: Apple unveils new AirPods and high-end Mac computers as it expands its holiday lineup

Apple Inc. executives announced new Mac personal computers featuring the company’s custom chips and an upgraded set of AirPods on Monday, filling out its holiday lineup.


unveiled a new version of its entry-level AirPods earbuds featuring shorter stems, a wireless-charging case and longer battery life at a virtual event Monday. The company is also bringing spatial-audio capabilities, which aim to make sound more immersive, to the entry-level AirPods.

The third-generation AirPods, which will cost $179, will last for six hours on a single charge and feature a quick-charging function that offers one hour of battery life after just five minutes of charging.

Apple also announced new yellow, blue and orange color options for its $99 HomePod mini smart speakers. In addition, the company revealed a cheaper “voice” plan for its Apple Music service, which will let people tap the company’s catalog of songs for $4.99 when they access it through Siri. This option is cheaper than the traditional $9.99 version of Apple Music but seems to withhold some in-app conveniences of tinkering with the app by hand.

Apple is in the process of moving its Mac lineup over to its own custom chips, and it’s also upgrading those chips. The company announced two new chips Monday that are intended to drive performance benefits over the company’s existing M1 silicon.

The new M1 Pro and M1 Max chips have 70% faster CPU performance than the M1. The M1 Pro chip offers GPU performance that is up to two times faster than on the M1, while the M1 Max can deliver performance that’s up to four times faster. Both allow for greater memory bandwidth and Apple said that they have accelerators made for professional video processing.

Apple’s new 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro computers, announced Monday, will feature these new chips. The laptops will also sport improvements in battery life, with the 14-inch model delivering up to 17 hours of video playback, up seven hours from the previous generation MacBook Pro. The 16-inch model will have up to 21 hours of battery life, an increase of 10 hours.

The MacBook Pro lineup will be gaining fast-charging functions, meaning that the devices will be able to reach 50% battery life on just 30 minutes of charging.

Apple is bringing back several elements well-loved by past MacBook Pro users. The devices will have an HDMI port, allowing users to connect the laptops to external displays, as well as an SDXC card slot and a MagSafe 3 port for charging.

The company is also revamping the MacBook Pro keyboard. It will now have a row of function keys that are the same height as the others and a wider escape key. In doing so, Apple is moving away from the Touch Bar that it introduced a few years back and “bringing back the familiar, tactile feel of mechanical keys,” per its press release.

The 14-inch MacBook Pro will start at $1,999, while the 16-inch model will begin at $2,499. Both are currently available for preorder and will hit stores Tuesday, Oct. 26.

The new MacBook Pro laptops, AirPods and colorful HomePod mini speakers will be the latest addition to Apple’s device lineup, which also includes the iPhone 13 line announced last month. The company once again revealed four new phones with an emphasis on enhanced video and camera functions. The iPhones have a “cinematic” filming function that generates better-quality footage.

Apple also announced new Apple Watch devices with larger screens as well as new iPads at it September event.

Shares of Apple were up 0.8% in Monday afternoon trading. They’ve gained 22.6% over the past 12 months as the Dow Jones Industrial Average
which counts Apple as a component, has increased 23.2%.

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