Apple is finally fixing the things people hate most about its laptops


The end of the MagSafe recharge. An inelegant Touch Bar. Limited selection of ports. The list of complaints about Apple’s laptops has grown steadily over the past five years. Now Apple is finally reversing these changes.

On Monday, the Cupertino, Calif., Company unveiled a pair of new MacBook Pro laptops, powered by its latest local processors and free from the many limitations that plagued previous models. It also showcased a set of updated AirPods and colorful HomePod mini smart speakers. Building on record Mac sales last year, Apple made sure to make its new MacBooks the star of its virtual event on Monday.

Still, computers running Apple’s macOS software make up only a fraction of the overall IT landscape – just over 7% at the end of the second quarter, according to market research firm IDC. Its market share fell from 8% in the first quarter to 7.6% a year earlier, according to IDC data. The changes posted on Monday appear to be aimed more at appeasing existing users than clamoring for new ones.

So what do the changes Apple has made really mean to you? Here are the main takeaways from Apple’s announcement.

Apple’s chips make these MacBooks more powerful than usual

Apple introduced two new chipsets – the M1 Pro and the M1 Max – designed to deliver the kind of power you can’t squeeze from current models.

If you spend your days working hard in Photoshop, Lightroom, or other creative apps, Apple has you covered. Apple said new MacBooks using the M1 Pro are up to 70% faster than last year’s M1 models and can be equipped with up to 32GB of RAM. Meanwhile, the M1 Max offers the same level of CPU power as the Pro, but can support up to 64GB of RAM and improve its graphics performance for more complicated tasks.

RAM (random access memory), by the way, is crucial for the operation of your computer. Think of it as your computer’s working memory: the more your computer has, the more it can track and use items in different applications. In comparison, Apple’s 2020 MacBooks Pro could only handle 16GB of RAM, which is fine in most cases but not always enough for demanding work.

If this all sounds too technical, we understand – computer chips usually are. But here’s what it boils down to: If you spend most of your time on your laptop in a web browser, the existing MacBook Pro M1 is more than enough. But if your job requires a bit of oomph, like graphic work or video editing, the M1 Pro and M1 Max machines may be a better fit for you.

Apple said the starting price for its 14-inch model is $ 1,999, while the 16-inch model starts at $ 2,499.

Undo the changes people hated

One of the best things about Apple’s new MacBooks is their non-MacBook feel, at least compared to models released in recent years.

Take the confusing and not very useful touch bar, for example. Apple has insisted on squeezing it on its laptops since 2016, but now you can find it where it was always meant to be: nowhere. (Instead, the new MacBook Pros have physical buttons to control volume, screen brightness, and other things.)

The company’s Monday announcement also included the return of the MagSafe chargers, which connect to these new computers with magnets and easily detach when pulled. (For anyone who’s ever tripped over a cable and seen their computer slam to the ground, that could be good news.) The new machines have plenty of ports: there’s HDMI for external displays and an SD card reader in more than three USB-C ports “Thunderbolt 4” ports for external accessories. (Some versions of last year’s MacBook Pro shipped with two USB-C ports and nothing else.) You’ll probably still need to take a dongle with you everywhere, but some people – like photographers – may want to take a dongle with you. ‘move on, just like in the good old days.

MagSafe returns to MacBook Pro with MagSafe 3, which has an updated design that can deliver more power to the system.  (Apple)

Better (and in some cases, larger) screens

Apple’s larger new MacBook Pro has a 16.2-inch display, as we’ve seen over the past couple of years. But the smaller MacBook Pro has seen its screen increase to 14.2 inches, which should allow you to see at least a little more of the on-screen action than before. However, size wasn’t the only change Apple made here. These displays also “refresh” or update faster, Apple claims, so things happening on the screen – scrolling websites, characters running around in games – should also feel noticeably smoother.

The new MacBook Pro features a Liquid Retina XDR display with ProMotion.  (Apple)

But there’s a catch here: Both of these screens have notches cut out to allow a 1080p webcam to watch you. This might not be a big deal for everyone, especially if it makes Zoom calls look better, but still – if smartphones can ditch notches, why didn’t Apple do it? here ?

HomePod minis and an AirPod update

If you’re looking for a HomePod mini smart speaker to match your home decor, you’re in luck, as long as your decor is blue, orange, or yellow. The speakers, along with the traditional black-and-white options, will go on sale in November for $ 99.

Apple also unveiled its third generation AirPods. The tips are still hard plastic, but the shanks are shorter and Apple claims the batteries last longer – six hours on each charge and five full charges if you have the case with you. Runners and other sweaty people may be happy to learn that AirPods are now water resistant.

A disconcerting new Apple Music subscription

This brings us perhaps to the strangest part of Apple’s announcement. The company unveiled a new “Apple Music Voice” plan at $ 4.99 per month to supplement its existing Apple Music subscriptions. The pitch: control your musical selections using voice only.

Details are hazy, but anyone familiar with Siri’s constant mistakes and misfires can shiver.

For now, we’ll stick with the good old on-screen music selection – at least until we understand exactly what value (if any) the vocal plane offers.

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