Apple event 'Unleashed' summary: MacBook Pro, new Airpods | Dates, prices and specs

David Nelson

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Apple event 'Unleashed' live online today: MacBook Pro, new Airpods | Dates, prices and specs

Apple Event October 2021

Unleashed Live

Delivery

Apple say the new MacBook Pros will be available next week. Let's see if the order dates start slipping as people rush in to buy these. There is expected to be pent-up demand because a lot of people have held off buying a new MacBook Pro, knowing Apple were about to put their own silicon in the next models. If Apple can keep shipping dates tight, even given the worldwide supply chain problems, well kudos to Tim Cook, who is after-all a logistics man. 

16 inch

There's the 16-inch fully specced MacBook Pro, yours for $6,099. One powerful machine.

New 14" and 16" MacBook Pros

Well Apple answered a lot of people's pleas today, with new Apple-silicon powered MacBook Pros, in 14" and 16" flavours, that have a lot of the things people wanted.

More ports (HDMI and SD card reader), Magsafe charging, real function keys and no touchbar, along with what they are promising is blistering speed with extreme energy efficiency, a 1080p camera, studio-quality mics, more powerful sound system, and what look to be big, beautiful Mini-LED displays. These look like more than extremely capable notebooks. 

Starting at $1,999 for the 14-inch and $2,499 for the 16-inch. The basic models come as standard with the M1 Pro, 16GB of Unified Memory and a 512GB SSD.  The 16-inch gets the 10-core CPU instead of the 8-core you get in the 14-inch.

On the 14-inch for the M1 Max with 24-core GPU add $500, for the 32-core GPU add $700. You can jump up to 32GB of Unified memory for $400, and there are a range of SSDs available, 2TB, 4TB, and 8TB for a whopping $2,400 more.

The fully speccd out 16-inch comes in at $6,099. 

macOS Monterey will be available as a free update on Monday October 25, so the new MacBook Pros will, as expected, be shipping with that. 

Tim Cook

And it's goodbye from him...

Tim Cook at the end of the presentation of the new AirPods and the new MacBook Pros.

MacBook Pro Pricing! 

14" starts at $1,999

16" starts at $2,499

"Starts at" is the key here. The M1 Max versions are likely going to be pricey!

You can order today say Apple and they will be available next week. They're now up on the website.

Battery life is, as expected, impressive, thanks to the energy-efficient chips. 

Apple says the 14" version has 17 hours of video playback. The 16" version will go for 21 hours of video playback. 

Fast charge for the first time on a Mac: 50% charge in just 30 minutes.

Superfast SSDs: 7.4GB/s

The new Macs are unsurprisingly blistering:

2x faster than the i9 for CPU and up to 4x faster for graphics with the M1 Max on the MacBook Pro 16".

The 14" miles faster than the previous 13" versions. 

Better mics (studio-quality they say), and even better sounds systems. Apple's audio has been potent since they started doing speakers. 

1080p camera. Apple are boasting about this, but it's been a long time coming.

These displays do look tasty. "Hands down the world's best notebook display", says Apple. 

ProMotion displays, that go to 120hz but adaptively, to save power. And it is indeed a mini-LED display. 

Deep dive into the display. Smaller bezels, but we've got a notch for the camera. Hmm, ok. 

16" has a 16.2" display. 7.7M pixels. 

14" has a 14.2" 5.9M pixels

TouchBar is no more! Because Pro users like the tactile feedback. Ok, that's a good excuse for killing the TouchBar. 

Lots more ports:

HDMI, thunderbolt, SD on one side. 

Headphone jack, two thunderbolt, and magsafe on the other side. And you can charge over thunderbolt too. 

 

New thermal design to keep the machine operating quietly for extended periods. 

16.8 mm thick or thin, as Apple like to say; 4.7 pounds on the 16" model.

Near edge-to-edge screen. Two models, 16" and 14", with the two based on the same design.

MagSafe is go!

The new MacBook Pros. "Truly special". 

Nice Star Trek reference there, with a 100 gb Enterprise that can be held in a notebook's memory "for the first time". The Enterprise warps off. 

App developers talking up the new M1 Pro and M1 Max chips. Unsurprisingly, they love them!!

10,000 Universal Apps says Apple, that run natively on either Intel chips or Apple Silicon. 

All the Apple apps run natively on Apple Silicon and for 3rd party apps that don't natively run, Rosetta 2 translates and runs them on the fly (and it's impressive, even running on the lowest specc'd MacBook Air)

3x Faster Machine Learning than in the Intel i9 MacBook Pros.

macOS Monterey time. Talking about how macOS works directly with the silicon for the best experience. 

Comparison with leading PC chips, with Apple bigging up just how powerful the M1 chip family is particularly when taking into account the power efficiency. "The most powerful chip for a notebook".

gpu

But wait, there's another chip... the M1 Max! Even more powerful basically. Up to 64 GB of RAM. 

57 billion transistors. That's a lot. 

32 GPU cores. 

Multiple displays! (Cheers around the room). And more thunderbolt ports. Apple not saying yet how many of each. 

M1 has taken the PC world by storm, but Pro users "need more". We're doing a dive into how the CPU and GPU interact. 

Basically the M1 Pro sees the M1 System on a Chip scaled up. 32 GB of unified memory. 5 nanometer manufacture process.

33.7 billion transistors. Twice that of M1.

10 cores in total: 8 high performance, 2 efficiency cores.

16 GPU cores. 2x faster graphics. 

M1 Pro is a "game changer" says Apple. As you might expect. 

Completely reimagining the MacBook Pro... based on the M1 Pro chip!

Mac time!

Mac having best year ever says Tim Cook, with the success of the M1. And today, we're getting more Apple Silicon models. New MacBook Pros! 

New contoured design that delivers "sound directly to your ears", they tell us. And adaptive EQ, which adjusts the sound to what you're meant to hear. 

And a newly designed case, which also looks like the Pro case. 

Six hours of listening time in the headphones, and 5-minutes of charge for an hour of use. Case holds four full charges. 

$179. You can order today, shipping next week. 

New design for the AirPods, they look like the Pros, but without the rubber tip. Sweat and water resistant. 

Full spatial audio experience is... coming to the standard AirPods. Which do indeed have a shorter stem, just like the Pro versions. 

Discussing spatial audio, which "brings music to life", with sounds that "truly surround you". If you haven't tried it yet, give it a go. It's truly immersive. 

AirPods update time! 

siri

Voice Plan

New colourful HomePod minis. They look cute. 

New Voice Plan on Siri which gives you Siri-driven access to Apple music. So that seems you won't have access through the Music App, only through Siri. $4.99 a month. So cheaper than the standard Music packages. 

Zane is here to tell us about how Siri can be used to explore your music. And now Apple have curated playlists for "hundreds" of different situations. So you can just ask Siri and he/she'll come up with the perfect playlist, well that's the idea. 

Here's Tim Cook, standing outside Apple Park. Today: Music, and the Mac. Two product areas. 

Music first. Cook saying Apple have forever changed how people listen to music. Of course it was the iPod that really turned things around for the Mac maker. 

AirPods, Music (90 million songs)...

And we've landed in a garage with the original, iconic, coloured iMac. And the Apple start-up chimes being used to create music. Neat. Wait, not just the chimes, all the Apple product noises, including the click of the AirPod cases... 

Micro-LED: 5,4,3,2,1...

This is a very long trip through hyperspace... several minutes now. Cupertino should be just around the next wormhole.

Here we go! Flying through the space... Apple's October event is underway! Thumping music to take us on this trip.

Gruber's guesses

The Touch Bar 2 comment is very interesting. Most commentators appear to be assuming we're just going back to dumb F-keys. Would be easier. But maybe Apple can take the leap of imagination to make the Touch Bar everything it once promised to be...
 

John Gruber writes over at Daring Fireball, if you don't already read him, you should.

macOS Monterey

Apple's latest operating system for the Mac, macOS Monterey, is still in Beta, despite being announced at WWDC three months ago. Expect it to be shipping with these new MacBook Pros. 

M1 limitations

While lots of people are delighted with the performance and energy-efficiency of Apple's M1 chip, it does come with certain limitations, some of which are deal-breakers for certain classes of users. 

They can't be configured with more than 16GB of RAM or have more than 2TB of storage. They also can't run more than two displays (although people have managed to make that happen with some inventive use of third-party drivers and adapters), and the ones released so far are limited to two thunderbolt ports, although the Mac Mini M1 does manage to rock USB-A, HDMI, the two thunderbolt ports as well as an optional 10-gigabit ethernet.  

Hopefully the new class of Apple silicon will do away with all of these limitations. A 'Pro' machine that's unable to run more than two displays is rather unpro, it has to be said.  

Apple

Apple launches MacBook Air, MacBook Pro and Mac Mini with new M1 chip

The M1, the future of Mac

Here's how we covered the launch last November of the first Apple silicon machines, the MacBook Air, the 13" MacBook Pro and the Mac Mini. 

New AirPods?

Also expected this morning from CEO Tim Cook and his minions are some redesigned AirPods. The first generation of the original wireless earbuds were announced on September 7, 2016, with the second generation announced and released in March 2019, by which point they were already Apple's most popular accessory, and endlessly imitated across the marketplace. 

This third gen of Apple's entry-level bluetooth headphones are expected to get a shorter stem a la their bigger brother, the AirPods Pro, as well as a redesigned charging case. Battery life will likely improve as will the bluetooth connection, but don't expect noise cancelling which will be reserved for the Pro model. 

Unleashed!

That dotted font is thought by a fair few to be hinting at mini-LED displays...

What’s Mini-LED? Basically a screen with thousands of tiny LED backlights, each less than 0.2mm across, to allow for precision local dimming. The benefits: Higher contrast, higher brightness, deeper blacks, great power efficiency, less prone to burn-in than OLED.

Hello and welcome to our live coverage of Apple’s latest product announcement event, going under the moniker ‘Unleashed’ with a graphic of the Apple logo as if it were stars seen from a spaceship going into hyperdrive.

What we’re expecting today? New MacBook Pros, with a whole amount of newness going on, not least that they will be powered by Apple’s own chips, following on from the launch of the Apple silicon-powered Mac Mini, MacBook Air and 13” MacBook Pro last November.

The new MacBook Pros are expected to come in two sizes: 14” and 16”, and be powered by a new more robust processor, an upgraded version of the current M1 chip. Whether it’s called M1X or M2 or something else, remains to be seen.

'Unleashed' gets underway at 10 a.m. PT, so 1 p.m. ET, live from Cupertino, California.

More new stuff in the new MacBook Pros (some of which is old stuff revamped)

Obviously a lot of the excitement swirling around about the new MacBook Pros to be announced today comes from seeing how far Apple are taking their own silicon. The M1 driving the machines last year is a potent workhorse, yet incredibly energy efficient. And even greater things are expected of the new M1X or M2: likely eight high-performance cores rather than four in the M1, and possibly 16 or even 32 graphics cores (compared to the M1’s seven or eight). And all with class-leading efficiency.

But in addition to the new chip the latest MacBook models from Apple are rumoured to have a few other things going on, including the return of the much loved MagSafe charging port (instead of charging over USB-C as the MacBook Pros do now) and the return of hard function keys instead of the not-much-loved Touch Bar at the top of the keyboard.

Also new: a range of ports! Apple went all in on USB-C, as in that’s all you got on your MacBook Pro (either four or two, depending on the variant) much to the chagrin of swathers of users, who would like to use USB-A, an SD Card reader or HDMI without needing to carry heaps of dongles about. Apparently prayers, at least some of them, are about to be answered.

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