Tuesday, 19 October 2021 06:32

Apple unleashes its latest MUST WATCH keynote featuring new MacBook Pros, two new M1 processors, AirPods, HomePod minis, macOS 12 coming October 26 and more Featured


With the M1 Pro offering breathtaking performance that builds upon the incredible M1 launched in November 2020, and then the stunning surprise of the M1 Max that shows just how far Apple is ahead of the industry, Apple's new MacBook Pros, new AirPods, new Apple Music Voice Plan are more are set to stun, and take Apple and all of us to Warp factor 1000!

Apple hasn't just laid down the gauntlet to Intel, AMD, Qualcomm, Samsung and everyone else, it has laid down a planet-sized gauntlet that redefines computing power, while redefining just how little power such a revolutionary power play uses to power Apple's ambitions, and those of its customers.

Using less power to deliver orders of magnitude more power means much longer battery life, and this presumably means much more efficient use of the electricity generated every second of every day, whatever the means of power production.

Apple explains its two new Pro chips offer "game-changing performance," with the M1 Pro and M1 Max revolutionising the MacBook Pro experience and marking a huge step forward in the transition to Apple silicon on Mac.

As Apple states, "MacBook Pro with M1 Pro and M1 Max applies a system-on-a-chip (SoC) architecture to pro systems for the first time, featuring fast unified memory and increased memory bandwidth for unparalleled performance with best-in-class performance per watt and industry-leading power efficiency."

Plenty more detail below, but first, here's Apple's absolutely MUST-WATCH keynote, showcasing the latest in Apple Music, the Apple Music Voice Plan, new third-generation AirPods, the two new M1 Pro and M1 Max processors, and the new 14-inch MacBook Pro and 16-inch MacBook Pro:

So, here's how Apple describes the M1 Pro and M1 Max:

M1 Pro:

"M1 Pro takes the groundbreaking architecture of M1 to a whole new level. Featuring a powerful up to 10-core CPU with eight high-performance cores and two high-efficiency cores, along with an up to 16-core GPU, M1 Pro delivers up to 70 per cent faster CPU performance than M1, and up to 2x faster GPU performance.

"M1 Pro also delivers up to 200GB/s of memory bandwidth — nearly 3x the bandwidth of M1 — and supports up to 32GB of fast unified memory. Designed to dramatically speed up pro video workflows, M1 Pro adds a ProRes accelerator in the media engine, delivering unbelievably fast and power-efficient video processing."

M1 Max:

"M1 Max — the world’s most powerful chip for a pro notebook — builds on M1 Pro, taking its amazing capabilities even further. M1 Max features the same powerful 10-core CPU as M1 Pro, and doubles the GPU with up to a massive 32 cores for up to 4x faster GPU performance than M1.

"It also has up to 400GB/s of memory bandwidth — 2x that of M1 Pro and nearly 6x that of M1 — and up to 64GB of fast unified memory. With even the latest PC laptops topping out at 16GB of video memory, having this huge amount of memory available is game-changing for pro workloads, allowing pros to do things that were previously unimaginable on a notebook.

"3D artists on the new MacBook Pro can now easily work with extreme geometry and textures in scenes that pro PC laptops can’t even run. M1 Max also offers an enhanced media engine that features two ProRes accelerators for even higher multistream performance.

"As a result, pros can edit up to 30 streams of 4K ProRes video or up to seven streams of 8K ProRes video in Final Cut Pro — more streams than on a 28-core Mac Pro with Afterburner. And for the first time on any Mac, video editors can grade colour in HDR on 8K ProRes 4444 video on battery when they’re hours away from the edit bay."

Both new processors show Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger that Apple will never use Intel processors again, with Gelsinger publicly hoping, in an Axios interview with Ina Fried, to one day win Apple's processor business again with "better chips," but Intel is so far behind AMD, let alone Apple, that the first thing that comes to mind is the iconic line from the Australian movie called "The Castle", which would theoretically be from Apple to Intel... "Tell 'em they're dreaming."

Apple shared a video showing how the new processors push Pro apps to the max - and as usual, with Apple, it is highly impressive, and again, shows the rest of the industry how far ahead, how many YEARS ahead, Apple is - and Apple's customers are:

Apple has plenty more detail on both processors at its press release here with info also available at its page explaining all the features and benefits of the MacBook Pro 14-inch and 16-inch models

Which leads me to both of those notebooks, which Apple describes as delivering "extraordinary performance and battery life, and features the world’s best notebook display."

Not only are both models configurable with either new M1 processor, but they are completely redesigned, featuring three Thunderbolt 4 ports, an HDMI port, an SD card slot and the reintroduction of MagSafe with MagSafe 3, delivering more power than ever before, while both new Macs are still chargeable using USB-C chargers.

There's also a 4-element lens 1080p front facing camera in a "notch" that sits in the menu bar, allowing a taller screen with millions more pixels than earlier models, along with a six speaker sound system - and even longer battery life of up to 17 hours video playback and up to 11 hours wireless web browsing on the 14-inch MacBook Pro, and up to 21 hours video playback and up tp 14 hours wireless web browsing on the 16-inch MacBook Pro.

The M1-powered MacBook Air and MacBook Pro from late 2020 were already game changing notebooks that made traditional PCs look out of date, but the M1 Pro and Max-powered MacBook Pros should be called MaxBooks, because every creative is going to want one, or more, and this makes you wonder just how much more power Apple will be unleashing next year with future Mac Pros, Mac mini pros, iMac Pros and more.

I mean, if this is how good the M1 is, just wait until Apple launches devices classed as M2!

Here is Apple's official video on the new MacBook Pro models:

Available to pre-order from today, with availability from October 26, the 14-inch MacBook Pro model starts at AUD $2,999 (with education pricing starting at AUD $2,769), while the 16-inch MacBook Pro model starts at AUD $3,749 (and $3,449 for education). Naturally, larger memory and storage sizes, and choosing the M1 Max, will see configuration prices rise accordingly, as is always the case.

Apple's macOS 12 Monterey operating system upgrade is also coming on October 26 Australian time, which is October 25 in the US, per the macOS Monterey preview page here.

Full details of the amazing performance of both new MacBook Pro models can be seen at Apple's press release here, and its MacBook Pro pages at Apple here.

Apple has also updated Final Cut Pro and Logic Pro for the new MacBook Pro models at both new M1 Pro and Max processors, which you can read about here.

AirPods 3rd generation

Apple has also launched the third generation of AirPods, which look like they're based on the AirPods Pro design, but without active noise cancellation, and without the silicon tips. The press release is here, and the page at Apple is here.

Featuring spatial audio, which many of the songs on Apple Music are now available to listen in, Apple naturally states these AirPods deliver "advanced features and a magical experience in a new contoured design."

We're told: "by combining the power of the H1 chip with an Apple-designed acoustic system, the new AirPods use computational audio to deliver breakthrough sound with Adaptive EQ. Users can enjoy spatial audio featuring Dolby Atmos in Apple Music, movies and tv shows, along with dynamic head tracking, across Apple devices.

"The new AirPods are resistant to sweat and water, and feature a force sensor for easy and intuitive control of music and phone calls. The extended battery life enables up to six hours of listening time and up to 30 hours of total listening time with the convenient charging case. AirPods (3rd generation) join the world’s most popular family of headphones and are available to order starting today, and in stores beginning Tuesday, 26 October."

Yes, up to six hours of listening time and up to four hours of talk time means the longest battery life for AirPods yet. Five minutes of charging gives an hour extra listening time if you're in a hurry, and a fully-charged case delivers four full recharges of the AirPods giving 30 hours of total listening time, which is impressive - and the new AirPods can also be charged by MagSafe adapters.

There's no word yet as to whether these AirPods support Conversation Boost, but until we hear otherwise, it's probably only available on AirPods Pro, where it is a superbly impressive feature that I've already helped some senior friends set up - and to their surprise and delight, they claim it is better than their multi-thousand-dollar hearing aids!

The price of these new AirPods is AUD $279.

Here's Apple's AirPods (3rd-generation) video:

Apple is also launching the HomePod mini in yellow, orange and blue, adding to the space grey and white options already available, and combined with Siri's intelligence, fully seamless operation with iPhone, it is a great foundation for any smart home.

It really is great being able to ask Siri various questions, to perform a range of actions, play music, turn lights on, interact with smart home accessories, use HomePod mini as an intercom system and more - it's no surprise that Apple has designed the HomePod mini as the "ultimate smart speaker for iPhone users".

The press release is here, the official page at Apple is here, and the official video is below:

Apple Music Voice Plan

Apple has also introduced its Music Voice Plan, a new music experience, designed exclusively for Siri, for AUD $5.99 per month.

The Apple Music Voice Plan is a new subscription tier for Apple Music designed around the power of Siri.

You get all 90 million songs, tens of thousands of playlists, including hundreds of brand-new mood and activity playlists, personalised mixes and genre stations; as well as the award-winning Apple Music Radio — all through Siri for just $5.99per month.

Oliver Schusser, Apple’s vice president of Apple Music and Beats said: "Apple Music and Siri are natural partners and already work seamlessly together.

“With Siri actively used on hundreds of millions of devices worldwide, we are thrilled to add this new plan that delivers an effortless music experience just by using your voice and makes Apple Music accessible to even more people around the world.”

Users can subscribe to the Apple Music Voice Plan through Siri by saying “Hey Siri, start my Apple Music Voice trial”, or by signing up through the Apple Music app. Once subscribed to the Apple Music Voice Plan, users can 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.

Apple also notes it is "adding hundreds of new mood and activity playlists created by Apple Music’s editorial experts that are fully optimised just for voice."

Subscribers can ask Siri to “Play the dinner party playlist”, “Play something chill” or even “Play more like this” for a truly personalised music experience. These new playlists are available to every subscriber of any Apple Music plan — and make using Apple Music, together with Siri, even better. Subscribers to the Apple Music Voice Plan will also have access to Apple Music’s entire line-up of playlists, including favourites like New Music Daily, Rap Life, Today’s Hits, Today’s Country, A-List Pop, R&B Now and more.

Subscribers will get a customised in-app experience with suggestions based on the listener’s music preferences and a queue of recently played music through Siri. Within the app there will also be a dedicated section called “Just Ask Siri” where subscribers can learn tips to optimise Siri for Apple Music.

Naturally, Apple advises access to Apple Music’s premium offerings, including Spatial Audio and Lossless Audio, Lyrics, Music Videos and more, is available to subscribers who can "easily switch to Apple Music’s individual plan for $11.99 per month or family plan with up to six accounts for $17.99per month at any time."

We're also told "a one-time, seven-day free preview with no auto-renewal is offered to non-subscribers who request music through Siri."

So, all up, it's yet another amazing launch from Apple, and one which pushes the boundaries of human creativity once more with market leading hardware that will justly reward Apple, who will push the boundaries of record profits and record quarters of sales, with record customer sat levels for years to come.

Here's Apple's new Start Up song, featuring 45 years of Apple sounds - it's pretty damn cool!


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Alex Zaharov-Reutt

Alex Zaharov-Reutt is iTWire's Technology Editor is one of Australia’s best-known technology journalists and consumer tech experts, Alex has appeared in his capacity as technology expert on all of Australia’s free-to-air and pay TV networks on all the major news and current affairs programs, on commercial and public radio, and technology, lifestyle and reality TV shows. Visit Alex at Twitter here.

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