Everything Apple Announced, November 2020: M1 Chip, MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, Mac Mini

Of course, mobile creative professionals get a taste of the new silicon as well. A new 13-inch MacBook Pro powered by an M1 processor (and with a Touch Bar) goes on sale today for $1,299. That’s the same price as the Intel-powered Pro the new machine is replacing. The same claims about speed and power efficiency improvements Apple made for the other machines also apply to the new Pro laptop. The new MacBook Pro with the M1 chip is faster in CPU and GPU performance, and it has a massive bump in battery life—up to 20 hours, Apple claims. The computer comes with two Thunderbolt/USB 4 ports.

Like the Air and Mini, the new MacBook Pro begins shipping next week. The 16-inch MacBook Pro hasn’t gotten the M1 update yet, so the new chip is only available in the more compact machine.

macOS 11 Big Sur

Photograph: Apple

The next desktop operating system for Macs has been in beta for months, and now Apple has given it a firm release date. Big Sur will be available this Thursday, November 12 as a free download.

The OS was built with the new M1 chips in mind. Apple says that its silicon makes system software twice as responsive as before, while also giving big boosts to programs like Final Cut Pro and Logic Pro. However, it’s important to note that Big Sur will run on Intel-powered machines as well as M1-powered machines, so it’s not necessary to buy a new Mac to get the latest software improvements.

The most noticeable change of Big Sur is its overhauled design. App icons are rounded, like in iOS. Menu bars are transparent, so that you can see the background behind them. Altogether, Big Sur’s new design signals a unification of Apple’s three operating systems: macOS, iOS, and iPadOS. The goal is to streamline the process for users and app developers alike. Desktop apps will be able to work on mobile and vice-versa, making switching between devices a (hopefully) seamless experience. To that end, Apple also unveiled “universal apps,” which were built to work with Apple Silicon and Intel processors simultaneously. These apps should be backwards-compatible with MacBooks from 2105 or newer.

As usual, Apple’s focus on privacy is on display in Big Sur as well. The company touted several of these features earlier this year when it announced the OS at its summertime Worldwide Developer Conference. Overall, users gain more control of the information collected by third-party apps and websites. For example, Big Sur’s new “Privacy Report” actively tracks the ad trackers that pop up in Safari and keeps a log to inform the user of just how many times websites try to collect their data.

We’ll have more about the move to Apple Silicon and a deeper dive into macOS this week. We’ll also publish reviews of the new M1-powered Macs as soon as we get the opportunity to test them.

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