Another week has come and gone, and boy, what a week it has been! On Monday, we had Apple’s “Unleashed” event, which was all about music and MacBook Pros. I actually already had plans that day for the third wedding anniversary with my husband, so I wasn’t working it — and honestly, it was nice to just be able to watch an Apple event later without stressing out. But my colleagues here at iMore did a fantastic job covering the event for all of you amazing readers! So let’s get right down to it.
The first things that Apple announced involved music and audio. We now have an Apple Music Voice Plan that starts at $5 a month, which I think is an interesting new addition to its services lineup. Essentially, this is a very basic Apple Music plan that requires you to use Apple Music with Siri only for browsing and playing music, including playback controls. It’s perfect for HomePod mini users but can also be used on all other Apple devices, such as your best iPhone and iPad. To make this even more of an enticing service, Apple has added hundreds of new activity and mood-specific playlists to Apple Music, so there’s a playlist for pretty much anything you’d need one for. And don’t forget the bright and colorful new options for HomePod mini.
While the Apple Music Voice Plan isn’t quite my cup of tea (I just have Apple One Premium and prefer to listen to entire albums or specific songs), I think it’s a great way to get people started with Apple Music as a whole. I also don’t use Siri as often as I should, those who do may find this new Voice Plan a valuable addition. But keep in mind that you can only use Siri to control and access it, and there is no Dolby Atmos or Lossless audio format with the Voice Plan.
The big release with music, though, was AirPods 3. These new AirPods have an all-new design that is more reminiscent of the AirPods Pro, minus Active Noise Cancellation and silicone ear tips. You do get Spatial Audio, Adaptive EQ, Dolby Atmos, and a new MagSafe-compatible charging case. The charging case for AirPods 3 is also a bit wider than the AirPods 2 that are still on sale, but not quite as fat as the AirPods Pro case — it’s an entirely new middle ground.
Personally, as exciting as the new AirPods 3 are, I’m still holding out for the next iteration of AirPods Pro 2. I much prefer having the silicone ear tips, and honestly can’t live without Active Noise Cancellation, so AirPods 3 just aren’t for me. However, I am rather curious if they’ll fit better in my ears, even without silicone tips, because of the new design. I had original AirPods that I didn’t like to use much because they always felt like they would fall out of my ears.
Now, the real meat of the Unleashed event was with the new Apple silicon: M1 Pro and M1 Max, as well as the new 14- and 16-inch MacBook Pros that they come in. Basically, the M1 Pro and M1 Max are incredibly powerful chips that are definitely geared more for creative professionals who need a lot of graphical power for their work — as much as I’d like to have these, it may be a little overkill for my line of work (I’m just a writer, after all). But they’re certainly enticing, I must admit!
I actually am more excited about the new MacBook Pro designs, though. It seems that we’re moving away from the “form over function” era that reigned supreme with Jony Ive and going back to the “function over form” days. After all, these new MacBook Pros come with an HDMI port and SDXC card slot, a new headphone jack that supports high-impedance headphones, and even brought back MagSafe 3. MagSafe is back on Macs!
Seriously, rejoice. I hated the fact that Apple took away MagSafe for USB-C charging because I always appreciated the safeguard that MagSafe provided in case someone ever trips on the charging cord for it. However, as someone who prefers to use mechanical keyboards and has an audio setup with a USB microphone, I was a little disappointed to see that there was no return of standard USB-A ports. I guess dongle life isn’t completely gone, as I don’t really use HDMI or SD cards in my daily workflow. And while I still prefer mechanical keyboards, I must admit that the new black keyboard on the MacBook Pros looks incredibly nice and good riddance to the Touch Bar. That notch was certainly not something I was expecting to be real, but I’m glad that it won’t interfere as much on the Mac as it does on an iPhone. Plus, if you have that many menu bar icons that the notch may start messing with your setup, then perhaps you should look into something like Bartender 4 to clean it up (I highly recommend this software). Really though, I am a little surprised that the notch is there, and we don’t have Face ID on Mac yet, however. But it’s a step in the right direction, I suppose.
And while we’re on the subject of Macs, if you’re waiting for Monterey, don’t worry — it’s coming this week! To go with the new MacBook Pros, macOS Monterey is launching on Oct. 25. However, if you’ve been waiting for Monterey because of the Universal Control feature, then you’re going to have to wait a bit longer, as that feature isn’t in the initial launch. All Apple has said about Universal Control is that it’s coming ‘later this fall.’ I’m sure it’s going to be worth the wait, though, and I’d rather Apple get it right than release something that is incredibly buggy and doesn’t work correctly.
That wraps it up for this week. Until next time!
- Christine Romero-Chan