Apple presents new MacBook Air powered by M2 chip, plus iOS updates and more
Image credit: Apple
Apple used WWDC22 - this year's edition of its annual worldwide developer conference - to introduce two new laptops, along with major software updates across its range of devices in iOS 16, iPadOS 16, macOS Ventura and watchOS 9.
The new MacBook Air features a strikingly thin design - its all-aluminium unibody enclosure is a mere 11.3mm in thickness - and is powered by Apple's own next-generation M2 chip. The consumer-oriented laptop now has a larger 13.6-inch Liquid Retina display, a 1080p FaceTime HD camera, a four-speaker sound system and claims to have up to 18 hours of battery life. The MagSafe power cable connection also returns to the Air. Four different colours for the Air will be available, including two new options in Midnight and Starlight.
Its more professional-oriented sibling, the MacBook Pro 13”, previously announced by Apple, has also now been upgraded to the new M2 chip and retains its Retina display, FaceTime HD camera, "studio-quality mics" and up to 20 hours of battery life. With the latest upgrades to the MacBook Air, the feature gap between the two portable machines is slimmer than ever - in fact, the Air is now better equipped than the Pro in some aspects, while costing significantly less.
“We’re so excited to bring our new M2 chip to the world’s two most popular laptops — the MacBook Air and 13-inch MacBook Pro,” said Greg Joswiak, Apple’s senior vice-president of Worldwide Marketing. “Completely redesigned around M2, MacBook Air is thinner, lighter and faster with a bigger display, better camera, and all-day battery life, in four beautiful finishes.
“Only with Apple silicon can you build such a thin and light notebook with a fanless design and this combination of performance and capabilities. M2 also comes to the 13-inch MacBook Pro, featuring incredible performance, ProRes acceleration, up to 24GB of memory, and up to 20 hours of battery life — making our most portable pro notebook even better.”
Apple also announced a swathe of updates for its core software platforms across iPhone, iPad and Watch. The new iOS 16 will allow users to personalise their phone's Lock Screen with photos, customised widgets, and notification preferences. There will also be a new Shared Photo Library feature, plus enhancements to Messages and Mail. Some of these features already exist in iOS in some form, but have been made more accessible and feature rich.
Apple is also taking on increasingly popular payment-plan providers such as Klarna with the introduction of 'Apple Pay Later' to the Wallet app, along with order tracking and other useful features for consumers when shopping online. Apple Pay Later is billed as a seamless and secure way to split the cost of an Apple Pay purchase into four equal payments spread over six weeks, with zero interest and no fees. It will initially be rolled out to US users, with launches in other territories to be confirmed.
“iOS 16 is a big release with updates that will change the way you experience iPhone,” said Craig Federighi, Apple’s senior vice-president of software engineering. “We have reimagined how the Lock Screen looks and works with exciting new features that make it more personal and helpful, introduced iCloud Shared Photo Library for families, streamlined communication through new capabilities in Messages and Mail, and harnessed enhanced intelligence with updates to Live Text and Visual Look Up.”
Apple's desktop and laptop users will be getting macOS Ventura, the successor to Monterey. A new 'Stage Manager' feature introduces the ability to create your own ideal workspace, enabling users to stay more focused whilst moving seamlessly between tasks; FaceTime calls can be handed from one device to another, and the new 'Continuity Camera' feature allows the user to have their iPhone as their Mac webcam (availability of all features is dependent on handset model - iPhone XR or later is the minimum stated).
“MacOS Ventura includes powerful features and new innovations that help make the Mac experience even better. New tools like Stage Manager make focusing on tasks and moving between apps and windows easier and faster than ever, and Continuity Camera brings new videoconferencing features to any Mac, including Desk View, Studio Light and more,” said Federighi. “Ventura has so much to offer and enriches many of the ways customers use their Macs.”
For the iPad range, iPadOS 16 will enable switching between multiple overlapping apps and the same Stage Manager functionality as macOS, as the two systems increasingly converge. The new OS also allows users to connect their iPad to an external display and drag and drop files between devices. The Maps app introduces much more granular detail, while there is also finally a native Weather app for iPad - a long-time omission by Apple on this specific device - which will, apparently, feature "beautiful animations".
The iPadOS update will also introduce Freeform, Apple's new real-time collaboration app with a flexible canvas, allowing multiple users to see, share and collaborate in one place without worrying about layouts and page sizes. It will have full support for the Apple Pencil.
“iPad is our most versatile device, and we’re excited to take what it can do even further with iPadOS 16,” said Federighi. “With Stage Manager, which takes multitasking on iPad to a whole new level, plus new ways to share and collaborate via Messages, Safari, and the new Freeform app, and new pro features like Reference Mode and Display Zoom, users can get even more done on iPad.”
On the wrist, Watch owners (with compatible models) can enjoy watchOS 9, with an upgraded Workout app, a new Medications app to help people track their meds, more sleep insights, and more watch faces with greater personalisation.
“Users around the world love Apple Watch for helping them stay connected to those they love, be more active throughout the day, and better manage their health,” said Jeff Williams, Apple’s chief operating officer. “This Fall, watchOS 9 takes the Apple Watch experience to the next level with scientifically validated insights across fitness, sleep and heart health, while providing users more creative ways to make their Apple Watch their own.”
Further information about all the new releases, in exhaustive detail, is available from the dedicated WWDC22 pages on the Apple website.
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