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Apple unveils a new MacBook Air, the first Mac with Apple’s new M1 processor

Updated Nov 10th, 2020 1:56PM EST
MacBook Air ARM
Image: Apple

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During Apple’s WWDC keynote, Tim Cook announced that Apple would officially be transitioning away from Intel processors. Instead, Cook said that future Macs will boast ARM-based designs. Hardly a surprise, Apple has been using in-house designed chips on the iPhone for nearly 10-years now. And seeing as how Apple’s line of A-x chips routinely trounce what Android brings to the table, both in terms of power and energy efficiency, there’s a lot of anticipation regarding what an Apple-designed processor will look like on a full-fledged machine.

Well, with Apple holding a special Mac-themed media event today, the wait is finally over. Just a few moments ago, Apple unveiled its M1 processor, the company’s first SoC for the Mac designed for improved efficiency and breathtaking performance. Following that, Apple unveiled the first new Mac with an M1 processor, a brand new MacBook Air.

The new 13.3-inch MacBook Air delivers 5x faster graphics performance than its predecessor, the biggest leap we’ve seen on the MacBook Air line to date. Apple boasts that the new MacBook Air is faster than 98% of PC laptops sold in the last  year. The new machine also features a more vibrant Retina Display.

The new MacBook Air delivers all of this improved performance without a fan, providing users with a completely silent user experience.

Apple notes:

The powerful 8-core CPU performs up to 3.5x faster than the previous generation. With up to an 8-core GPU, graphics are up to 5x faster, the biggest leap ever for MacBook Air, so immersive, graphics-intensive games run at significantly higher frame rates. ML workloads are up to 9x faster, so apps that use ML-based features like face recognition or object detection can do so in a fraction of the time. The M1 chip’s storage controller and latest flash technology deliver up to 2x faster SSD performance, so previewing massive images or importing large files is faster than ever. And in MacBook Air, M1 is faster than the chips in 98 percent of PC laptops sold in the past year.1

The MacBook Air really shines when it comes to battery life. The machine supports 15 hours of web browsing and 18 hours of video playback. All told, the new MacBook Air boasts 6 more hours of battery life, which is to say the svelte machine now has battery life in the range of 18 hours. That’s a 50% increase which is remarkable, to say the least.

Image source: Apple

The following, courtesy of Apple, highlights just how fast the new MacBook Air really screams when compared to the previous generation:

  • Export a project for the web with iMovie up to 3x faster.
  • Integrate 3D effects into video in Final Cut Pro up to 5x faster.
  • For the first time, play back and edit multiple streams of full-quality, 4K ProRes video in Final Cut Pro without dropping a frame.
  • Export photos from Lightroom up to twice as fast.
  • Use ML-based features like Smart Conform in Final Cut Pro to intelligently frame a clip up to 4.3x faster.
  • Watch more movies and TV shows with up to 18 hours of battery life, the longest ever on MacBook Air.
  • Extend FaceTime and other video calls for up to twice as long on a single charge.

The brand new MacBook Air starts at $999 which means that prospective buyers can now get a lot more bang for their buck. The new Air can be ordered today from Apple’s website and orders will start shipping next week.

Yoni Heisler Contributing Writer

Yoni Heisler has been writing about Apple and the tech industry at large with over 15 years of experience. A life long expert Mac user and Apple expert, his writing has appeared in Edible Apple, Network World, MacLife, Macworld UK, and TUAW.

When not analyzing the latest happenings with Apple, Yoni enjoys catching Improv shows in Chicago, playing soccer, and cultivating new TV show addictions.