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Home / Technology / Gadgets /  Apple’s October event: Expect new MacBook Pro and AirPods

It has been a year since Apple Inc. shifted to powering Mac computers with its own chips, and the company is expected to add more to its lineup at its streamed event Monday, according to industry analysts and other Apple watchers. A refresh of the standard AirPods is also likely.

Last year’s MacBook Air and 13-inch MacBook Pro are powered by the M1 chip, a relative of the A chips found in iPhones. But in appearance they resemble the Intel-powered laptops they replaced. So with this event, we’re expecting a whole new MacBook Pro, potentially with improved, higher-contrast 14-inch and 16-inch displays. (The first redesigned M1 Macs are the candy-colored 24-inch iMacs which landed in May.)

Apple is calling the event “Unleashed"—and its announcement included the visual of a star field like the one seen when the Millennium Falcon jumps to hyperspace. This suggests a more powerful chip is en route, too.

An Apple spokeswoman declined to comment on future products.

Apple has continued to use Intel chips for its higher-end machines. “Unleashed" could also refer to it becoming untethered from Intel, though the full transition is likely to take two years, as Apple initially announced.

Because the M1 chips are similar in architecture to iPhone chips, the lower-end M1 Macs—including my own MacBook Air—have proven to be cool-running and reliable, more than their Intel-equipped predecessors.

However, winning the customers of powerhouse machines such as the 16-inch MacBook Pro will require Apple to demonstrate that its own chip is up to processor-and-graphics-intensive tasks such as video encoding, data analysis, 3-D modeling and more. (Category: Things I Never Do on My MacBook Air.) That means convincing developers of this demanding software to write code optimized for its chips, said Patrick Moorhead, founder of the tech analysis and consulting firm Moor Insights & Strategy. Until that happens, the new MacBook Pro likely won’t be for extreme power users.

“The true professionals making their money off intense video and intense audio, I think it’ll be a challenge for Apple to move them over," he said. He thinks Apple might continue to sell Intel-powered Macs through enterprise channels, even after pulling them from its own retail pages.

A major test will likely come later, when Apple eventually replaces the silicon inside the Intel Xeon-powered Mac Pro, said Mr. Moorhead, though that is not something expected this week.

AirPods, the wildly popular wire-free earbuds, also fit the “Unleashed" theme. The company last refreshed the standard $159 buds in March 2019, and has since focused on the pricier AirPods Pro and AirPods Max. The third-generation AirPods could have a new design and support for “spatial audio," Apple’s 3-D sound technology. Plenty of Apple customers wouldn’t mind if the new ones were somewhat water resistant like AirPods Pro.

What they won’t have are the health features my colleague Rolfe Winkler wrote about this past week. An in-ear thermometer and health functions such as posture alerts and hearing enhancement may not come for years—if at all. Apple might change its plan, according to the people he spoke with.

Any other surprises from Apple are unlikely. “With the improvements they made to Apple TV and the entire 13th-gen iPhone launch and the iPads," said Mr. Moorhead, “there’s not a lot more for them to update based on their traditional schedules."

Apple’s event begins at 1 p.m. ET; we’ll update this article with more details.

 

This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text

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