Today Apple held their ‘Unleashed’ streaming event. Given that it was only 50 minutes, it was packed with a number of announcements. As anticipated it was an event that focused on two areas, Music and Macs. Let us go in order discussed with the event, starting with Apple Music.
Apple Music Voice
Apple announced their streaming service back in at WWDC 2015. At the time they indicated it would be available in July. Since the initial announcement there have been two plans, an individual plan for $9.99 a month and a family plan for $14.99. If you have an Apple One plan, it is included. Today Apple announced a whole new plan called the “Voice” for $4.99
The Voice Plan will allow you to use only your voice and ask Siri to play a playlist, an artist, or any song from the catalog of 90 million songs and even the playlists that Apple Music has to offer.
Apple Music Voice is limited in what it offers. For instance, you do not get Spatial Audio, Lossless Audio, Lyrics, or Music Videos. These require the Individual or Family plan.
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 Apple Music Voice, 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 Music Voice plan will be available later this fall in 17 countries. It will cost $4.99 per month. If you do sign up for an Apple Music Voice Plan you will need something to play it on, say a HomePod mini. That is the next item on the agenda.
Source: Apple Newsroom
The HomePod mini is a great device for being able to listen to music, audiobooks and podcasts. The HomePod mini can also be used
When introduced there were only two colors available, White and Space Gray. There are three new colors, Blue, Orange, and Yellow. These are functionally the same as the existing Space Gray and White HomePod mini, but these can add some additional pop and color to match your existing palette or style.
These HomePod minis will be available in November for $99 each. Next, is something else you can use to listen to music, AirPods.
Source: Apple Newsroom
Apple has been in the headphones market a long time, ever since the original iPod introduced 20 years ago in October of 2001. Apple’s first pair of Wireless headphones was the AirPods introduced in December of 2016. Two and a half years later the 2nd generation AirPods were introduced in March of 2019. Today, the 3rd generation of AirPods have been introduced.
The third generation AirPods have an all new design similar to those of the AirPods Pro with shorter stems. They also have force touch support on the stems instead of having to tap on your ear. There are two big changes for the 3rd generation AirPods, support for Spatial Audio, improved battery, and wireless charging.
The third-generation AirPods support Spatial audio, so you can be immersed in whatever audio you are listening to, whether it be a song, music, or a podcast. If you are watching a video that support spatial audio you will also become immersed in the audio. This is possible through a new contour design on the AirPods that allow the Spatial audio to be directed right towards your ear.
The battery life has improved to 6 hours on a single charge with the case being able to five full charges for a total of 30 hours of charge. When you need to charge the 3rd generation AirPods you have three options, wired, using the USB-C to lightning cable, using a Qi-compatible charger, or using MagSafe.
The last item to cover is the MacBook Pro.
Source: Apple Newsroom
The MacBook Pro is the laptop designed for Pro Mac users and it just got a whole lot more pro. There are two all-new designed MacBook Pros, a 14-inch and a 16-inch. These are identical in their capabilities. We will get to those in a moment, but first we need to cover the chips that power these machines. These are the new M1 Pro and M1 Max chips.
M1 Pro and M1 Max
The M1 Pro and M1 Max chips take the features of the M1 and crank them up. The M1 Pro ranges from an 8 cores CPU and 14-Core GPU, to a 10-core CPU and 16-core GPU. The M1 Pro has a memory bandwidth of 200 Gigabytes per second. The M1 Pro has a hardware video decode engine, a dedicated video encode engine, and a dedicated ProRees encode and decode engine built right into the chip. The maximum amount of memory on the M1 Pro is 32GB.
Meanwhile, the M1 Max comes in a 10-core CPU and 24-core GPU or a 10-Core CPU and 32-Core GPU configuration. The M1 Max has double the memory bandwidth to 400 gigabytes per second, and also doubles the number of video encode engines and the number of ProRes encode and decode engines. The M1 Max can have up to 64GB of memory.
The M1 is a system on a chip and has a unified memory architecture. This means that the memory is shared, resulting in up to 64GB of video memory when you have an M1 Max with 64GB of memory. These chips also have a dedicated display engine. This display engine allows the M1 Pro to have up to two Pro Display XDRs connected at the same time. The M1 Max can support three Pro Display XDRs and 4K tv at the same time.
According to Apple, these chips are up 2x faster in CPU performance, and 4x faster in GPU performance than the standard M1. Apple states that the M1 Max uses 40% less power than a comparable Pro PC with laptop graphics, while using up to 100 watts less power.
Source: Apple Newsroom
14-Inch and 16-inch MacBook Pros
The 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pros are entirely new designs that have a bunch of new features. These features includes new displays, new connectivity, and a new camera.
The displays on the new MacBook Pros are 14.2-inch and 16.2 inch respectively. This is possible because the area around the screen has been reduced to 3.5mm on all sides. These displays use the Mini-LED technology from the iPad Pro to create super thin, but bright displays with up to 1000 nits of standard brightness and a peak of 1600 nits. The new display provides a new resolution of 3024×1964 on the 14-inch, and 3456×2244 on the 16-inch.
Since these are the same technology as the iPad Pro displays, this means that the new MacBook Pros now also feature ProMotion, which can be up to 120Hz refresh. This should make everything super smooth when using macOS. While this adaptive refresh rate is on by default, it can be set if you need a specific refresh rate for what you are working on.
The MacBook Pros have a slew of connectivity. When the 2016 MacBook Pros were introduced they switched entirely to USB-C for everything. This mean that you would need a dongle to connect to have access to any port beside USB-C. That changes with these new models.
Both models feature 3 thunderbolt 4 ports, a headphone jack with support for high-impedance headphones, a dedicated SD card slot, a dedicated HDMI port, and, the best part of all, the return of MagSafe. MagSafe 3 also allows fast charging, meaning that you can get a 50% charge in 30 minutes. Battery life in the 14-inch is up to 17 hours, and the 16-inch will get you up to 21-hours of usage.
The FaceTime camera on the MacBook Pro is in a notch and has been upgraded to a 1080p camera with an f/2.0 lens, which means that it has even better low-light performance. macOS handles the notch by extending the Menu Bar and keeping all of your content visible.
The 14-inch MacBook Pro starts at $1999 for a machine with an M1 Pro that has an 8-Core CPU, 14-Core GPU, 16GB Unified Memory, and 512GB SSD Storage. There is a slightly better model that is $2499, and comes with a 10-Core CPU, 16-Core GPU, 16GB of Unified Memory, and 1TB SSD Storage.
The MacBook Pro no longer has a TouchBar. In its place are the standard function keys. Physical function keys are generally more usable for professionals as opposed to the Touch Bar. There is still the Touch ID sensor in upper right corner of the keyboard.
With either model you can configure up to 64GB of unified memory and up to 8TB of storage. There is also Apple Care available. There is a new option for Apple Care, an Annual payment for $149 or three years of coverage for $399. You can choose between Space Gray and Silver cases options.
The 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro are available to order today with delivery starting next week. As of this writing, which is only a couple hours after the end of the end of the announcement, delivery dates have already slipped to early November for many configurations, and for some M1 Max models it is early December.
Source: Apple Newsroom
The things announced today are a definite improvement. The new Apple Music Voice plan is great for those who may only have a HomePod mini or only want to stream music without having to spend a lot.
The new colors of the HomePod mini can definitely spruce up ones place and the addition of colors is great to see. I hope to keep seeing new color options in the future.
The 3rd generation AirPods are a bit more at $179, instead of the $159 price of the 2nd generation, but they now include the wireless charging case and support for spacial audio. They should be a good improvement over the 2nd generation. I have purchased a pair of these for myself and will have a review of them sometime after I get them. The 2nd generation AirPods is still around at a new price of $129. You can order the 3rd generation AirPods today and they will begin delivery next week.
The star of the show are the new 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pros with the M1 Pro and M1 Max chips. These chips provide significant performance increases over the standard M1 and even more improvement over the previous Intel versions. The new Mini-LED displays allow for even better performance due to the capabilities of the M1 Pro and M1 Max chips, but also due to the addition of ProMotion. The battery life has significantly improved to 17 hours for the 14-inch model and up to 21 hours on the 16-inch model. You can order these starting today and they will begin shipping next week.