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Apple launches M2-powered MacBook Air with 'Ventura' OS

The tech giant also unveiled an upgraded MacBook Pro, Continuity Camera, and iOS 16 at WWDC 22

Apple had a few hardware surprises at its annual developer conference, unveiling a new MacBook Air featuring its next-generation M2 processor, among a slew of other updates and launches. 

The World Wide Developer Conference (WWDC) isn't usually a hardware-focused event, but Monday's live show also featured a new MacBook Pro in addition to the new MacBook Air. Both laptops came sandwiched between announcements for the company's new mobile and desktop operating systems, iOS 16 and macOS Ventura, respectively. 

“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."

Ventura, which will be available to install from July, comes packed with a host of new featues and updates to improve Safari, Mail, and user workflows. While iOS 16 also has some eye-catching capabilities for messaging and Apple Pay that are bound to delight users. 

MacBook Air, MacBook Pro and M2

Before announcing any of its new laptops, Apple gave plenty of airtime to its next-generation 5nm processor, the M2. This, it said, was built to maximise performance while reducing power consumption. It will offer 50% greater bandwidth and 25% higher graphics performance compared to M1, the firm claimed. 

Much like its predecessor, the M2 is customised Arm silicon, built, this time, with 20 billion transistors, which should boost CPU performancw, with Apple suggesting that this will be 1.9 times faster than the latest 10-core PC chip. The M2 features four high-efficiency cores with a shared 16MB cache on the performance cores. 

While the new chip was very much expected, what it was going to be housed in first wasn't easily predicted. Rumours of a new MacBook Air have floated around for as long as the announcement of WWDC 22 itself. And, excited fans even took to Twitter to point out that the Apple store was taken offline in the hours leading up to the event. This, they claimed, harked back to 2017 when the same happened right before the launch of new MacBooks. Thankfully, Apple didn't disappoint, with the M2 set to feature in a new 14in MacBook Air, which will be available in July starting from $1,099. 

The new Air model features a 13.6in liquid retina display, with 8K video playback, 18 hours of battery life, a 'Magic Keyboard', a silent fanless design, a 1080p webcam, a MagSafe charger, and two USB-C ports, as well as an option to have up to 24GB of RAM. The new MacBook Pro will house a 13in retina display, up to 24GB RAM, 2TB storage, a Magic Keyboard, and a touchbar. The Pro will also be available from July with a price tag of $1,199.

macOS Ventura and iOS 16

The two new laptops will ship with the next generation of macOS, Ventura, which will come with a broad range of workflow features and various updates to apps like Mail and Safari. 

The first of the new features is Stage Manager, a control panel for open apps and windows. With this, users can organise what they have open down the side of their screen, with all open windows visible and the current tab in a larger form in the centre of the screen. What's more, users can also group windows together for projects that require different apps.

'Continuity Camera' is another new addition, offering the ability to use an iPhone as an external webcam for a MacBooks. Ventura will have the ability to automatically recognise and use an iPhone when nearby so there's no need to wake or select it, according to Apple. Here, users can tap into the greater photography powers of the handset, such as the ultra-wide lens, and enable 'desk view' which allows for the simultaneous view of both the user and their desk. 

The iPhone also received an update with iOS 16 unveiled at WWDC 22. Here, Apple seems to have taken its lead from Android with Material You-style personalisation features. These were dubbed the "biggest update ever to the lock screen" and it appears to be a bit like the Android function, but with a little more direct customisation, where users can open an 'edit window' on their screen and tweak photos, fonts, and widgets.

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Notifications will also "roll in" from the bottom of the screen on iOS 16, rather than appearing in a list that takes up the whole screen. And, a 'Live Activities' feature will also allow for compact and "glanceable" notification of events, such as a sports game, to appear at the bottom of the screen, with up-to-date scores and live text of action.

Elsewhere in iOS 16, there's a shared cloud library for users to collaborate on photos - that's capture, share and collaborate in real-time - three new messaging features that let users edit messages they've already sent, recall them and even a function to unread messages. What's more, there's on-device dictation that lets users switch between voice and touch typing, with automatic punctuation.

Perhaps the most unusual feature announced - unusual because it seems more like banking than tech - was 'Apple Pay Later' which will allow users to purchase items through the Apple Wallet but pay for them in four instalments, like Klarna. 

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