A little less than a month ago, Apple unveiled the new iPhone 13 lineup, including some pretty impressive improvements across all four models. We were also greeted to the Apple Watch Series 7, but that’s not all Apple has in store for us. Earlier today, Apple held its “Unleashed” event, where the company debuted a new subscription service, new AirPods, and new Mac hardware. Here’s everything that Apple announced during today’s Unleashed event.
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Apple Music Voice
Kicking things off, Tim Cook sent it over to Zane Lowe in the Apple Music “labs” to announce Apple Music Voice. This is a new subscription plan “designed around the power of Siri”. With Apple Music Voice, subscribers have the ability to access the music streaming service’s library of more than 90 million songs, just from your voice.
Now, you can just start playing songs and music from any Siri-enabled device with just your voice. Here are the list of compatible devices:
- HomePod mini
- Apple TV
Additionally, Apple is adding “hundreds” of playlists that have been curated by Apple Music “editorial experts”. These have been optimized to be accessed and started just by using Siri, and without needing to sign up for the full Apple Music subscription. You’ll also be able to enjoy full playback controls through Siri, including unlimited song-skipping even if you don’t have the $10 per month Individual Plan.
Apple Music Voice is priced at $4.99 per month, and is included with the Apple Music Individual Plan or Family Plan. It will become available in 17 countries across the globe, “later this fall”. Once available, you can sign up for a 7-day free preview, but it must be requested using Siri.
New HomePod Mini Colors
Next up, the HomePod Mini was shown off, with Apple detailing how useful the smaller HomePod has become. But at launch, the Mini was only available in either Space Gray or White. Starting in November, new color options are arriving, along with compatibility with the new Apple Music Voice subscription model.
In the press release, Apple also detailed some new changes coming to Siri and the HomePod mini later this year. These include the following:
- Expanded multi-user voice recognition: Expanding multi-user voice recognition to all regions where HomePod Mini is available. Tailored responses, access to playlists, Personal Requests, and more.
- Automatic Siri Volume: Siri will automatically adjust the speaking volume based on the ambient sound in the room.
- More diverse voice options for Siri
- Elevate sound on Apple TV 4K: Analyze the media playback using computational audio to “deliver crystal clear dialogue.”
- Apple TV Controls: Use Siri to turn on your Apple TV, start a show, and control playback.
- New ways to control smart home devices: Siri and HomePod mini can now issue commands to smart home accessories at specific times.
- Find My: Use the HomePod mini and Siri to locate a misplaced Find My enabled device.
Available in November, the HomePod mini will now come in yellow, orange, and blue. Pricing remains the same at $99.
After being leaked and rumored for the better part of a year, the AirPods 3 have finally been announced. Simply named “the new AirPods”, we now get features such as Spatial Audio, longer battery life, and a new-yet familiar design.
The AirPods 3 adopt a design similar to that of the AirPods Pro, including the shorter stem with the same controls, and a redesigned charging case. In addition to Spatial Audio, AirPods 3 include Adaptive EQ, using computation audio to deliver the best sound for non-Pro or Max AirPods.
Battery life is expected to be incredible, with six hours of playback time on a single charge. But when paired with the charging case, Apple claims we’ll see up to 30 hours of battery life before you need to charge everything back up. And speaking of charging, the AirPods 3’s charging case is the first of its kind to feature MagSafe compatibility. Now, you don’t need to worry about placing your AirPods incorrectly on a wireless charging pad, or using a cable to juice things back up.
Other features of the AirPods 3 include IPX4 sweat and water resistance, making these perfect for hitting the gym or going out for a run. There’s also a new “skin-detect sensor” to “accurately discern” whether your AirPods are actually in your ear, versus being set down on a table or in a pocket. And while these don’t include Active Noise Cancellation, Apple has integrated a series of beamforming microphones that will “block out ambient noise”. Plus, we’ll still be able to enjoy the Hey, Siri hands-free experience we’ve come to love.
Apple has priced the AirPods 3 at $179, with the included charging case, while dropping the price of the AirPods 2 down to $129. Additionally, the new MagSafe Charging Case is coming to the AirPods Pro, and you won’t have to pay extra for it.
M1 Pro and M1 Max
The Apple M1 chip has been a smash-hit success ever since it was unveiled and released last Fall. Building on that success, we’ve seen the M1 integrated into the iPad Pro series, but Apple is ready to take things up a notch.
The Apple M1 Pro and M1 Max have been announced, providing up to 70% faster CPU performance than the original M1. GPU performance in the M1 Pro is up to 2x faster, and the M1 Max is up to 4x faster compared to last year’s model.
These new Pro and Max chips are designed with professionals in mind, as the M1 Pro now supports up to 32GB of unified memory, while the M1 Max supports up to 64GB. Memory bandwidth has also been vastly improved offering up to 6x faster performance.
Apple’s new chipsets offer up to a 10-core CPU that claims to be 1.7x faster than the “latest 8-core PC laptop chip”. And peak performance is said to consume up to “70% less power”.
As for GPU performance, the M1 Pro can be configured with up to a 16-core GPU, and the M1 Max can use up to a 32-core GPU. Apple claims that the M1 Max is so powerful that it can provide “comparable” performance while using up to 40% less power. And with lower power consumption, this equates to a quieter experience as the fans won’t need to kick on or ramp up nearly as frequently.
With the introduction of the iPhone 13 Pro and Pro Max, we now have the ability to record professional-level movies and videos right from our phones. Thanks to the M1 Pro and M1 Max, Apple states these chipsets include “dedicated acceleration for the ProRes professional video codec”. M1 Max will offer up to 2x faster video encoding than the M1 Pro thanks to dual ProRes accelerators. All-in-all, this will equate to 10x faster transcodes compared to the previous-generation 16-inch MacBook Pro.
I/O support is also improved, as a dedicated display engine means your MacBook Pro can power up to three Pro Display XDR displays AND a 4K TV, along with your MacBook’s display at the same time. Apple also flexed its muscles a bit, as a new 16-core Neural Engine has been integrated to improve on-device machine learning acceleration, and more.
2021 MacBook Pro
So Apple announced a couple of new processors right? This means that we’re just going to keep getting the same recycled MacBook Pro design, right? Wrong.
To go along with the M1 Pro and M1 Max processors, the 2021 MacBook Pro models are finally here. The MacBook Pro is now available with two different display options, coming in at either 14.2-inches or 16.2-inches. All of this while maintaining a similar footprint to the previous 13.3-inch and 16-inch models.
Both the 14-inch and 16-inch models can be configured with either the M1 Pro or M1 Max chipsets, providing you as much (or as little) power as you might want. With the 14-inch model, the base configuration starts with an M1 Pro SoC with an 8-core CPU and 14-core GPU combination, along with 16GB of RAM and 512GB of storage. This can be pushed up to the M1 Max with a 10-core CPU and 32-core GPU, with up to 8TB of storage and 64GB of unified memory.
As for the 16-inch model, there are three different configurations to start from:
- M1 Pro 10-core CPU / 16-core GPU / 16GB RAM / 512GB SSD Storage
- M1 Pro 10-core CPU / 16-core GPU / 16GB RAM / 1TB SSD Storage
- M1 Max 10-core CPU / 32-core GPU / 32GB RAM / 1TB SSD Storage
But what’s even more exciting than the performance is the actual design. The devices remain available in either Space Gray or Silver. However, we have PORTS. That’s right, days of the #DongleLife are behind us as the MacBook Pro now offers three Thunderbolt 4 (USB-C), one HDMI, and one SDXC card slot. Touch ID is still available, but the Touch Bar has finally been ditched in favor of a redesigned keyboard.
Take the keyboard’s that were introduced alongside the M1 iMac lineup, and throw them into the MacBook Pro. That’s essentially what Apple has done, while including backlighting, the aforementioned TouchID, and a row of physical function keys.
Another massive improvement with the 2021 MacBook Pro lineup comes via the display. One of the key features of the iPhone 13 Pro and Pro Max was the introduction of the ProMotion display with its variable refresh rate automatically switching between 10Hz and 120Hz. Apple began down this path back with the iPad Pro a few years ago, but we finally have a ProMotion display on the MacBook Pro. This will make scrolling look smoother than ever, and you might just find yourself not being able to go back to the 60Hz lifestyle.
This was made possible by the new Liquid Retina XDR display integrated into the MacBook Pro. It uses the same mini-LED technology Apple debuted with the iPad Pro, while providing up to 1,000 nits of sustained brightness and 1,600 nits of peak brightness. This display is also capable of offering a 1,000,000:1 contrast ratio, making it arguably the most vibrant and color accurate display we’ve seen on a laptop.
The 14-inch model is equipped with an “active area” of 14.2-inches with a total of 5.9 million pixels. And the 16-inch model uses a 16.2-inch “active area” and 7.7 million pixels. All of this possible thanks to the thinner borders that extends up and around the camera. That’s right, the notch has arrived on the MacBook Pro, coming over from the iPhone.
Apple opted to make this decision in an effort to provide more screen real estate while retaining the use of a built-in camera. Speaking of which, these new MacBook Pro models now include a 1080p FaceTime HD camera. This means double the resolution and low-light performance, while using the M1 Pro or M1 Max to provide better video quality using computational video. And we have a “high-fidelity” six speaker sound system that makes use of four woofers and two tweeters which combine to provide a Spatial Audio experience from your laptop.
So we have all of this power, along with the best displays ever used in a laptop, and access to more ports other than just Thunderbolt. Battery surely has to come at a premium right? Wrong again. Apple stated that you will be able to get up to 17-hours of juice on a single charge with the 14-inch model. And the 16-inch model will last up to an incredible TWENTY ONE hours on a single charge. And with the new MagSafe chargers, we now have fast-charging on the Mac, which will get you a 50% charge in just 30 minutes.
Pricing for the 14-inch MacBook Pro starts at $1,999 with the M1 Pro chipset. The 16-inch MacBook Pro starts at $2,499 using the same configuration. Both of these models are available to pre-order starting today, and will be available in stores starting on Tuesday, October 26. Hidden in the fine-print of the announcement post, Apple also confirmed that macOS Monterey will be available for all compatible Macs beginning on Monday, October 25.
Andrew is a freelance writer based on the East Coast of the US.
He has written for a variety of sites over the years, including iMore, Android Central, Phandroid, and a few others. Now, he spends his days working for an HVAC company, while moonlighting as a freelance writer at night.