Apple Unveils M2 MacBook Air & Pro at WWDC 2022


This Monday, Apple kicked off the week with its annual Worldwide Developers Conference. Although WWDC is primarily focused on the latest OS updates for Apple's family of devices, the big reveal during the event was the introduction of the next generation of Apple silicon designed specifically for Macs: the M2 chip. The majority of the event focused on the latest features being brought to iOS 16, watchOS9, macOS Ventura, and iPadOS 16, but Apple also announced an all-new redesigned MacBook Air and an update to the 13-inch MacBook Pro, both powered by the M2 chip.

M2 - New chip. Next chapter.
M2 - New chip. Next chapter.

Breaking Down the M2 Chip

Like the original M1 silicon, the new M2 chip promises to deliver dramatically improved performance and power efficiency, thanks to its use of second-generation 5-nanometer technology. Exactly how powerful is this new chip? According to Apple, M2's CPU is 18 percent faster compared to M1 and features 24GB of unified memory.

M2 chip: Up to 24GB unified memory and 100GB/s memory bandwidth
M2 chip: Up to 24GB unified memory and 100GB/s memory bandwidth

Apple has scaled up the number of transistors on the chip by 25%, which helps improve features across the board and delivers 100GB/s of unified memory bandwidth. With the new performance gains, M2 is even more of a powerhouse when it comes to chewing through CPU-intensive tasks.

M2 CPU Performance vs. Power - 1.9x faster performance and 75% less power consumption
M2 CPU Performance vs. Power - 1.9x faster performance and 75% less power consumption

The M2 also features Apple's best GPU to date. According to Apple's metrics, the new GPU not only delivers a 25% performance boost, that number is boosted to 35% at maximum power. A particular emphasis was made to show that the new M2 chip is exceptional when it comes to power management and allowing devices to run cool and quietly.

M2 GPU Performance vs. Power - 2.3x faster performance and 80% less power consumption
M2 GPU Performance vs. Power - 2.3x faster performance and 80% less power consumption

Apple is finally making a push to show off the gaming capabilities of its devices, thanks to the new Metal 3 API, allowing Macs to upscale more efficiently and intelligently. Working versions of No Man's Sky and Resident Evil: Village were shown off to demonstrate the capabilities of M2 combined with the Metal 3 API.

Some other highlights about the M2 courtesy of Apple:

  • The Neural Engine can process up to 15.8 trillion operations per second—more than 40 percent more than M1.

  • The media engine includes a higher-bandwidth video decoder, supporting 8K H.264 and HEVC video.

  • Apple's powerful ProRes video engine enables playback of multiple streams of 4K and 8K video.

  • A new image signal processor (ISP) delivers better image noise reduction.

MacBook Air Redesigned for M2

WWDC also marks the first major hardware revision The MacBook Air has received in years. It features an all-new redesigned clamshell design, doing away with the tapered design for which the MacBook Air has come to be known. The flatter aluminum clamshell design houses a larger 13.6-inch notched Liquid Retina display, a 1080p FaceTime HD camera, and a four-speaker sound system. It measures 11.3mm thin and weighs about 2.7 pounds. The 2560 x 1664 display features 500 nits of brightness, making it the brightest MacBook Air to date, finally eliminating one of the long-standing cons of the Air and bringing it up to par with Apple's other devices.

MacBook Air with M2 chip

Of course, the biggest improvement is the inclusion of the M2 chip. Under the hood, an 8-Core CPU and 10-Core GPU are at the heart of the device. Like Apple's other recent MacBooks, the new Air also features a fanless design, so it's sure to run quietly.

8-core CPU, 10-core GPU, 16-core Neural Engine
8-core CPU, 10-core GPU, 16-core Neural Engine

One of the best things about the MacBook Air has always been its sizeable battery life, and with an estimated 18-hour battery life, the new version makes no compromises on that thanks to the improved power-efficiency features of M2. MagSafe also makes its triumphant return to the MacBook Air (Who doesn't love more proprietary chargers?) along with two Thunderbolt™ ports and a standard 3.5mm headphone jack. The new MacBook Air comes in four finishes, including the Apple Watch's "Midnight," bringing the color to the device for the first time.

MacBook Air with M2 chip

Updated 13-inch MacBook Pro

Alongside the redesigned MacBook Air, Apple has updated the 13-inch version of the MacBook Pro to also include the M2 chip. Like the Air, the Pro now features an 8-core CPU and improved 10-core GPU. Apple takes the time to highlight that working with RAW images in apps like Adobe Photoshop or Affinity Photo is nearly 40 percent faster than devices still running M1.

Apple MacBook Pro

The 13-inch Pro delivers an impressive 20-hour estimate for battery life, giving it a slight edge over the Air in that category. Other than the inclusion of M2, the 13-inch Pro seems in line with Apple's longstanding tradition of a half-step before a more significant overhaul. It still features a 720p FaceTime HD camera and the older wide-bezeled 13.3-inch Retina display, unlike its 16-inch and Air counterparts.

At this moment, there are no updates to the 14-inch and 16-inch versions of the Pro, but it certainly wouldn't be a surprise to see the new silicon make its way over to those down the road.

iOS and watch OS Quality of Life Improvements

On the software side of things, Apple's suite of operating systems receive some pretty substantial quality-of-life improvements across the board. Starting with iOS 16, users can now customize their lock screens with several different customizable design cues and even finally add widgets to them, as well. Users can also set up multiple lock screens that can be cycled through, much like the Apple Watch.

iOS 16

Other notable updates include the ability to edit and unsend messages via Messages, a revamped iCloud Shared Photo Library feature for families, and a brand-new Visual Look Up feature that allows users to tap and hold on the subject of an image to lift it from the background and place it in apps like Messages. Somewhat understated is the introduction of passkeys, designed to replace traditional passwords. Passkeys use your biometrics and are never stored on a web server, and stay on device so hackers can't steal them in a data breach or trick users into sharing them.

WatchOS9 delivers several health- and fitness-focused improvements, along with an all-new Medications app designed to help users track their medications, vitamins, and supplements.

watchOS 9

More Productivity for Mac and iPad Users

Apple seems to be really focusing on making Macs and iPads productivity powerhouses, with the updates it's bringing to MacOS Ventura and iPadOS 16. Features like Continuity Camera bring new video-conferencing capabilities to the Mac by allowing users to use their iPhone as a webcam and utilize the Ultra-Wide camera to show an overhead view of their desk.

macOS Ventura

Stage Manager automatically organizes open apps and windows so users can concentrate on their work and still see everything in a single glance. Windows can also be grouped together when working on specific tasks or projects that require different apps. This feature also makes its way over to iPad OS 16, as well, slowly but surely bridging that iPad-Mac gap. Apple is making it easier than ever to collaborate and manage shared content with multi-user invitations via Messages, and with tools like Freeform, that provide a blank canvas that several users can edit in real time and is fully compatible with Apple Pencil. Users can also now share Tab Groups with friends, family, and colleagues. For the creatives out there with the 12.9-inch iPad Pro with Liquid Retina XDR display, Reference Mode enables the display to match the color requirements in workflows like review and approve, color grading, and compositing, where accurate colors and consistent image quality are fundamental.

Everything announced at today's event will be available to preorder on B&H.

What are your thoughts regarding today's announcements? Let us know in the Comments section, below, and be sure to be on the lookout for more in-depth coverage once we're able to spend more hands-on time with today's announced devices!