What to Expect at November's Apple Event: Macs With Arm-Based Apple Silicon Chips
Apple's third fall 2020 event, "One more thing," will be held on Tuesday, November 10. Apple held events in September and October to introduce new iPads, Apple Watches, iPhones, and the HomePod mini, and this November event is expected to be all about the Mac.
The first Macs with an Apple Silicon Arm-based chip will be introduced at the Apple event, and while we're just counting on Macs this time around, it's possible there will be an extra surprise or two. We've rounded up everything we know about the November event below so you know what to expect on Tuesday.
Apple Silicon Macs
Rumors about Apple's planned transition to Arm-based Macs have circulated for years now, and in June at the Worldwide Developer's Conference, Apple made it official. Future Macs will adopt Apple Silicon chips, with Apple doing away with the Intel chips in current Macs.
Apple is designing its own Apple Silicon chips, which are similar to the A-series chips used in iPhones and iPads. The first Apple Silicon chips will be built on the 5-nanometer A14 chips that were introduced in the iPhone, with TSMC to manufacture the chips.
According to Apple, Apple Silicon chips will bring a new level of performance with Macs that are more powerful and more energy efficient for improved battery life. Apple's goal is to deliver the highest possible performance with the lowest power consumption.
Apple's custom chips will provide best-in-class security with the Secure Enclave, and Apple is also designing its own GPUs for better performance with pro apps and games. Apple plans to include Neural Engines and Machine Learning Accelerators to make Macs ideal platforms for machine learning, with Apple also including a high-quality image signal processor, high-performance DRAM, unified memory, and cryptography acceleration.
Apple Silicon Macs will allow for deeper integration between hardware and software, and cross-platform apps that will work on Macs, iPhones, and iPads are coming alongside the shift to the new chip technology. Apple Silicon Macs will be able to run iPhone and iPad apps natively.
Over the course of the next two years, Apple plans to transition its entire Mac lineup to Apple Silicon chips. Rumors suggest the first Macs that will be updated with the new technology will be the 13-inch MacBook Air and the 13-inch MacBook Pro.
Reliable sources that include Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo and Bloomberg have targeted these two models as the first to transition, and we are expecting to see refreshed 13-inch MacBook Pro and MacBook Air models at the November event.
Bloomberg has also said that Apple has a 16-inch MacBook in the works that could make an appearance, but production is not as far along on that machine and it's not guaranteed. None of the new Apple Silicon Macs coming this year are expected to feature a redesign, with Apple continuing to use existing designs.
In 2021, we are expecting redesigned 14.1-inch and 16.1-inch MacBook Pro models with a new look and mini-LED display technology, but the first Apple Silicon Macs will be more modest processor-focused updates. Apple is also working on a new smaller Mac Pro, a Mac mini, and a 24-inch iMac, all of which will adopt Apple Silicon in the future.
Apple hasn't changed its chip technology since swapping from PowerPC to Intel back in 2006, so the shift to Apple Silicon is major news that's going to shape the future of the Mac for years to come. We may only be getting a few Macs with Apple Silicon at the event, but it will give us an idea of what we can expect from the Mac in terms of performance and battery life going forward.
We've been waiting for Apple's long-rumored Tile competitor AirTags for months now, originally expecting the Bluetooth trackers to come out at the September or October event. An unveiling at a Mac-centric event is possible but unlikely, and there's a good chance we won't be seeing AirTags until next year.
For those unfamiliar with AirTags, they're small trackers that are equipped with Bluetooth and are designed to attach to important but easily lost items like wallets, cameras, and keys. AirTags (and the items they're attached to) can be tracked right inside the Find My app alongside iPhones, iPads, and Macs, so you can keep an eye on all of your important belongings in one place.
AirTags details have been leaking since the release of iOS 13, but we're still not sure what the AirTags will look like. Based on some simple images found in iOS, they could be small, circular tags with built-in Bluetooth and ultra-wideband support. Ultra-wideband, a feature first introduced in the iPhone 11 lineup, is key because iPhones that have a U1 chip will be able to track AirTags with much more accuracy than Bluetooth alone.
If your keys fall down the couch cushion or your wallet gets kicked under the bed, for example, the iPhone will be able to locate the exact part of the room where they're located. This kind of functionality will make AirTags more accurate and more useful than other Bluetooth trackers on the market.
AirTags might attach to items with rings or adhesive, and the bottle cap-sized trackers are rumored to come with a keychain that has a leather pouch on it, which may be one of the attachment methods.
There have been mixed rumors on charging methods. One rumor has pointed towards a built-in rechargeable battery that works with an Apple Watch-style charging puck, while another suggests the AirTags will run on a replaceable CR2032 battery. Either way, it sounds like they'll last for a good amount of time rather than featuring a non-replaceable battery.
Anything that you lose will show up on the Find My map with an associated address, and when the iPhone is close to a lost item, you might see an augmented reality map with specific positioning that makes it easier to find the missing item. AirTags will also be able to play a sound when triggered in the Find My app.
With iOS 13, Apple introduced a feature that's designed to let Apple products communicate with one another when offline, letting a lost iPhone ping off of someone else's iPhone it comes into contact with even without a cellular or WiFi connection. This function will likely come to AirTags as well, letting millions of iPhones and Apple devices all around the world track lost items.
For more on what to expect from AirTags, check out our AirTags guide.
Apple is adding to its AirPods lineup with high-end over-ear headphones that could be called the "AirPods Studio," which will join the AirPods and the AirPods Pro, and there's a slim chance that the AirPods Studio could see a mention during the November event after missing the September and October events.
It's quite possible that AirPods Studio are another product that Apple is holding until next year, so while we can hope to see the new headphones, it's not guaranteed.
The AirPods Studio will have superior sound quality and Active Noise Cancellation to minimize ambient noise. Other features include equalizer adjustment options available through an iOS device or a Mac, and head and neck detection, which would presumably work like the ear detection in the AirPods but would be able to tell if the headphones are on the head or pulled down onto the neck, pausing content.
An orientation feature may let the AirPods Studio detect the left and right ears for routing audio channels, and there will be no right or wrong side for wearing the headphones.
According to Bloomberg, Apple is working on two designs for the AirPods Studio. One is a higher-end premium model made from high quality materials like leather, while another is more fitness focused and made from breathable, lighter weight materials.
Alleged leaked images of the AirPods Studio show headphones with long oblong ear cups and gray fabric padding at the top of the headband, with the headphones sporting a retro-style look.
Both versions of the AirPods Studio are expected to include magnetic ear cups and headband padding that can be swapped out for a customizable look, similar to Apple Watch bands. There's no solid word on what the AirPods Studio will cost, but rumors have suggested Apple may sell them for around $349.
For more info on the AirPods Studio, check out our AirPods Studio roundup.
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