5 things Apple unleashed at its latest event

19 Oct 2021

The new MacBook Pro powered by the M1 Pro and M1 Max chips. Image: Apple

Here’s what you need to know about Apple’s latest product reveals, including two new M1 chips and a new MacBook Pro.

It has been a little more than a month since Apple announced the iPhone 13 range among a host of other new and redesigned products. And yesterday (18 October), Apple was back at it – revealing the new M1 chips, MacBook Pro, AirPods and more.

Apple Unleashed was the company’s third major product event of 2021, and here’s everything you need to know about what’s new (and what’s not).

The M1 goes pro

Apple’s new M1 Pro and M1 Max chips are, you guessed it, the fastest the company has ever made. Claiming to deliver up to 70pc faster CPU performance than the M1, which was revealed this time last year, the two new chips will power Apple’s latest MacBook Pro.

Two black squares with Apple logos in them. One reads M1 Pro and the other reads M1 Max.

M1 Pro and M1 Max. Image: Apple

M1 Pro’s GPU is up to two times as fast as the M1, while the M1 Max takes it a couple of notches higher with four times the speed, according to Apple. This will be the first time the system-on-a-chip architecture is used on Pro systems.

Both the chips have a 10-core CPU, but M1 Max’s 32-core GPU beats M1 Pro’s 16-core. With 57bn transistors, M1 Max is also the largest chip Apple has ever built. Both chips come with ProRes, Apple’s media engine that is designed to make video better while using less energy.

The MacBook Pro gets a remote work upgrade

In the last MacBook Pro announcement, some Apple fans were disappointed with the 720p resolution of its camera – not ideal for video-intensive remote working. Apple’s latest MacBook Pro is aiming to right that wrong with a 1080p HD camera and much more.

Two Apple MacBook Pros with lids half-open in a while background.

MacBook Pro. Image: Apple

Revealed in 14-inch and 16-inch models, Apple latest laptop features Liquid Retina XDR display and what it described as “the best audio system in a notebook”. It runs on the latest MacOS Monterey, which Apple said takes “full advantage” of the M1 Pro and M1 Max chips.

Apple also said it made a few connectivity improvements to the new MacBook Pro and battery life has increased considerably. The 14-inch model delivers up to 17 hours of video playback, while the 16-inch model can last 21 hours – the longest ever for a Mac notebook.

And finally, while the MagSafe charging feature is back, the Touch Bar is gone, replaced by physical function keys. The 14-inch model starts at €2,249 while the 16-inch model starts at €2,749.

The AirPods go (almost) pro

The new AirPods, powered by the H1 chip used in previous models, feature Adaptive EQ that Apple said provides “unrivalled sound”. Using spatial audio with dynamic head tracking and the AirPods Pro’s force sensor for controlling music and calls, the new AirPods are inching closer to the Pro line in performance.

Battery life has also seen an upgrade, going from up to five hours of listening time in the previous model to a promised six hours. Also announced was improved sweat and water resistance, a shorter stem, and a more lightweight and “contoured” design.

The third generation of AirPods will set buyers back €199 and will be available for shipping from 25 October.

The bold new HomePod mini

Apple’s 3.3-inch-tall smart home device, the HomePod mini, now comes in three new colours – yellow, orange and blue.

Five HomePod mini devices of different colours placed next to each other in a V-shape. Orange device in centre with blue and yellow on its sides and grey and black at the back. White background.

HomePod mini. Image: Apple

Integrated with Siri and other smart home features, the HomePod mini gives users access to 90m songs in the Apple Music catalogue and runs on the S5 chip that optimises loudness and dynamics.

“With new vibrant colours, HomePod mini fits in even more places and delivers amazing sound, the power of Siri, and simple and secure smart home controls, all while protecting your privacy,” said Bob Borchers, Apple’s VP for worldwide product marketing.

The HomePod mini is priced at €99 per device and will be available in November.

The new Voice Plan and editing software upgrades

Apple announced a new subscription tier for Apple Music called Voice Plan, which integrates with Siri to allow users to access all of Apple Music’s songs on any device.

Subscribers will get a customised in-app experience with suggestions based on the listener’s music preferences and a queue of recently played music through Siri. At $4.99 a month for users in the US, the plan will be available later this autumn in 17 countries, including Ireland.

Apple also updated its video and audio editing software, Final Cut Pro and Logic Pro, with new features and optimisations that make use of the M1 Pro and M1 Max chips.

Final Cut Pro 10.6 comes with the ability to play seven streams of 8K ProRes or HDR video with the new Liquid Retina XDR display, while Logic Pro 10.7 comes armed with a set of tools to tap into spatial audio and work with Dolby Atmos music files.

Both are available as free upgrades for existing users. New users will pay €299.99 for Final Cut Pro 10.6 and €199.99 for Logic Pro 10.7.

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Vish Gain is a journalist with Silicon Republic