Apple on Monday unveiled in an hourlong virtual event new MacBook computers powered by Apple-made processors and an updated model of its popular AirPods.
Last year, Apple introduced a new line of computers with processors made by Apple with the assistance of a manufacturing partner, breaking its reliance on the chip maker Intel. The company said at the time that the new chip, called the M1, would make Apple devices faster and more power efficient.
The new processors, the M1 Pro and the M1 Max, power a new MacBook Pro that comes in a 14-inch and 16-inch model, starting at $2,000 and $2,500. The upgraded computers will have faster processing speeds, better graphics, improved audio quality and a better camera, the company said.
Apple also rolled back some of the changes it has made to its laptops over the years, bowing to consumer demand by getting rid of the unpopular Touch Bar, a touch screen strip above the keyboard, and re-adding ports for an HDMI cable and an SD memory card.
Apple also released a third generation of AirPods with better audio quality and longer battery life, for $179 — a $20 increase from the second iteration of the product — along with a new Apple Music subscription.
Apple computers helped make the company a famous brand, but the Mac lineup — luxury devices that typically cost upward of $900 — has always been a small fry in the PC market. Last quarter, Apple computers accounted for 7.4 percent of the global PC market, far behind Lenovo, HP and Dell, which made up more than 60 percent of sales, according to the research firm IDC.
Apple’s AirPods have been immensely popular since their debut in 2016. The wireless earbuds are top sellers among “hearables,” wireless earphones with sensors that talk to phones. This year, AirPods have accounted for 57 percent of the market for high-end hearables, far ahead of Samsung, which had 17 percent, according to a report by Counterpoint Research.
Apple’s announcement on Monday came just over a month after the tech giant unveiled a new line of iPhones — the iPhone 13 series — an upgraded Apple Watch and a new iPad.
Aside from the hardware announcements, the company has faced increasing turmoil in recent months, including more frequent calls for regulation. Apple recently appealed a court decision in its lawsuit against Epic Games, which accused it of engaging in monopolistic behavior, and last week fired a leader of the #AppleToo movement, a group of employee activists.