On Monday, June 5, 2023, Apple's annual Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) showcased a slate of brand-new hardware including a 15" MacBook Air, a Mac Studio with M2 Max, and the latest Apple silicon called M2 Ultra, which finds its way to both Mac Studio and Mac Pro. The remainder of the event focused on the latest features heading to iOS 17, iPadOS, and macOS, such as a mental health-focused daily journaling tool for the iPhone alongside several other quality-of-life-based updates.
Apple's "one more thing" at the 2023 WWDC keynote was a big one. Apple unveiled the Vision Pro Headset, its highly anticipated entry into the AR/VR space. The Vision Pro is designed to be an AR headset, combined with consumer and pro VR functionality. You view through it, rather than at it, blending digital elements with your physical world. With the Vision Pro, your physical space becomes your canvas as you open apps, documents, video chat windows, and more, while moving and scaling them to different sizes as you wish. Thanks to dual micro-OLED displays, what you see is in true 4K HDR resolution with sharp and readable text. Since AR allows you to still see your space, you can easily interact with people and your surroundings while naturally manipulating digital objects.
Interacting with the digital world is made to feel organic—there are no clumsy controllers to hold. You simply use hand gestures, your voice, and your eyesight. Internal eye-tracking highlights objects as you look at them. Tap your fingers to make selections, dictate text into documents and search bars, and use Siri to open apps. When you want more immersion, use the integrated dial to transition from AR to VR, replacing your real world with a digital environment. But even in VR, you're still connected to the real world. Using EyeSight, cameras in the Vision Pro display your eyes on the outside of the headset for others to see. Your eyes will take on different looks to let everyone know when you can see them and when you're fully within VR. People will also be able to enter your virtual world as they approach you in real life.
When in VR, you can do more than work. Apple designed the Vision Pro to also be a high-end entertainment device. You can intimately explore nature and the cosmos, watch movies and shows on theater-sized screens, or immerse yourself in another world with VR gaming. To that end, the Vision Pro supports Unity-based gaming titles and will offer access to Disney+ at launch. Running Apple's new visionOS, you also get access to a visionOS store that's packed with hundreds of apps to choose from. As an Apple product, the Vision Pro goes to great lengths to ensure your privacy and safety. OpticID uses your eyes as an optic fingerprint to unlock the headset, and your surroundings and eye-tracking data are not accessible to any app. With its release set for early next year, the Apple Vision Pro will soon let you do all the things you love in ways you never thought were possible.
This WWDC marked the addition of a 15-inch version of the MacBook Air, which claims the title of lightest MacBook in the Apple family. The new Air features the redesigned, fanless clamshell design from the 13-inch and is powered by Apple's M2 chip. According to Apple, the new Air is 12x faster than its fastest Intel-based Air and twice as fast as a comparable Core i7-powered PC. Meanwhile, 18 hours of battery life power its 15.3-inch Liquid Retina display and new six-speaker sound system.
Compared to the 16" MacBook Pro, the Air is essentially what you would expect: it's slightly thinner and lighter, features a somewhat dimmer screen, and lacks Apple's 120Hz ProMotion display. The Pro is also more power efficient, maintaining its 18-hour battery life better than the Air, despite the bigger screen. However, the MacBook Air has always been a fantastic, everyday general-purpose computer that can handle most tasks you throw at it with ease. And while you should probably consider a Pro model if you plan on doing any sustained work or larger projects, the Air excels at being light yet powerful enough to tackle most workloads, thanks to Apple's in-house M2 processor.
The 15" Air comes in four finishes: Midnight, Starlight, Space Gray, and Silver. It measures 11.5mm and clocks in at around 3 pounds. It is also equipped with MagSafe charging, two Thunderbolt™ ports, and a headphone jack. If you need expanded connectivity, it might be worth considering a dock. The base Air comes with an 8-core CPU and 10-core M2 chip, 8GB of memory, and a 256GB SSD that can be configured with up to 24GB of memory and up to a 2TB SSD. Pricing starts at $1,299 and Apple also announced that the 13" Air would be getting a $100 price drop.
The brand also debuted the M2 Ultra, a new chip that Apple claims generally doubles the performance of the M2 Max. It packs a unified memory architecture that supports 192GB of memory capacity and features 800GB/s of memory bandwidth, which is amazing news for high-res video editing. The M2 Ultra boasts improvements across the board, with a CPU that is 20 percent faster than the M1 Ultra, a GPU that is 30 percent faster, and a 32-core Neural Engine that’s 40 percent faster, allowing it to deliver up to 31.6 trillion operations per second.
The new chip features two M2 Max dies connected through UltraFusion packaging architecture that allows it to appear as a single chip on the software side. It’s power efficient, too; Apple emphasizes that when it comes to power management, the M2 Ultra allows devices to run cool and quietly despite being a “monster of a chip.” According to Apple, the new chip will enable massive machine learning workloads that most GPUs can’t even process.
The Mac is receiving a few noteworthy internal upgrades as well. Apple is outfitting the Mac Studio with the M2 Max alongside the newly announced M2 Ultra chip. Mac Studio users can expect performance to be about 25 percent faster than the M1 Max, resulting in a 50-percent-faster After Effects render time, for example. As for the Ultra, power users will benefit from its video processing enhancements. It has dedicated, hardware-enabled H.264, HEVC, and ProRes encode and decode, allowing playback of up to 22 streams of 8K ProRes 422 video.
In terms of ports, there are four Thunderbolt™ 4 ports on the back of the Mac Studio, a 10Gb Ethernet port, two USB-A ports, an HDMI port, and a 3.5mm headphone jack. In front, the M2 Max Mac Studio has two additional USB-C ports and an SDXC card slot, while the M2 Ultra version swaps the USB-C ports for Thunderbolt™ 4 instead and keeps the same card slot.
Pricing for the M2 Max-equipped Mac Studio starts at $1,999 while the M2 Ultra version starts much higher at $4,199. The base Max version of the Studio comes with the 12-core CPU and 30-core GPU chip, 32GB of memory, and a 512GB SSD that be configured with up to a 12 core/38-core chip, 64GB of memory, and up to an 8TB SSD. As for the M2 Ultra version, the base model comes with a 24-core/60-core chipset, 32GB of memory, and a 1TB SSD, which is all configurable with up to a 24-core/76-core version, 192GB of RAM, and the same 8TB SSD.
Apple also noted during its presentation that, when equipped with the M2 Ultra, the Mac Studio can support up to six Pro Display XDRs.
M2 Ultra is also coming to the Mac Pro for users who need high performance alongside PCIe expansion. It retains its iconic "cheese grater" design that was first revealed back in 2019. As for the I/O, the Mac Pro now has eight Thunderbolt™ 4 ports (six on the back, two on the top, and two on the front), two higher-bandwidth HDMI ports that support up to an 8K display at 240Hz, dual 10 Gigabit Ethernet ports, and a headphone jack.
The Mac Pro features seven PCle expansion slots, with six open expansion slots that support gen 4, which is 2x faster than before. It's perfect for audio pros who need digital signal processing (DSP) cards, video pros who need serial digital interface (SDI) I/O cards to connect to professional cameras and monitors, and even users who just need additional networking capabilities or increased storage. The Mac Pro also works well with high-end capture cards like the Blackmagic Design Decklink 8K Pro. Additionally, Apple added SSD 2TB, 4TB, and 8TB upgrade kits that can replace the existing internal SSD storage of the Mac Pro.
Pricing for the Mac Pro starts at $6,999. It can be configured with or without wheels or in a rackmount design. The base version comes with an M2 Ultra chip with a 60-core GPU, 64GB of memory and a 1TB SSD that can all be configured with up to a 76-core GPU, 192GB of memory, and up to an 8TB SSD.
These updates mean that every Mac in Apple's lineup is now powered by its in-house silicon. Expect the newly announced Air and updated Macs to be available to preorder on B&H. Apple expects to ship these out starting next week.
What are your thoughts on today's Keynote? Let us know in the Comments section, below. Be on the lookout for more in-depth coverage once we're able to spend more hands-on time with the products announced today. For more information, click through to the product pages for the 15" MacBook Air, the Mac Studio, and the Mac Pro.