Apple just unveiled its biggest MacBook Air redesign in over a decade

The M2 chip has eight processing cores – similar to the M1 – but now has up to 10 graphics cores instead of eight. It also has 24 gigabytes of memory, compared to 16 in the M1. And there’s an updated video engine to play 4K and 8K videos more smoothly.

The same M2 chip is also coming to a low-end 13-inch MacBook Pro, the company announced Monday. The new Air model will start at US$1,199 ($1899 in Australia), and Pro pricing starts at $1,299.

The new MacBook Pro looks identical to the previous version of 2020. The high-end MacBook Pros, on the other hand, were updated last year.

In a sign of ongoing supply chain challenges, the new machines won’t go on sale until next month. The computers are not yet orderable and are listed as “currently unavailable” on Apple’s website. Due to COVID-19-related shutdowns in China, a factory under contract with Apple to build Macs was temporarily closed, which delayed shipments.

The Mac line generates a fraction of Apple’s iPhone sales. But he’s been a solid performer in recent years. It accounted for nearly 11% of revenue last quarter, more than the iPad and Apple’s wearable and home products.

The MacBook Air’s last major redesign dates back to 2018, when the company added a Retina display. But the device looked similar overall to the 2010 model – previously considered the most significant redesign in laptop history. When the MacBook Air was first unveiled by Mr. Jobs, the Apple co-founder pulled the super-thin laptop out of a kraft paper envelope.

The redesigned laptop is available in space gray, silver, starlight gold, and a new dark blue called midnight. It also relies on MagSafe charging, the magnetic connector used in older versions of the MacBook Air but removed with the 2018 redesign. The updated 13-inch MacBook Pro continues to use a standard USB-C charger.

Apple intended to launch the revamped MacBook Air last year, but it was delayed by supply chain issues, chip shortages and internal design issues. Bloomberg announced this year that it would launch at the Apple Developer Conference with the new MacBook Pro.

The latest MacBook Air and MacBook Pro were two of many next-generation Macs tested with variants of the M2 chip, Bloomberg reported this year. Apple is also working on a new Mac Pro desktop, high-end MacBook Pros, Mac minis, and an iMac to be released over the next year.

Pay Later Service, iPhone Updates Revealed

Apple also unveiled a slew of new software features and services, including an updated iPhone lock screen and a pay later option that pushes the tech giant deeper into finance.

The new payment feature, called Apple Pay Later, is a highly anticipated addition to the Wallet app. Bloomberg previously announced the service was coming, part of an expansion into the world of finance that also includes bringing more of its infrastructure in-house.

The presentation, part of a week-long event, showcases key features for Apple developers, who now number 34 million, according to chief executive Tim Cook. The far-reaching upgrades aim to retain users and use more Apple products together. A change to the Mac operating system, for example, will allow customers to use their iPhone as a webcam with their computer.

Apple’s latest iPhone software, iOS 16, will include the new Lock Screen, allowing users to customize functionality and display widgets – software that handles simple tasks. A feature called Live Activities will make it easier to track events or activities, like an NBA game or an Uber ride, senior vice president Craig Federighi said at the event.

The software feature preview comes a few months before the launch of a new iPhone – Apple’s flagship product – which is usually unveiled in the third quarter of the year. This device accounted for more than half of the company’s revenue last fiscal year, generating nearly $192 billion.

The announcements also included an update that will allow users to edit messages they have already sent and undo messages. And Apple’s CarPlay is getting a redesign that will more tightly integrate with a vehicle’s instruments, such as the speedometer and other gauges.

Apple Watch Updates

The Apple Watch also benefits from improvements, such as atrial fibrillation detection to help with heart health. And the device’s latest software – watchOS 9 – will better track sleep to show what stage users are experiencing at different times of the night.

In addition, the watch will receive more so-called complications – the information on the device dial.

Monday’s announcement about Apple Pay Later hurt shares of Affirm Holdings, which offers a similar service. It was down 4.5% at 2:56 p.m. in New York. Apple’s own shares were little changed, trading at US$145.48.

Apple also said it plans to work with developers to create a “passwordless future”. The company is updating its Safari browser to make password management easier and moving towards Passkeys, which are cryptographic keys that can’t be phished and stay on the device themselves.

A new collaboration app called Freeform, meanwhile, puts Apple in closer competition with Zoom Video Communications. And the iPad gets more multitasking capabilities and a long-awaited weather app.

OS updates will be available to developers in a beta test on Monday, Cook said. And the public will be able to see them in a larger beta test next month.

iPadOS Updates

The company also announced new iPadOS keyboard shortcuts and pro features for apps like Calendar, Files, and Mail. There’s a new Mac-like find-and-replace system and duplicate file checks. IPadOS also receives custom toolbars. Developers will get frameworks to add these more professional features to their iPad apps.

New iPad Pro features will allow users to change the display density to see more content onscreen at once. There’s also Stage Manager with a revamped iPad multitasking interface and true external display support. The iPad’s new multitasking feature is quite impressive, supporting laptops directly. For the first time, you can resize windows and use more than one at a time.

The new iPadOS will have a Collaborate feature allowing users to communicate with a group of people while working on a document. Apple is also previewing Freeform, a new collaboration app with virtual sticky notes and drawings.

Apple will also add Metal 3 for games on the iPad, including a new feature for developers to allow games to get updates in the background. Game Center gets a new activity screen and better SharePlay support for games.

And for color professionals, there’s a new Reference Mode feature for the 12.9-inch iPad Pro to better match colors to professional displays. iPad business users have been asking for it for years, and Apple is finally delivering it.

Bloomberg

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