Macs are about to get an upgrade. Apple is expected to announce its next generation of computers today, powered by its new M1 Pro and M1 max chips. The new devices follow last year’s M1-powered Macs, which were the first Apple lineup not powered by a chip made by Intel. Instead, Apple is using ones similar to the chips that power the iPhone, and so far has been getting positive reviews for them, too. Thus far, we’ve also heard about Airpods 3, a new voice-only plan for Apple Music and new colors for the HomePad Mini.
Apple’s latest Mac computers already have well-regarded battery life, and are able to run iPhone and iPad apps. This new lot is expected to use Apple’s M1 Pro and M1 Max, which Apple claims are a lot faster and may go further to replace the “Pro” performance computers still currently powered by Intel chips.
Follow along below for our latest updates from the event.
How MacOS and Apple’s apps benefit from the M1 chips
10:29 a.m. PT
Craig Federighi, Apple’s head of software engineering said the company’s MacOS software is designed to take advantage of the technology in the M1. He noted that because the CPU and GPU share their memory, they’re able to move data much more quickly than a typical computer, which has separated memory between the GPU and CPU.
To underscore this, he noted upgrades to the company’s pro-apps, like Logic Pro, which can now edit spatial audio on a laptop. Other apps move much quicker as well, he said.
So far, developers have created 10,000 universal apps for Apple Silicon, Apple said.
M1 Max, more-powerful than M1 Pro
10:24 a.m. PT
Apple built the M1 Max to have more GPU performance than the M1 or M1 Pro. It has 1.7x the number of transistors, and supports up to 64GB of “unified” memory. It also has a 32-core GPU.
Johny Srouji, SVP hardware technologies, said Apple’s GPU delivers more performance than a discrete GPU, like those made by Nvidia or AMD, and with 70% less power consumption.
Compared to the highest end GPU in a laptop, Srouji said, Apple’s GPU uses 100w less power, and outperforms PC laptops plugged in or on battery.
“It’s by far the most capable chip we’ve ever built,” he added.
Apple debuts M1 Pro and M1 Max
10:21 a.m. PT
Apple says it’s “completely reimagining” the MacBook Pro, starting with the “M1 Pro” chip. Johny Srouji, SVP hardware technologies, said one of its biggest benefits is that the new chip can support up to 32GB of memory, and 2x the transistors of last year’s M1. It has 8 high-performance cores, and 2 “efficiency” cores. It also has a 16-core GPU and it supports ProRes video.
M1 Pro can also support multiple displays.
“M1 Pro is unlike anything in a pro computer,” he said.
New AirPods 3
10:15 a.m. PT
Apple’s introducing a third generation of its entry-level AirPods with spatial audio built in. The new devices have a an AirPods Pro-like look, with a similar case and force sensor controls on the stems.
Susmita Dutta Apple’s engineering program manager, audio, said the company created a new “low distortion driver” and it’s sweat and water resistant.
Apple has a new “contour design,” and also has “adaptive EQ” to change how you hear sounds based on the conditions in your ear canal.
Apple says it now has 6 hours of listening time on a charge, and up to 30 hours total using the charging case.
Apple’s including wireless charging for $179. Last generation AirPods, meanwhile, will remain on sale for $129, a $30 discount.
Apple Music introduces $5 ‘Voice’ plan to access tunes solely through Siri
Apple upgrades HomePod Mini with new colors
10:09 a.m. PT
Apple’s adding yellow, orange and blue colors to its $99 HomePod Mini smart speakers. This follows upgrades for the iMac earlier this year, which offered seven colors including orange, yellow and blue as well. The new HomePod Minis will be made available starting in November. (No specific date from Apple yet.)
Upgrading Siri with new playlists and new subscription option
10:07 a.m. PT
Apple begins with a new “voice” plan for its Apple Music service, offering $5 per month to access Apple Music through Siri. The new feature will also allow Apple Music subscribers to ask for a playlist based on what’s going on, like a hike, or dinner party.
It starts with everything Apple ever made
10:03 a.m. PT
Apple began its event with an homage to the iconic startup sounds and various noises you hear from the company’s devices. Someone in their garage is writing a song using them, which is cute.
Then we get Tim Cook. “At Apple, we are focused on creating innovative products and experiences.”
He says we’ll be talking about music and the Mac today.
9:25 a.m. PT
Apple’s also expected to announce new versions of its popular $159 AirPods wireless earbuds. This new version is expected to look similar to the more expensive AirPods Pro, according to reports by Bloomberg, but won’t have the same features like active noise cancellation and “spatial” surround sound
Apple’s also expected to release its next free major Mac software update, MacOS Monterey. As has been the trend for the past few years, Apple put work into melding the Mac, iPad and iPhone even further with this release. While MacOS is still very different from its mobile device cousins, it has features that work much closer with it. Perhaps most dramatic this year is a feature that allows you to use the same keyboard and mouse to interact with a Mac laptop, desktop or iPad at any time.
9 a.m. PT
Apple’s revamp for its MacBook Pros follows earlier upgrades for its computer lines. Earlier this year, Apple upgraded its iMac line with a new entry-level $1,299 M1-powered version that came in seven colors including orange.
Aside from that, Apple’s also released upgraded versions of its $999 MacBook Air, $699 Mac Mini and entry-level $1,299 MacBook Pro. Those upgraded machines didn’t look different on the outside, but CNET’s computer reviewer Dan Ackerman found they offered impressive battery life while still running apps well.
Customers seem to be gobbling them up so far. Apple said it sold so many M1 Macs that the product line helped push its desktop and laptop revenues to an all-time high of $9.1 billion during the first three months of this year. That was up 70% from the same time a year earlier, a dramatic change in an otherwise slow-going market. “Keep in mind, in the five years prior to the pandemic, the Mac was essentially a flat business, growing on average 1% annually,” Loup Ventures analyst Gene Munster wrote in May.
Read more: All the MacBook Pro rumors out there
And it begins
8 a.m. PT
Hi everyone, welcome to CNET’s liveblog for Apple’s second major product release event this fall. As with events for the past year and a half, Apple will be broadcasting remotely over the internet.
At one point, before the delta variant of the coronavirus really started to surge, I’d wondered whether Apple would return to in-person events this fall. I started preparing in my head about whether I’d be comfortable traveling on a plane, knowing that even though I’m fully vaccinated, there’s a chance I could bring the virus back to my young children. Of course, I could bring it back from the grocery store too, but getting on a plane and traveling across the country seemed like it was a different level of risk.
Fortunately, while parents like me anxiously wait for the government to clear the vaccine for children, I won’t have to face down that choice. Pandemic or no, CNET’s team is here and ready for whatever Apple has to announce today.
Apple’s event starts at 10 a.m. PT Monday. (That’s 1 p.m. ET, 6 p.m. BST — and 4 a.m. Tuesday AET. Sorry, Australia.)
You’ll be able to stream Apple’s event straight from the company’s website. We’ll also be following along here at CNET with live video starting at 9:30 a.m. PT. We’ll give you all the details and our expert analysis as the event is happening.
What we can expect
Apple’s digital events are fast-paced, but they’re also packed with info. And expect high production values. For the HomePod Mini announcement last year, Apple built a multifloor faux house. And last month, it brought on Oscar-winning director Kathryn Bigelow to dramatize the capabilities of the cameras on its iPhone 13 Pro.