Apple made some rare January product announcements this week, introducing updated 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro models, an updated Mac mini, a full-size second-generation HomePod, and a new Unity band for the Apple Watch in celebration of black. History month. Apple also revealed that iOS 16.3 will be released to the public next week.
A summary of Apple’s announcements is available below for those looking for a quick overview of all the new products introduced this week.
The new 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro models are available with Apple’s latest M2 Pro and M2 Max chipsets for up to 20% faster performance and up to 30% faster graphics. The laptops can be configured with up to 96GB of RAM, up from a maximum of 64GB previously. Other new features and improvements include Wi-Fi 6E, an upgraded HDMI 2.1 port with 8K external display support, and an additional hour of battery life.
The new MacBook Pro has the same design as previous-generation models released in 2021. The laptops can be pre-ordered now in the online Apple Store, with the first customer deliveries and in-store availability starting Tuesday, January 24. Pricing starts at $1,999 for the 14-inch model and $2,499 for the 16-inch model.
Apple also updated the Mac mini with new M2 and M2 Pro chip options, discontinuing the final Intel-based Mac mini. There are no design changes, but the M2 Pro version of the Mac mini is equipped with four Thunderbolt 4 ports and an HDMI 2.1 port, compared to the two Thunderbolt 4 ports and an HDMI 2.0 port on the M2 model.
The new Mac mini can now be pre-ordered from Apple’s online store, with the M2 model starting at an even lower $599 and the M2 Pro model starting at $1,299. The first customer deliveries and in-store availability will start on Tuesday, January 24th.
The second-generation HomePod features a nearly identical design as the full-size HomePod that was discontinued in March 2021, including a backlit touch surface and a mesh exterior. The soundbar features a 4-inch tweeter, five tweeters, four microphones, S7 chip for computational audio, U1 chip for iPhone music delivery, and Spatial Audio support with Dolby Atmos. The speaker continues to revolve around Siri and has Matter support for controlling HomeKit and other smart home accessories.
The new HomePod has two tweeters and fewer microphones compared to the original model, and as a result it weighs a bit less. A new sensor in the HomePod can measure temperature and humidity in indoor environments, and this feature was also enabled on the current HomePod mini with HomePod software release 16.3.
The new HomePod can now be pre-ordered from the Apple Store online for $299, with White and Midnight color options available. In-store availability and delivery to customers will begin Friday, February 3, in the United States, Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Spain, the United Kingdom, and 11 other countries.
This week, Apple released a special edition Black Unity Sport Loop for Apple Watch Series 4 and later in celebration of Black History Month. Available in 41mm and 45mm sizes and priced at $49, the bracelet features the word “Unity” woven into the fabric with red, green and black threads in honor of the flag of Africa, according to Apple.
The new band is available to order from the Apple Store online, and will be available at select Apple Store locations starting January 24th. Apple will also release a companion Unity-themed iPhone wallpaper and watch face with iOS 16.3 and watchOS 9.3.
iOS 16.3 release date
In its press release about the new Unity band, Apple said that the corresponding Unity wallpaper for the iPhone will be available next week and requires iOS 16.3, confirming that the software update will be released to the public next week.
iOS 16.3 includes some new features, including the option to use a physical security key as a two-factor authentication option for the Apple ID account, the global availability of Advanced Data Protection for broader iCloud encryption, and support for the new second-generation HomePod. The update also includes multiple bug fixes.