Apple held a product launch event Tuesday, where it announced its first homemade chip for the Mac, the M1.
The company also introduced three new Macs powered by the chip: A new MacBook Air laptop, a new 13-inch MacBook Pro laptop and Mac Mini desktop computer. The designs look nearly identical to the current generation of each computer. Apple made several claims about the M1's performance and how it'll contribute to better battery life in the new Macs.
All three computers are available to order now and start shipping next week. The MacBook Air starts at $999, the MacBook Pro starts at $1,299 and the Mac Mini starts at $699.
Earlier this year, Apple announced its plans to use "Apple Silicon" in its laptops and desktop computers running the MacOS operating system. Apple has used Intel chips in its Mac computers since 2005. The transition means Apple will start using chips based on the same technology as the chips in iPhones and iPads. It also means Macs will be able to run apps originally developed for iPhones.
The event lasted under an hour. Apple ended with a cheeky skit bringing back the "I'm a PC" character, played by actor, author and comedian John Hodgman, whose ineffectual boasts about Windows' capabilities are supposed to set up a stronger contrast with Apple.
CEO Tim Cook teased "more amazing experiences" coming next year.—Michelle Gao
There are three new Macs with Apple's M1 chips. They go up for preorder on Tuesday and will go on sale next week.
Big Sur, the latest version of the MacOS operating system, will release on Thursday November 12 as a free update for current Mac owners, Apple said. That's available for both older Macs based on Intel as well as Apple's new M1 macs.
Here's the starting prices for these computers:
MacBook Air: $999
13-inch MacBook Pro: $1299
Mac Mini: $699
Intel shares fell about 1% after Apple's event started. As expected, Apple announced it will be releasing its first new laptop using its own chip, rather than Intel's. Though Intel stock had been trading up before the event, it closed roughly flat for the day.
Shares of Apple fell less than 1% during the event and also closed roughly flat for the day. —Michelle Gao
Apple's 13-inch MacBook Pro will get Apple's own chips, too. They're Apple's high-end laptops designed for programmers, graphics professionals, and Apple customers who want the most powerful laptop without upgrading to the bigger 16-inch size.
Apple said it improved the camera and microphones on the 13-inch MacBook Pro. That should come in handy on Zoom calls.
Unlike the MacBook Air, the MacBook Pro has several fans to keep the laptop cool. It will manage 17 hours of web browsing battery life, which is the longest battery life in a Mac laptop, Apple said.
It will start at $1299, Apple said.— Kif Leswing
Apple's Mac Mini is its lower-end, entry-level desktop without a built-in screen. It costs $699. Apple says the M1 model has a CPU that's three times faster, a 8-core GPU, and can play games like Baldur's Gate 3. — Kif Leswing
Apple featured several developers talking about their plans to transition their iOS apps over to Mac. They emphasized the smooth process: one developer said it only took 10 minutes to transition.
They also discussed increased capabilities for video games and other projects. "The more powerful the computer, the more we can have fun," said another developer. —Michelle Gao
The MacBook Air is Apple's entry-level, thin-and-light laptop.
The MacBook Air chip's has 8-cores laptop, which makes it 3.5x faster than the previous generation, Apple said. Apple claims it is faster than 98% of PC laptops.
Apple says that it won't have a fan so it will be silent and has longer battery life — up to 15 hours browsing the web and 18 hours watching video, according to Apple.
It looks like previous models of the MacBook Air.
It will start at $999. — Kif Leswing
Apple says that developers can make "universal apps," which can run across both Intel-based and M1-based Macs. Developers including Adobe have already prepared for their apps to run on M1 Macs. Apple says that iPhone apps can run on Macs, which will increase the number of games available for Mac laptops. — Kif Leswing
Apple software boss Craig Federighi humorously lifted a MacBook's lid to show how quickly the new laptops boot up after being put to sleep. — Kif Leswing
Apple says that its family of chips is called Apple Silicon, and the version for Macs is called M1.
The company has focused on power-per-watt as its core measurement of performance, Apple chip boss Johny Srouji said. Apple is claiming that the M1 chip is the most efficient chip on the market judging by performance-per-watt.
Apple says that it combined many different components that are on its current circuitboards into a single system-on-a-chip. It's based on a 5 nanometer process, which means that Apple can fit more transistors on a smaller chip. Intel, Apple's previous laptop processor supplier, has struggled with 5 nanometer chips.
Apple integrated an Apple-designed graphics processor into the chip, Srouji said. It's also got a 16-core "neural engine," which boosts artificial intelligence tasks like image processing. — Kif Leswing
Tim Cook called 2020 the Mac's "best year ever," citing the nearly 30% increase in revenue the division brought in last quarter.—Michelle Gao
"We're on an unbelievable pace of new product releases, " Apple CEO Tim Cook says as he reviews the recent iPhone and Apple Watch launches over the past two months. — Kif Leswing
Apple still has the ability to draw attention to its events. Over 270,000 people were livestreaming the launch YouTube video five minutes before it kicked off.
This is the third Apple launch video event this fall, following an Apple Watch launch in September and the iPhone launch in October. Both previous events had over 2 million people watching on YouTube at their live peak. — Kif Leswing
Apple hasn't confirmed what it plans to announce on Tuesday — it never does — but new Mac hardware running on Apple Silicon is a good bet because the company said it would release them before the end of the year. Apple could release MacBook Pro and MacBook Air models with the new chips, Bloomberg reported last week.
Beyond that, Apple could spend time discussing MacOS Big Sur, the latest version of the MacOS operating system, which is currently in beta and hasn't been released to the public yet.
This summer, Apple announced a program for third-party developers to hook their lost item trackers into Apple's "Find My" system. Analysts and bits of code inside beta versions of iOS have also pointed to Apple building a lost item tracker, which hasn't been announced yet, as well as a pair of over-ear headphones, both of which could make an appearance on Tuesday. However, Apple's events this fall have been thematic, and Tuesday's launch looks to be focused on Macs. — Kif Leswing
Apple is selling more Macs than usual, thanks to the pandemic forcing people to work and learn from home. In Apple's fiscal fourth quarter, the company booked $9 billion in Mac revenue, up 28% from the year before. It's a good time for Apple to launch new Mac models ahead of the holidays. --Steve Kovach
It won't just be gadget geeks watching the Apple Event on Tuesday. Software developers will also be on alert for signs that Apple is transitioning Mac software completely to the Mac App Store as the only way to download apps. That would mean Mac apps would have to adhere to Apple's rules, just like iOS apps.
Today, software developers for Mac can get around Apple's rules because users are still able to install software from outside sources, like the web. But if Apple makes moves to close off an open software ecosystem on the Mac, then expect to hear complaints from companies like Spotify, Epic Games and more. --Steve Kovach
Apple has built its own processors for iPhones and iPads based on ARM technology since 2010. It's invested heavily in silicon design, particularly to save battery life. In recent years, the performance of Apple's chips has improved to the point where some technologists compare them to desktop chips.
Apple said in June that it expected the transition to its own chips to take two years, and that it will continue to support and release MacOS for Intel-based computers for years to come. Apple's chips will enable software makers to build new pro-level apps and high-end games, Apple said earlier this year.
But questions remain about how Apple will manage the transition away from Intel, which laptop and desktop models it will release first, how much they will cost and the ultimate performance level of these Apple-designed chips.
A change between different kinds of processing chips also raises software compatibility issues as well as questions about how Apple will market these laptops as different or better than the older models. On Tuesday, software developers will get answers to many of their technical questions about how Apple's new machines will handle the transition.
Investors will be watching to see if the new computers could be a boost to the company's Mac business, which posted 28% growth to $9.0 billion in sales in the quarter ending in September, driven by remote school and work-from-home trends caused by the ongoing pandemic. --Kif Leswing