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 a whopping 10 graphics cores instead of a maximum of eight. It also has a whopping 24 gigabytes of memory, versus 16 in the M1. And there is an updated video engine to play 4K and 8K video more smoothly.

The same M2 chip is also coming to a low-end 13-inch MacBook Pro, the company said Monday. The new Air model starts at $1199 dollars ($1899 in Australia), and the Pro price starts at $US1299.

The new MacBook Pro looks identical to the previous version from 2020. The high-end MacBook Pros have since been updated last year.

As a sign of ongoing supply chain challenges, the new machines will not go on sale until next month. The computers are not yet available to order and are listed on Apple’s website as “currently out of stock.” Due to COVID-19-related shutdowns in China, an Apple-contracted factory for building Macs was temporarily closed, delaying shipments.

The Mac range generates a fraction of Apple’s iPhone sales. But it’s been a solid performer in recent years. It accounted for nearly 11 percent of sales in the last quarter, ahead of the iPad and Apple’s wearables and home products.

The last major overhaul of MacBook Air was in 2018, when the company added a Retina display. But the device generally resembled 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 retrieved the ultra-thin laptop from an envelope from Manila.

The redesigned laptop comes in space gray, silver, a 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 was removed with the 2018 redesign. The updated 13-inch MacBook Pro continues to use a standard USB-C charger.

Apple planned to launch the redesigned MacBook Air last year, but it was delayed by supply chain issues, the chip shortage and internal design challenges. Bloomberg reported this year that it would launch at the Apple Developer Conference along with the new MacBook Pro.

The latest MacBook Air and MacBook Pro were two of several next-generation Macs that were tested with variations 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 that will be released sometime next year.

Pay later service, iPhone updates revealed

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

The new payment feature, called Apple Pay Later, is a highly anticipated addition to the Wallet app. Bloomberg previously reported that the service was on the way, part of an expansion into the financial world, which will also include bringing more of its infrastructure in-house.

The presentation, part of a week-long event, previews key features for Apple’s developers, who now number 34 million, according to CEO Tim Cook. The extensive upgrades are intended to keep users loyal and use more Apple products together. A change to the Mac operating system allows 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 personalize the feature and view widgets — bits of software that can perform simple tasks. A feature called Live Activities makes it easier to track events or activities, such as an NBA game or an Uber ride, senior vice president Craig Federighi said at the event.

A look at the software features 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. That device accounted for more than half of the company’s revenue in the past fiscal year and generated nearly $192 billion.

The announcements also include an update that allows users to edit messages they’ve already sent and cancel messages. And Apple’s CarPlay is getting an overhaul that will integrate better with a vehicle’s instruments, such as the speedometer and other gauges.

Updates for Apple Watch

The Apple Watch is also getting improvements like atrial fibrillation detection to aid heart health. And the device’s latest software — watchOS 9 — will better track sleep to indicate which phase users experience at different times during the night.

In addition, the watch gets more so-called complications – the bits of information on the face of the device.

Monday’s announcement about Apple Pay Later hurt stocks of Affirm Holdings, which offers a similar service. In New York, it was 4.5 percent lower at 2:56 p.m. Apple’s treasury shares had changed little and traded at $145.48 dollars.

Apple also said it plans to work with developers to create a “passwordless future.” The company is updating its Safari browser to help with password management and is moving to Passkeys, cryptographic keys that cannot be phishing and remain 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 features and a much-anticipated weather app.

The updates to the operating system will be available to developers on Monday as part of a beta test, Cook said. And the public will be able to see them in a wider 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 dual file controls. IPadOS also gets custom toolbars. Developers are getting frameworks to add these more pro-like capabilities to their iPad apps.

The new iPad Pro features allow users to change the display density to see more content on the screen at once. There’s also Stage Manager with a revamped iPad multitasking interface and true support for external displays. The iPad’s new multitasking feature is quite impressive, taking on laptops directly. For the first time, you can resize windows and control several at once.

The new iPadOS is getting a Collaborate feature that allows users to interact with a group of people while working on a document. Apple is also giving a sneak peek at Freeform, a new collaboration app with virtual sticky notes and drawings.

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

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

Bloomberg

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