Everything announced at the Apple event: AirPods 3, new MacBook Pro, HomePod Mini and more

Apple introduced a new version of its wireless earbuds with "spatial audio," a redesigned MacBook Pro and more on Monday. Here's what you missed.

Ian Sherr Contributor and Former Editor at Large / News
Ian Sherr (he/him/his) grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, so he's always had a connection to the tech world. As an editor at large at CNET, he wrote about Apple, Microsoft, VR, video games and internet troubles. Aside from writing, he tinkers with tech at home, is a longtime fencer -- the kind with swords -- and began woodworking during the pandemic.
Lori Grunin Senior Editor / Advice
I've been reviewing hardware and software, devising testing methodology and handed out buying advice for what seems like forever; I'm currently absorbed by computers and gaming hardware, but previously spent many years concentrating on cameras. I've also volunteered with a cat rescue for over 15 years doing adoptions, designing marketing materials, managing volunteers and, of course, photographing cats.
Expertise Photography | PCs and laptops | Gaming and gaming accessories
Ian Sherr
Lori Grunin
10 min read
Apple event live coverage

Apple redesigned its entry-level AirPods.

Apple/Screenshot by Sarah Tew/CNET

Apple wants to turn it up to 11 for its AirPods and MacBook Pro laptops. During its October product event Monday, Apple announced revamps for its third-generation AirPods, new M-series MacBook Pro laptops and a series of new colors for its HomePod Mini. The company also announced a price drop for Apple Music, offering a $5 per month "Voice" subscription designed to work with Siri.

Watch this: The biggest announcements from Apple's October 2021 event

AirPods 3

Apple redesigned its entry-level AirPods -- you can buy the new AirPods 3 today, complete with a free case engraving -- to be a kind of in-between of earlier AirPods (still available) and the AirPods Pro. Gone are the Q-Tip looking stems, which now have AirPods Pro-like shortness and sensor controls. The design for your ear has a "contour" that Apple said will fit many ears, and it has smarts that can change how audio sounds based on what it believes your ear is hearing.

The new AirPods offer six hours of listening time and up to 30 hours total after four recharges from their carrying case, which comes with wireless charging for $179 (£169, AU$279). 

Watch this: Apple introduces AirPods 3

MacBook Pro

MacBook Pros (how to preorder them now) got their biggest upgrade in years. Apple announced its next generation of computers Monday, new 14- and 16-inch MacBook Pros powered by its new M1 Pro and M1 Max chips, which Apple says are much faster and may go further to replace the "Pro" performance computers powered by Intel chips. Out is the Touch Bar, but returning are an HDMI port, an SD card slot and a MagSafe connector. The 14-inch MacBook Pro starts at $1,999 (£1,899, AU$2,999); the 16-inch model at $2,499 (£2,399, AU$3,749).

The new devices follow last year's M1-powered Macs, which were the first Apple lineup not powered by a chip made by Intel. Instead, Apple is using ones similar to the chips that power the iPhone, and so far has been getting positive reviews for them. 

Watch this: New MacBook Pro: MagSafe returns

HomePod Mini

Apple didn't change last year's popular $99 (£89, AU$149) HomePod Mini so much as it introduced colorful new design options. Much like it did with the redesigned M1 iMacs earlier this year, Apple introduced "bold" and "fun" colors to its lineup, offering a "pop of color and personality." Those new hues -- blue, yellow and orange -- join space gray and white.

Watch this: Apple unveils new colors for HomePod Mini

Apple Music 'Voice'

Apple is taking on Amazon's $4 per month single-device music plan by offering its own take, called Apple Music Voice. This service, which is $5 per month, is "designed exclusively for Siri." Think of it as Apple Music, but only on Siri. Apple also added "hundreds" of new "mood and activity playlists" to compete better with Amazon and Spotify.

Our liveblog archive follows.

And that's it.

Clocking in at 49 minutes, Apple's event wraps up. Nothing changes with the MacBook Air, Mac Pro or Mac Mini and the company didn't say when MacOS Monterey will be launched, though presumably it would happen when the new Macs land next week.

MacBook Pro has pro-like prices


The 14-inch MacBook Pro will be $1,999 and the 16-inch will be $2,499. They can be preordered today, and available next week, Apple said.

The company didn't say what's happening to the Intel laptops it used to sell, but this may be it for them. (We'll know more when Apple's website is updated after the event.)

Better battery life

Apple said the new MacBook Pro gets up to 21 hours of video playback with the 16-inch version and 17 hours with the 14-inch model. The new MagSafe 3 can also charge the laptop up to 50% in a half hour, Apple said.

Apple's new MacBook Pros have a notch in the display, improved 1080p webcams

So can this beat Intel?


Apple a bit of its presentation talking about how much faster its chips can be than its previous version Intel-based laptops. The M1 Max, for example, has 3.7x the performance of a Core i7 MacBook Pro, Apple, said, and graphics performance is up to 13x faster.

Apple said its built-in GPUs are also up to 4x faster than Radeon Pro 5600M from the previous generation MacBook Pro 16-inch.

Upgraded audio for the MacBook Pro

Apple said it upgraded the microphones and the speakers in its laptops. That allows for better recording, Apple said. It also has six speakers for audio, allowing for "spatial audio" which includes Dolby Atmos.

Apple upgrades MacBook Pro, bringing back MagSafe charging, HDMI and SD Cards


The company redesigned its MacBook Pro with popular features like MagSafe charging, SD card slot and an HDMI port. It comes in 16-inch and 14-inch models, and has more pronounced feet.

Apple got rid of the TouchBar, and instead took the popular keyboard from its Magic Keyboard design, and brought it to the laptop.

The computer supports Thunderbolt 4, Apple said. And they can charge the laptop if you'd prefer. Or you can use MagSafe 3, its newest charging standard, which supports more power throughput.

Meanwhile, Thunderbolt 4 can support 3 Pro Display XDR screens and an HDMI TV.

Apple pulls out all the stops for the MacBook Pro

Apple played with the bezel on its laptops, moving its menu bar up into where the bezel used to be in its MacBook Pro screens, with the FaceTime camera now taking up a spot in the middle of the menubar. 

The display is called a "Liquid Retina XDR" display, which has mini-LED lighting from the iPad Pro and like the iPhone 13, can move images as fast as 120hz or step down when there isn't much happening on the screen. (Apple calls this ProMotion.)

Apple said it has 1,000 nits of sustained brightness, allowing for deeper and more dramatic colors.

The FaceTime camera, meanwhile, has 2x better low-light performance, and offers better video quality with an upgraded 1080p webcam.

How MacOS and Apple's apps benefit from the M1 chips

Craig Federighi, Apple's head of software engineering, said the company's MacOS software is designed to take advantage of the technology in the M1. He noted that because the CPU and GPU share their memory, they're able to move data much more quickly than a typical computer, which has separated memory between the GPU and CPU.

To underscore this, he noted upgrades to the company's pro-apps, like Logic Pro, which can now edit spatial audio on a laptop. Other apps move much quicker as well, he said.

So far, developers have created 10,000 universal apps for Apple Silicon, Apple said.

M1 Max, more-powerful than M1 Pro

Apple built the M1 Max to have more GPU performance than the M1 or M1 Pro. It has 1.7x the number of transistors, and supports up to 64GB of "unified" memory. It also has a 32-core GPU.

Johny Srouji, SVP hardware technologies, said Apple's GPU delivers more performance than a discrete GPU, like those made by Nvidia or AMD, and with 70% less power consumption. 

Compared to the highest end GPU in a laptop, Srouji said, Apple's GPU uses 100w less power, and outperforms PC laptops plugged in or on battery.

"It's by far the most capable chip we've ever built," he added.

Apple debuts M1 Pro and M1 Max

Apple says it's "completely reimagining" the MacBook Pro, starting with the "M1 Pro" chip. Johny Srouji, SVP hardware technologies, said one of its biggest benefits is that the new chip can support up to 32GB of memory, and 2x the transistors of last year's M1. It has 8 high-performance cores, and 2 "efficiency" cores. It also has a 16-core GPU and it supports ProRes video.

M1 Pro can also support multiple displays.

"M1 Pro is unlike anything in a pro computer," he said.

New AirPods 3


Apple's introducing a third generation of its entry-level AirPods with spatial audio built in. The new devices have a an AirPods Pro-like look, with a similar case and force sensor controls on the stems.

Susmita Dutta, Apple's engineering program manager, audio, said the company created a new "low distortion driver" and it's sweat and water resistant.

Apple has a new "contour design," and also has "adaptive EQ" to change how you hear sounds based on the conditions in your ear canal. 

Apple says it now has 6 hours of listening time on a charge, and up to 30 hours total using the charging case. 

Apple's including wireless charging for $179. Last generation AirPods, meanwhile, will remain on sale for $129, a $30 discount.

Apple Music introduces $5 'Voice' plan to access tunes solely through Siri

Apple upgrades HomePod Mini with new colors


Apple's adding yellow, orange and blue colors to its $99 HomePod Mini smart speakers. This follows upgrades for the iMac earlier this year, which offered seven colors including orange, yellow and blue as well. The new HomePod Minis will be made available starting in November. (No specific date from Apple yet.)

Upgrading Siri with new playlists and new subscription option

Apple begins with a new "voice" plan for its Apple Music service, offering $5 per month to access Apple Music through Siri. The new feature will also allow Apple Music subscribers to ask for a playlist based on what's going on, like a hike, or dinner party.

It starts with everything Apple ever made

Apple began its event with an homage to the iconic startup sounds and various noises you hear from the company's devices. Someone in their garage is writing a song using them, which is cute.

Then we get Tim Cook. "At Apple, we are focused on creating innovative products and experiences." He says we'll be talking about music and the Mac today.

What else?

Apple's also expected to announce new versions of its popular $159 AirPods wireless earbuds. This new version is expected to look similar to the more expensive AirPods Pro, according to reports by Bloomberg, but won't have the same features like active noise cancellation and "spatial" surround sound

Apple's also expected to release its next free major Mac software update, MacOS Monterey. As has been the trend for the past few years, Apple put work into melding the Mac, iPad and iPhone even further with this release. While MacOS is still very different from its mobile device cousins, it has features that work much closer with it. Perhaps most dramatic this year is a feature that allows you to use the same keyboard and mouse to interact with a Mac laptop, desktop or iPad at any time.

So far

Apple's revamp for its MacBook Pros follows earlier upgrades for its computer lines. Earlier this year, Apple upgraded its iMac line with a new entry-level $1,299 M1-powered version that came in seven colors including orange.

Aside from that, Apple's also released upgraded versions of its $999 MacBook Air, $699 Mac Mini and entry-level $1,299 MacBook Pro. Those upgraded machines didn't look different on the outside, but CNET's computer reviewer Dan Ackerman found they offered impressive battery life while still running apps well.

Customers seem to be gobbling them up so far. Apple said it sold so many M1 Macs that the product line helped push its desktop and laptop revenues to an all-time high of $9.1 billion during the first three months of this year. That was up 70% from the same time a year earlier, a dramatic change in an otherwise slow-going market. "Keep in mind, in the five years prior to the pandemic, the Mac was essentially a flat business, growing on average 1% annually," Loup Ventures analyst Gene Munster wrote in May. 

Read more: All the MacBook Pro rumors out there

What we expect

Last month, we got the iPhone 13, revamped iPad Mini and newly upgraded entry-level iPad. This time around, we're expecting Apple will be focusing on its computers. In particular, Apple's expected to announce new MacBook Pro laptops, with upgraded internal chips. Apple's in the midst of a significant technology switch, moving from Intel-powered microprocessors to those designed by Apple's internal teams.

These M-series chips, as Apple calls them, are based on the well-regarded A-series chips that have powered iPads and iPhones since 2010.

The rumor mill suggests that Apple won't just be upgrading the inside of its performance-focused laptops. It's also expected to add back a magnetic charging cable (of which I'm a big fan) and HDMI port. It's also said to be ditching the hotly debated Touch Bar.

Read more: All the rumors ahead of Apple's big event

And it begins

Hi everyone, welcome to CNET's liveblog for Apple's second major product release event this fall. As with events for the past year and a half, Apple will be broadcasting remotely over the internet.

At one point, before the delta variant of the coronavirus really started to surge, I'd wondered whether Apple would return to in-person events this fall. I started preparing in my head about whether I'd be comfortable traveling on a plane, knowing that even though I'm fully vaccinated, there's a chance I could bring the virus back to my young children. Of course, I could bring it back from the grocery store too, but getting on a plane and traveling across the country seemed like it was a different level of risk.

Fortunately, while parents like me anxiously wait for the government to clear the vaccine for children, I won't have to face down that choice. Pandemic or no, CNET's team is here and ready for whatever Apple has to announce today.