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October 19, 2021

Apple showed off its second batch of new products ahead of the all-important holiday shopping season. At a virtual event on Monday, the company showed off two high-end MacBook Pro laptops powered by its next-generation silicon chip. It also unveiled AirPods 3, its entry-level wireless earbuds that borrow a few features from its higher-end AirPods Pro line.

Apple (AAPL)'s event came amid ongoing concerns about global component shortages and logistics issues across the tech industry. Still, Google will unveil its Pixel 6 smartphone on Tuesday, and Samsung is hosting a mysterious press event the following day.

MacBook Pro
Apple announced new MacBook Pro laptops that use its new in-house M1 Pro and M1 Max processors, which promise to be 70% faster and more efficient than its previous M1 chip.

The Pro comes in two sizes -- 16 inches and, for the first time, a 14-inch model -- and features thinner bezels and improved displays, with a higher refresh rate. Other improvements include longer-lasting batteries and an advanced front-facing camera that can take 1080p video.
Apple introduced an update to its entry-level AirPods that offers features of the AirPods Pro line. AirPods 3 comes with spatial audio, better sound quality -- providing a more powerful bass and crisp high frequency -- and is sweat and water-resistant for workouts. It also comes with a new contour design and adaptive EQ, a feature previously found only on AirPods Pro. The wireless earbuds customize the sound in real-time by adjusting frequencies based on what your ear is hearing.

The latest model touts improved battery performance, promising up to 6 hours of battery life, and 5 minutes of charge time will get an hour of use. Apple is also adding MagSafe and wireless charging to the case. AirPods 3, which are available for pre-order starting today, cost $179, while AirPods 2 are now $129. AirPods Pro will remain at $249 and its over-the-ear headphones, AirPods Max, cost $549.

A few surprises
The company is adding a splash of color to its HomePod mini line. In addition to black and white, HomePod mini will soon be available in orange, yellow and dark blue for $99 each, starting in November. Meanwhile, Apple Music is getting a voice plan with Siri integration. For about $5 each month, subscribers can ask Siri to pull up playlists, songs, and radio stations. The voice-only option is cheaper than its existing plan $9.99/month and the Family Plan at $14.99/month.

macOS Monterrey launch date
Although Apple previously teased new features coming to macOS Monterey back in June, it never formally revealed a launch date until now. The latest Mac software, which includes updates to FaceTime, support for AirPlay, a low-power mode, and a tab-grouping feature in Safari, will be available for download starting October 25.