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Everything Apple announced today at the Unleashed October 2021 event
The Apple October 2021 event, titled Unleashed, had a focus on music and Macs. It wasn’t as densely packed as we had hoped, but we did get a few new product announcements that are bound to shape Apple’s Mac lineup for the upcoming years.
Apple today introduced the much-awaited sequels to the Apple M1 chip, as well as new revamped MacBook Pros to carry these chips. We also got some announcements on the audio side of things, with an upgrade to the AirPods lineup being the most significant.
Here’s everything announced at the Apple October 2021 event.
New 14 and 16-inch MacBook Pros
After a long and rocky wait, Apple has finally revamped the MacBook Pro. It now comes in two new models, the 14-inch and the 16-inch. We also have brand new Apple M1 chips to power these MacBooks.
Apple has decided to bring back a lot of the old Pro goodies to the MacBook Pro, and regrettably, also the infamous notch.
The new chips are called the M1 Pro and M1 Max and have even more impressive performance promises than the M1 along with a 16-core Neural Engine. The M1 Pro comes with up to 200GB/s of memory bandwidth with support for up to 32GB of unified memory, and packs in 33.7 billion transistors. You get two versions of the chip, 8-core, and 10-core, with two of the cores being efficiency cores. The lower trim gets a 14-core GPU, while the higher trim gets 16 cores.
The M1 Max goes up to 400GB/s of memory bandwidth and supports up to 64GB of unified memory, and a whopping 57 billion transistors. The Pro gets a 16-core GPU, while the Max gets a 32-core GPU. The M1 Max also comes in two configurations, with the 10-core CPU staying standard, with two GPU configurations, 24-core and 32-core.
Also coming to the MacBook Pro, you get XDR displays, three Thunderbolt 4 ports, an HDMI port, and an SDXC card slot. The old laptop MagSafe power plug has made a comeback here. You get a MagSafe 3 port, with fast charging support that can allegedly charge up to 50% of the battery in 30 minutes. Also on board is an improved 1080p camera and a six-speaker sound system, with a claimed battery life of up to 21 hours. Rounding it off is the new design, which is frankly the old design brought back with some improvements, quite like what Apple did with the iPhones.
The Liquid Retina XDR displays deliver up to 1,000 nits of sustained, 1,600 nits of peak brightness, and a 1,000,000:1 contrast ratio. You also get ProMotion, with the refresh rates going up to 120Hz. The 14-inch MacBook Pro gets a resolution of 3,024 x 1,964 pixels, while the 16-inch model gets a resolution of 3,456 x 2,234 pixels. SoC configurations are plenty, with the option to pick from every single configuration for both models.
As far as the pricing goes, the MacBook Pro 14 starts at $1,999 / Rs. 1,94,900 and the MacBook Pro 16 starts at $2,499 / Rs. 2,39,900. The configuration seems to hit the ceiling around the $6,000 mark. The new MacBook Pros are up for order right now and will be available beginning Tuesday, October 26.
Also read: Apple M1 tested
Dolby Atmos and Spatial Audio got the early airtime in the AirPods section of the event, followed by the announcement of the next generation of AirPods.
AirPods 3 are finally here! True to the leaks, they look like the AirPods Pro, minus the ear tips. You get a low-distortion speaker and Spatial Audio support. AirPods 3 are also sweat- and water-resistant. It comes with a new contour design for a better fit, and Adaptive EQ, which adjusts frequencies according to the fit of the AirPods in the user’s ear, to ensure the sound you hear is as intended.
You’re also getting the promise of longer battery life with these. Apple claims AirPods 3 offer an extra hour over the AirPods 2, totaling up to six hours of listening time and up to four hours of talk time, with five minutes of charging giving about an hour of battery life. The charging case comes with the capacity for four additional charges, totaling up to 30 hours of listening time in total.
AirPods 3 also support MagSafe wireless charging. The starting price of AirPods 3 is $179 / Rs. 18,500, and are available to order right now and will be available in stores beginning Tuesday, October 26. The older AirPods 2 will now start at $129 / Rs. 12,900.
HomePod Mini in new colors, and Apple Music Voice Plan
HomePod Mini got a rather minor upgrade if you can even call it that. First off, we can now get the HomePod Mini in three new colors, orange, yellow, and blue, in addition to the already available white and Space Gray. The price stays at $99, but it’s getting multi-user voice recognition via Siri, coming later this year, and automatic Siri volume based on ambient noise and user volume.
Apple Music Voice Plan was the first announcement of the lot. It’s basically a new tier for Apple Music that joins the already available tiers. The announcement details were rather fuzzy, with this being labeled as a way to use the power of Siri access the entire Apple Music catalog.
The Apple Music Voice Plan will let users request music be played across all of their Siri-enabled devices, including HomePod Mini, AirPods, iPhone, or any other Apple device, and when using CarPlay. All in all, this is just a stripped-down, lower-tier Apple Music plan. It will cost $4.99 per month, and will lack access to Spatial Audio, lossless audio, lyrics, music videos, as well as support for non-Apple devices.
It will be available later this fall in 17 countries and regions, including Australia, Austria, Canada, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, Spain, Taiwan, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
The disappointments — No Mac Mini, iPod
The notch on the new MacBook Pros was not the only disappointment of this event. While the new silicon announced was really exciting, Apple today did not announce any more Mac devices than the MacBook Pro. The Mac Mini was the notable absence, and we can only hope it’s getting the swanky new silicon in the near future.
The other disappointment was the lack of an iPod announcement. Sure, it was a far reach to expect it, but given that we’re in the 20th anniversary week of the iPod, and the event had a section dedicated to Music, it just seems cruel that the iPod didn’t even get a mention. We can only hope the iPod lineup is not dead.
We do expect more of the Mac devices to get the Apple Silicon treatment in the coming year, so fingers crossed for a beefy Mac Mini if nothing else!
What do you think about the announcements at Apple’s October 2021 event? Let us know in the comments.