Apple’s Unleashed event: New AirPods, cheaper music and MacBook Pros get top requested features back

Technology

Apple held a virtual event called “Unleashed” where they talked music and MacBook Pro computers.

Here’s a look at what they announced.

Follow Rich DeMuro on Instagram for more tech news, tips and tricks.

Credit: Apple

$5 Apple Music Plan

For starters, they have a new “voice only” Apple Music plan that could save you 50% each month versus a standard subscription. But there is one little catch: you can only use your voice and Siri to call up the music you want to play.

This could be specific artists or songs (you have access to the full catalog) but Apple has also created many new activity-based playlists, like music for hiking or a dinner party.

The plan launches later this Fall.

HomePod Mini in color

Remember the HomePod Mini? It’s quietly been the most popular smart speaker this year. Now, it comes in three new colors: orange, yellow and blue. Why these three colors? Who knows? But they look good and in my previous review, I found that the HomePod Mini sounds great for its small size.

The HomePod Mini can also be grouped with other HomePods around the house for the same audio everywhere, plus you can use it as an output for recent Apple TV’s. Price stays the same at $99, the new colors are available starting in November.

Check out Highlights of Apple Unleashed on my Instagram Stories

3rd Gen AirPods

The new AirPods look a lot like the more pricey AirPods Pro and even steal a few of their notable features.

AirPods now have spatial audio with Dolby Atmos and dynamic head tracking. This means your audio will sound better than ever and when you move your head it will sound as if the music is still coming from wherever your player or screen is located. It’s a neat feature that you have to experience to understand.

The new AirPods also have sweat and water resistance, just the Pods themselves but also the case. So, if you drop it in some water or if it’s raining outside you shouldn’t be entirely out of luck.

The AirPods also have a force sensor on the small stems so you can control your music and calls in new ways.

You really don’t even have to worry about battery life at this point. You get 6 hours of listening time with just the buds and 30 hours with the case (it will charge them 4 more times). Plus, a 5-minute charge will give you an hour worth of use, perfect for when you want to go on a run and you forgot to charge your AirPods (although for the record I rarely charge mine and I run a lot and this has yet to happen to me).

Wireless charging is built into the case, you can place it on a standard Qi enabled wireless charger or use the same MagSafe chargers that work with the iPhone.

The new AirPods are $179, they launch October 26. The previous gen models get a $50 price cut to $129, so expect retailers to further chop the price around the holidays.

Credit: Apple

New MacBook Pros

Apple really listened to customers this time around when it comes to the MacBook Pro Revamp.

They didn’t like the TouchBar, and it’s gone.

They wanted HDMI, an SD Card slot and MagSafe, and it’s all back.

They wanted a higher quality webcam for Zooming, and it’s indeed upgraded.

They wanted a notch… and it’s there. Well, OK, they didn’t totally listen, but professionals who use the MacBook Pro for work will really love the fact that these machines are ready to tear into heavy duty photo and video editing jobs, animation and more.

These MacBook Pros are now powered by even better versions of Apple proprietary processor chips (RIP, Intel), the M1 Pro and M1 Max. I haven’t tested but based on the little charts Apple was showing at the event, get ready for some serious improvements in speed and battery life.

The 14-inch model starts at $2000 and the 16-inch model starts at $2500. Keep in mind, educators can get these for $1849 and $2300 if you as for the special pricing, so be sure to take advantage if you can.

One More Thing

If you already have a Mac computer you’re happy with, the latest software called macOS Monterey will launch as a free update on October 25.

Listen to the Rich on Tech podcast for answers to your tech questions.

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