or active noise cancelling.
They have improved speakers for better quality audio, longer battery life giving up to six hours playback and a redesigned charging case with MagSafe wireless charging.
The earbuds also support head-tracking for Apple’s spatial audio surround-sound feature for movies, TV and music, and have an adaptive equaliser similar to the AirPods Pro.
The third-generation AirPods will cost £169 in the UK and $179 in the US and will ship on 26 October. Apple also introduced a cheaper Apple Music plan costing £4.99 a month that can only be controlled via Siri on Apple devices.
The long-awaited new MacBook Pros mark the biggest change to Apple’s top laptop line since 2012 and ditch the secondary OLED “Touch Bar” screen introduced in 2016, which proved unpopular with many of the company’s high-end users.
The laptops have larger 14.2in or 16.2in screens with significantly smaller bezels and a notch similar to the iPhone for the upgraded 1080p webcam. Both displays have miniLED and 120Hz ProMotion technology as seen in the iPad Pro for increased brightness, HDR (high-dynamic range) support and smoother animations.
The new MacBook Pros also mark the return of a variety of ports to Apple’s laptops, including three Thunderbolt ports, HDMI, SD card slots and the MagSafe 3 magnetic charging system, which was a much-loved mainstay until 2016. The body is made of 100% recycled aluminium too.
Inside the laptops are Apple’s new M1 Pro and Max chips, which build on the success of the M1 processor used in the MacBook Air, low-end MacBook Pro, Mac Mini, iMac and iPad Pro.
The new chips have 10-core processors that are up to 70% faster than the M1 and 16 or 32-core graphics, depending on version, which Apple says are twice or four times more powerful than M1. The chips support up to 64GB memory and have significantly longer battery life of up to 21 hours video playback, with fast charging support too.
The MacBook Pro marks an important test for Apple’s custom silicon as it is one of the main lines used by the company’s large third-party developer community, which create apps and services that make the iPhone, iPad and Mac a success.
Developers are some of the most demanding users of computers, and alongside creative professionals making films and TV, will require great things from the new chips to persuade them to dump their older Intel-powered Macs and PCs.
The 14in and 16in MacBook Pros start at £1,899 or $1,999 and £2,399 or $2,499 respectively and will ship on 26 October.
The next version of Apple’s desktop operating system, macOS Monterey, will be released on 25 October after its announcement at the company’s developer conference in June.