Apple Breakfast: The biggest Mac update in 15 years

Apple generates a lot of news, and it can be hard to keep up. If your mind was on other things this week, our roundup of Apple-related headlines will bring you up to date.

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One More Thing event invitation

One More Thing event invitation

Third time’s the charm

Is that it for 2020? Are there really no more Apple events to write about? Say it ain’t so, Tim!

This week saw Apple play virtual host to the world’s media for the third time this autumn, after its Time Flies event in September (watches and tablets) and Hi, Speed in October (phones and speakers). The November event, tagged One More Thing, was all about Macs; in fact it heralded, in Samuel Nyberg’s opinion, the biggest Mac transformation in 15 years.

It was all about the M1 chip, the first publicly available Apple Silicon processor. This chip, in one form or another, appears in three brand-new Macs: the MacBook Air, the Mac mini, and the MacBook Pro. All look set to break all previous records for processing power, and the laptops promise astonishing improvements in battery life.

We’ll publish reviews of these exciting new machines as soon as we can get samples in our labs. But there’s plenty to read about in the meantime: we discuss, for example, how good Apple’s M1 chip is really and we report on startling benchmark results showing that the M1-equipped MacBook Air M1 beats the Mac Pro. Like I said, powerful.

We’re also writing detailed comparisons of the new Macs with their immediate (Intel-based) predecessors. We’ve already done Mac mini (M1) vs Mac mini (Intel) and MacBook Air (M1) vs MacBook Air (Intel).

The new machines are already available to pre-order and will hit the shops next week. Here’s where to buy them at the best price.

News in brief

Let’s get the bad news out the way now: the new Macs are still limited to 720p webcams (although Apple says the superior processor means image quality will be better), and aren’t compatible with eGPUs.

Will Windows run on Apple Silicon? Parallels and VMware promise a solution.

Apple has suspended business with Pegatron, after the iPhone supplier was found to have violated the Supplier Code of Conduct. It allegedly allowed student workers to work overtime, then falsified paperwork to cover this up.

Things had been looking good for Apple in its hellishly protracted dispute with Epic Games, after a judge accused Epic of lying. Unfortunately that same judge has now proved equally sceptical with regards to Apple’s arguments, and has thrown out all but one of its points. The company is now left with a simple case of breach of contract.

Apple has announced new versions of Final Cut Pro and Logic Pro (without the X, letter fans) for those M1 Macs we mentioned earlier. Microsoft has announced that Office is ready for M1 too.

Apple had previously warned customers that the new MagSafe chargers can leave a mark on leather iPhone 12 cases. But this week the company went one better: showing the potential damage in the official product photography. Full marks for transparency!

Leather iPhone 12 case with MagSafe mark

Leather iPhone 12 case with MagSafe mark

Bugs & problems

macOS Big Sur finally rolled out this week, and there were, predictably, lots of problems. Instead of talking about all of them one by one, why don’t I just point you at our macOS update troubleshooting article, which covers them all. For the process itself, read How to install macOS Big Sur.

A recall has been announced on faulty AirPods Pro. If your active noise cancellation isn’t working or if you can hear a crackling sound, Apple will fix them.

Apple has patched a zero-day hole that was being used to attack iPhone users in the wild. The update is strongly recommended if you haven’t already got it.

The rumour mill

Which Macs will get the M1 processor next? We weigh up the likely options.

The iPhone SE 3 won’t be with us until autumn 2021, according to Ming-Chi Kuo; that’s a wait of 18 months after the launch of its (highly regarded) predecessor. I suspect the erratic launch schedule of the SE line reflects Apple’s general ambivalence towards budget products.

References to the AirPods Studio and AirTags have been spotted in iOS 14.3. We’ve also seen a leaked photo of an AirTag accessory, which led us to incorrectly assume the device would be launched at the 10 November event.

Leaked photos have also revealed the (possible) design of the third-gen AirPods. They’re a bit larger and rounder.

It’s very early days, but we’re starting to get an idea of the changes to expect from the iPhone 13. The latest report says at least two of the four new handsets will have LTPO screens, an energy-efficient technology that can improve battery life by 15%. They will also have much better cameras thanks to an upgraded ultra-wide aperture size. 

And that’s it for this week. Stay Appley!

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