Apple Announcements Recap: New MacBook Pro, Mac Mini, HomePod, and More
Apple made some rare January product announcements this week, introducing updated 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro models, an updated Mac mini, a second-generation full-size HomePod, and a new Unity band for the Apple Watch in celebration of Black History Month. Apple also revealed that iOS 16.3 will be released to the public next week.
A recap of Apple's announcements is available below for those looking for a quick overview of all the new products introduced this week.
The new 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro models are available with Apple's latest M2 Pro and M2 Max chips for up to 20% faster performance and up to 30% faster graphics. The laptops can be configured with up to 96GB of RAM, compared to a max of 64GB previously. Other new features and improvements include Wi-Fi 6E, an upgraded HDMI 2.1 port with support for an 8K external display, and an extra hour of battery life.
The new MacBook Pros have the same design as the previous-generation models released in 2021. The laptops can be pre-ordered now on Apple's online store, with the first deliveries to customers and in-store availability to begin Tuesday, January 24. Pricing starts at $1,999 for the 14-inch model and at $2,499 for the 16-inch model.
Apple also updated the Mac mini with new M2 and M2 Pro chip options, resulting in the final Intel-based Mac mini being discontinued. There are no design changes, but the M2 Pro version of the Mac mini is equipped with four Thunderbolt 4 ports and an HDMI 2.1 port, compared to two Thunderbolt 4 ports and an HDMI 2.0 port on the M2 model.
The new Mac mini can be pre-ordered now on Apple's online store, with the M2 model starting at a lower $599 price and the M2 Pro model starting at $1,299. The first deliveries to customers and in-store availability will begin Tuesday, January 24.
The second-generation HomePod features a virtually identical design as the full-size HomePod that was discontinued in March 2021, including a backlit touch surface and mesh fabric exterior. The speaker features a four-inch high-excursion woofer, five tweeters, four microphones, an S7 chip for computational audio, a U1 chip for handing off music from an iPhone, and support for Spatial Audio with Dolby Atmos. The speaker continues to revolve around Siri and has Matter support for controlling HomeKit and other smart home accessories.
The new HomePod has two fewer tweeters and two fewer microphones compared to the original model, and it weighs slightly less as a result. A new sensor in the HomePod can measure temperature and humidity in indoor environments, and this feature has also been enabled on the existing HomePod mini with HomePod software version 16.3.
The new HomePod can be pre-ordered now on Apple's online store for $299, with white and midnight color options available. In-store availability and deliveries to customers will begin Friday, February 3 in the United States, Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Spain, the United Kingdom, and 11 other countries.
Apple this week released a new, special-edition Black Unity Sport Loop for the Apple Watch Series 4 and later in celebration of Black History Month. Available in 41mm and 45mm sizes for $49, the band features the word "Unity" woven into the fabric with red, green, and black yarns that pay homage to the Pan-African flag, according to Apple.
The new band is available to order on Apple's online store, and will be available in select Apple Store locations beginning January 24. Apple is also releasing a companion Unity-themed iPhone wallpaper and watch face with iOS 16.3 and watchOS 9.3.
iOS 16.3 Release Timing
In its press release about the new Unity band, Apple said a matching Unity wallpaper for the iPhone will be available next week and requires iOS 16.3, which confirms that the software update will be released to the public next week.
iOS 16.3 includes a few new features, including an option to use a physical security key as a two-factor authentication option for an Apple ID account, global availability of Advanced Data Protection for wider iCloud encryption, and support for the new second-generation HomePod. The update also includes multiple bug fixes.