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Apple's Unleashed event as it happened: new MacBook Pro, AirPods 3 and M1 Pro chips revealed

Everything that Apple announced

Apple Event 2020
(Image: © Apple)

The Apple October 2021 event is over, with the 'Unleashed!' showcase having indeed seen a number of exciting new Apple devices unleashed upon the general public.

There were the two new Macbooks – the MacBook Pro 16-inch (2021) and MacBook Pro 14-inch (2021) – as well as the new AirPods 3, not to mention offering a better glimpse of macOS Monterey.

There were some big surprises as well, notably as two new M1 chips, the Apple M1 Pro and M1 Max, which will power the new MacBooks and promise tremendous performance improvements over the silicon chips in previous MacBooks.

And who can forget the Apple cleaning cloth, which is just a microfibre cloth, but all fancy and official the way Apple users like it?

Apple also revealed a new subscription tier for Apple Music, and some new HomePod mini colors as well. Not a bad haul! 

Read on below for all the information and announcements as they happened, along with a video recap of the event – but if you're just hungry for big announcements, don't forget to check out our Google Pixel 6 launch event that's happening today first.

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Hello everyone! We've got another Apple event to look forward to today. We'll bring you all the latest news as it happens in the build-up, and during, today's 'Unleashed' event.

If you want to get yourself a little more in the zone, crank the volume up on your speakers for the 12 second teaser video (below) posted by Apple's SVP for Marketing, Greg Joswiak.

There's a strong hint that today's announcement will be speed related, which falls in line with rumors suggesting we'll see a more powerful version of Apple's computing chip - currently dubbed M1X - in new MacBook Pros.

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Even though there are only a few hours until the event starts, we're still getting plenty of rumors and leaks. The latest batch suggest the new MacBook Pro 14-inch and 16-inch laptops could come with seriously thin displays which could mean that come with an iPhone-style notch for the webcam.

That would mean these new MacBooks could be coming with quite a radical redesign, which is certainly a good thing. Apple has kepts its MacBook designs pretty similar for several years now, so we'd love a big redesign like the iMac 24-inch got earlier this year.

However, having a notch for the webcam may not be to everyone's liking. I'm not entirely convinced about this rumor, but a few sources have now mentioned it. At least we won't have long to wait to find out...

It looks as though the online Apple Store has been taken down ahead of todays event. If this is your first rodeo, don't panic! Downtime is normal on the day of an Apple event, typically done by Apple itself rather than it crashing for nefarious reasons.

You can still get onto the site, but you'll be directed to a holding screen that says: "We'll be right back. Updates are coming to the Apple Store. Check back soon" if you try clicking on any of the available buying links. 

It'll come back online likely in sections as products are announced during the event, or after the event has concluded. If you're desperate to get your hands on some new AirPods 3 or a beefy MacBook Pro 16-inch then warm up your fingers to practice speedily adding to the basket – given the current global chip shortage, there's no way to know if stock will be plentiful to avoid disappointing potential customers in the run-up to the Holiday season.

Image of the Apple store going down

(Image credit: Apple)

Here's what you'll be faced with if you try to go to the Apple online store. I'm not sure how much of this is essential maintenance, and how much is just drumming up hype. After all, most companies can add new devices to their stores without having to take the whole thing down.

Still, it does help add to the overall hype of an Apple event...

While there's a lot of excitement (especially from me) about the potential new MacBooks being shown off today, there's also been rumors of new AirPods coming as well. 

Here's what Olivia Tambini, our Audio Editor, thinks we could see today:

"We get our hopes up for an AirPods 3 launch whenever a new Apple event is announced - and so far, we’ve been disappointed every single time. Something feels different about today’s event, though - supply chain sources have even confirmed that the AirPods 3 will be unveiled today, according to industry analyst Dan Ives. We’re going into today’s event fully expecting to see the new earbuds, and we can’t wait to see how Apple has upgraded the AirPods for 2021. As for the AirPods Pro 2? We don’t think it’s super likely, but never say never..."

Our Editor in Chief, Gareth Beavis, has high hopes for the Apple event:

"Today's event could be seismic for Apple - the waves the M1 chipset caused were huge in the computing world and instantly placed Apple in the conversation for best internal hardware, so any upgrades here will increase that momentum. And with the holidays and Black Friday approaching, new AirPods will both give those that are desperate for improved sound something to wish for, as well as further reducing the price of the older tech, giving Apple two bites of the... well, you know."

One of the most persistent rumors surrounding the new MacBooks suggests that Apple may drop the Touch Bar from the 16-inch model. If you've not used it, the Touch Bar is a small, thin, display that runs across the top of the keyboard and shows context-sensitive buttons, depending on what app you're using.

As you can see from the tweet below, these feature was rather divisive. Some people found it useful, while others felt it was a gimmick that simply made the MacBooks it appeared on more expensive.

I'm kind of torn about it. It did have its uses, but not enough to really justify it being there, so if Apple has killed it off, I wouldn't particularly miss it, especially if it resulted in a cheaper, thinner and lighter MacBook Pro.

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Wondering why you can't buy an iPhone today? As we mentioned earlier, the Apple Store has been taken down in preparation for the event later, and that means for anyone who wants to buy an Apple device direct from Apple, you'll have to hold tight. 

Tom Bedford from our phones team has put together a good explainer on why you can't buy an iPhone right now with more details.

So, what does Jess Weatherbed, our Computing staff writer want from any new MacBooks today?

"1080p webcam please, for the love of god," is her refreshingly frank response. From some of the rumors we've heard, she might be in luck!

If we are indeed getting new MacBooks today, we should find out more about macOS 12 Monterey's release date. This is the upcoming version of  the operating system that Macs and MacBooks run on, and any new Mac devices announced today will likely launch with it pre-installed.

While you could download the macOS Monterey public beta for a while now, we've not heard when the software will actually release, so if Apple announces new MacBooks (and it's very likely it will at this point), then it makes sense to also announce when macOS Monterey will be made available. As well as coming pre-installed on any new MacBooks, it'll be offered as a free upgrade for compatible Macs and MacBooks as well.

So, what does Daryl Baxter, our Software Writer, think Apple will show today, when it comes to macOS Monterey?

"I think Universal Control will launch as a 'beta feature' that users can opt into. The notch on the new MacBooks will most likely be hidden, thanks to the menubar now able to be displayed in other places:"

Having Universal Control as a beta feature will be a bit disappointing for some, as it's easily one of the best new features coming with Monterey, allowing you to easily set up an iPad as a second screen to your Mac or MacBook, and use the keyboard and mouse of the Mac to control the iPad.

If it's included as a beta feature, it means it won't be fully functional, so there may be bugs and problems with how it works. Personally, I'd rather Apple held off including it until it was final, rather than including it early, bugs and all.

Daryl also thinks iOS 15.1 will launch " on the same date as Monterey so that SharePlay can get its moment to shine. My spidey-sense tells me next Monday for this."

Well... look who's awake!

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Most rumors about the upcoming MacBooks hint at quite a radical redesign coming, but we won't know what they'll look like until Apple shows them off later today (hopefully). Still, some people online have been creating renders of what they think or hope the MacBooks will look like, such as these:

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Could the new MacBooks look like those? Perhaps, it would certainly make them look more inline with the new iPhone and iMac designs.

When it comes to design, it seems like many people want Apple to bring more color options to the new MacBooks, like it did with the iMac earlier this year.

"I want more color options, as unlikely as that might be, says Jess. "Why should the Air/iMac/iPad Air 4 get all the fun?"

Daryl, meanwhile, wants "the Apple logo on the back of these new MacBooks to either glow again or have the rainbow logo make a return. Just because."

And John Loeffler, our US Computing Staff Writer, says "bring back the translucent colored plastic chassis!"

Image of an old MacBook

(Image credit: Apple)

I think he's joking. Well, I hope he is...

For people who don't care about MacBooks (how dare you), as I mentioned earlier, there may be some AirPod action as well.

Apple's true wireless earphones have proved to be massively popular (I see them all over the place... usually in people's ears), so a new version would make a lot of people happy.

Our Audio Editor Olivia Tambini has put together a list of the six things she wants to see from the Apple AirPods 3, to help you get an idea of what upgrades we could be getting.

Not sure how reputable this leak is, but it appears to show Apple Store entries for the new MacBooks which will come in 14-inch and 16-inch sizes. As with other rumors, it suggests the MacBooks will come with miniLED screens, like the iPad Pro, which if true should allow for some truly stunning displays on these new MacBooks.

Apple's laptops used to be industry leaders when it came to screen quality, but recently there have been Windows laptops coming out with much nicer screens, offering higher resolutions such as 4K, and improved screen tech like OLED. So, new MacBooks coming with miniLED screens could help Apple take the lead once again.

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Will we see any new iPhones or iPads today? James Peckham, our Phones Editor, doesn't think so.

"Don't expect an iPhone 14 or a new iPad at today's big Apple event. September's iPhone 13 launch brought new handsets and two new iPad models, which means most of these product lines are likely complete for 2021. We expect to see a new iPad Air at some stage, but it's looking likely that won't land until at least early 2022. We may hear something in terms of software - for example, we may hear a release date for iOS 15.1 - but Apple is likely to keep this event computing and audio focussed."

This makes total sense, as Apple won't want any new MacBooks to be overshadowed by new iPhones, and with the iPhone 13 family only a month old, we doubt Apple would announce any new models so soon.

One hour to go! With all these rumors, I'm now really looking forward to some powerful new MacBooks with radical redesigns. The MacBook Air (M1, 2020) really impressed me last year, so much so that I put it top of our best laptops list. The MacBook Pro 13-inch (M1, 2020) was also a fantastic laptop, so if Apple has made better looking and better performing MacBooks, then they could be very special indeed.

One thing that all the rumors regarding the new MacBooks seem to agree on is that we'll be seeing MacBook Pro models today, which are more powerful (and expensive) laptops aimed a professionals, especially creatives.

That means probably no plain MacBooks or MacBook Airs. So, with these new MacBook Pros, Apple has a chance to redesign them to better suit professionals. That means not just packing them with more powerful components, such as the rumored Apple M1X chip, but more ports as well.

The number of ports on a laptop may not be the most exciting topic, but previous MacBook Pros have stuck to either two or four USB-C ports, which frankly isn't enough for many professionals. Anyone who has older USB devices that require the USB-A port, for example, will need to plug in an adapter (also called a dongle), which ruins the look of the MacBook somewhat. It's the same with photographers who need to get photos off a memory card, as there's no memory card slot included in MacBooks, so you need a memory card adaptor. By increasing the number of ports, as well as adding a memory card slot, the new MacBook Pros could once again be the laptop of choice for creative professionals.

This is a handy countdown. 30 minutes!

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Ten minutes to go! A few years ago, this is when I'd be trying desperately to find a way to view the Apple live stream in Windows, but thankfully Apple's insistence on having to use Safari on an Apple device is behind us, as anyone can now view it via YouTube.

Not only does this make my life easier (as I have a house full of Windows devices), but it means people who don't already have a MacBook can see what the new devices are all about.

Here we go! The music is... something... and we're getting a hyperspeed-like effect zooming into the Apple logo. Very Star Wars.

The music stopped. Thank god. Ooh there's an old iMac getting turned on, with the startup sound getting sampled in a new MacBook. A clue to what we're about to get?

Very retro, and means we're obviously getting some devices that look back at Apple's iconic devices from the past, while also appealing to creators.

Tim Cook is here, says we're focusing on two areas: music and the Mac.

Talking about deep integration, with amazing sound quality across all your devices. This feels like it's building up to the AirPods 3.

Zane Lowe is now chatting about Apple Music. He has a nice yellow hat on.

Apple

(Image credit: Apple)

Here's a screenshot from the opening video showing a classic iMac.

Apple Unleashed

(Image credit: Apple)

Apple music has over 90 million songs and 30,000 curated playlists , and now Apple Music + Siri has new playlists for hundreds of moods. Also there's a new subscription plan: The Voice Plan. You use only your voice. $4.99 a month and available 'later this fall'.

This subscription is cheaper than previous subscriptions - Individual Plan is twice the cost at $9.99. Voice Plan only works on Apple devices, and can be used by one person. No support for spatial or lossless audio. 

You'll need Individual for that.

Homepod mini is now coming in new colors. They look nice! And of course you can use Siri with them. Could match a new colorful MacBook Pro... just saying...

Will cost $99 and available in November. "Homepod mini will look great wherever it's put" says Tim Cook.

Apple Unleashed

(Image credit: Apple)

Now we're talking about AirPods.'Trippy electronic music' is playing according to the subtitles.

Lots of hype for spatial audio, which I admit does sound (ho ho) cool, and Apple wants to bring it to more of its customers - and here it is, the third generation AirPods!!

Looks like they have noticably shorter stems. Called new AirPods with Spatial Audio, it seems. Uh... Catchy, I guess.

Comes with force sensors on the stem, and new low-distortion driver. They are also sweat and water resistant.

Adaptive EQ coming from AirPods Pro, and has a one-touch setup to automatically pair with all Apple devices. You'll get 6 hours of listening time, and a 5-minute charge will give you one hour listening time. With the battery case (which now comes with MagSafe charging), you get 30 hours of total listing time.

Apple Unleashed

(Image credit: Apple)

Oh and it'll cost $179!

And now Tim Cook is talking about Macs, and he's chatting about how 'M1 is a breakthrough' - I totally agree. Mac has now had 'it's best year ever'. Now Apple Silicon is coming to more devices, says Cook.

Apple is 'completely reimagining the MacBook Pro'. Exciting! 

The new chip, which has been made for Macs, is called... M1 Pro! Ugh we all thought it would be called M1X. Oh well! Seems like it could be a nice upgrade.

Apple Unleashed

(Image credit: Apple)

We're not getting into some techy information. The M1 Pro has a "two-chip architecture requires more power and cooling and separate memory pools and slow interface between the two."

It'll give us  200GB/s of memory bandwidth (which is almost three times that of M1) .

Two times faster graphics performance from M1, and 70% faster CPU performance. Will come with 16 GPU cores, and will have a new media engine for video encoding.

Apple Unleashed

(Image credit: Apple)

Oh there's another new chip! WHAT. The M1 Max. Blimey!

The M1 Mac will have higher bandwidth on-chip fabric, doubles memory interface, 400GB/s memory bandwidth and 64GB unified memory. Previous M1 MacBooks were limited to 16GB.

It's a HUGE chip, and is four times faster than the M1. Apple's now claiming this will offer 'industry leading performance-per-watt '.

Apple is now comparing M1 Max chips compared to a high end PC system, which has a discrete GPU (so a gaming laptop), and the M1 Max offers less graphical performance, hut a lot less power, so you're getting better battery lives.

Also, the PC laptop's GPU performance drops when it's on battery. But the M1 Max then outperforms the PC laptop when both are unplugged.

Here's some graphs from Apple:

Apple Unleashed

(Image credit: Apple)

Could AMD, Intel and even Nvidia start worrying about this? They should, if Apple's big talk pays off.

Apple Unleashed

(Image credit: Apple)

We're now on macOS Monterey and how it works with the new M1 Max and M1 Pro chips. 

We're getting system-wide improvements, assigning tasks across the cores intelligently and an operating system that is build for the unified memory.

It's now three times faster than the MacBook Pro with Intel Core i9.

We're now looking at some of Apple's own apps. Logic Pro, then, can now let users create spatial audio. It looks like Apple is serious about making its software run as well as possible on M1 hardware, especially M1 Max and M1 Pro. This is where Apple's control over both hardware and software pays off big time.

And now we should see the new MacBooks! Ooh! MagSafe! New ports! A full size HDMI port! PRAISE BE!

All-new, completely redesigned. And it comes in two sizes, 16-inches and the all-new 14-inch size! The rumors were right!

The two models share the same capabilities, and it's got a new thermal design to keep it cool under load.

4.7 pounds and 16.8mm thin for the 16-inch model. 3.5 pounds and 15.5 mm thin for the 14-inch model.

There's a new keyboard, and a Force Touch trackpad. 

Now we're onto ports - what I've asked them to add for AGES. So there's HDMI, a Thunderbolt 4 port and SD card on the right. On the left-hand side there's headphone jack, two more Thunderbolt 4 ports. 

'Most advanced connectivity ever' for a MacBook. No more dongles! No more adaptors! Yey!

Apple Unleashed

(Image credit: Apple)

Apple Unleashed

(Image credit: Apple)

Now we're talking about the screen. You get 3.5mm size bezels, allowing for the 16-inch to have a 16.2-inch screen size and 7.7 million pixels. There is a notch for the webcam though :/

macOS's menu will be moved up around the webcam notch, though.

The 14-inch comes with 14.2-inch size, and has 5.9 million pixels. There's ProMotion for 120Hz refresh rates, which adapt to the content the screen is showing.

Apple Unleashed

(Image credit: Apple)

As rumored, you get MiniLED technology, with 1,000,000:1 contrast ratio and local dimming. 1,600 nits of peak brightness. This is going to look amazing.

Our Editor-In-Chief weighs in:

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So, that camera, you get 1080p FaceTime (THANK YOU), with a larger image sensor for twice the low light performance. There's also smart HDR and auto exposure.

There's also a three-mic array and six-speaker system with two tweeters and four woofers. There's also support for spatial audio. These days working remotely means webcam and audio quality is so important, so this is great to see.

Apple Unleashed

(Image credit: Apple)

Here's everything you need to know about the AirPods 3, including release date and price.

Apple Unleashed

(Image credit: Apple)

Back to the MacBooks, there's super-fast SSDs with 7.4GB/s data transfer speeds, and 17 hours of video playback on the 14-inch MacBook Pro, and 21 hours video playback on the 16-inch.

You get fast charge, with 50% battery life restored in just 30 minutes, and both models have 100% recycled aluminium enclosure.

Apple Unleashed

(Image credit: Apple)

'The world's best notebook' Apple says. Well, we'll be the judge of that. Does look good.

The MacBook Pro 14-inch with M1 Pro starts at $1,999, and the MacBook Pro 16-inch M1 Pro starts at $2,499, and you can order them today, and they will be available next week.

No mention on what both models with the M1 Max chips will have, however. I guess it will be: A LOT.

And that's it! Tim Cook wishes us all a great day and tells us to stay safe. There was some impressive stats thrown about there, and I have no doubt that these new MacBook Pros, and the M1 Pro and M1 Max chips that power them, will be very good devices, but we'll have to test them out for ourselves to see just how good they are.

Below is a screenshot of Tim Cook saying goodbye.

Apple Unleashed

(Image credit: Apple)

Apple Unleashed

(Image credit: Apple)

Here's a glimpse of the two new MacBook Pros back-to-back. Both will be available in Silver and Space Gray.

And that's about it for the live blog! I liked what I saw, and Apple made some bold promises with the new MacBook Pros. I love that it has finally added more ports, that's been something I've been bugging them about for ages. Probably can't take credit for changing Apple's mind, though.

Oh and we've just seen that macOS Monterey will be available as a free update on Monday, October 25!

While we got a better look at macOS 12 Monterey and iOS 15.1 are about to launch, a blogger has spotted another update in the design of Safari 15, where tabs are now reverting back to how they originally looked.

The tabs were looking more like floating panels below the address bar, which took up more space, while not being clear in which window was active, confusing users. This has now been walked back.

We've gone an in-depth assessment of the new Apple M1 Pro vs M1 Max processors, to help you decide which chip should be in your next Macbook. They're both leaps ahead of the existing M1 chip, but which one is best for you will depend on whether you're doing more CPU-intensive work, or more graphically-advanced tasks. Read our full guide for all the info.