Wednesday, 10 July 2019 00:50

Apple updates MacBook Air and Pro, removes non-Touch Bar Pro, 12-inch MacBook

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Apple has simplified its 2019 MacBook line-up by removing the 12-inch model and the MacBook Pro without TouchBar, while reducing the MacBook Air's price and more.

Apple has updated its MacBook Air, finally adding True Tone to its Retina display, which as Apple states, delivers "a more natural viewing experience".

In a world used to Apple raising its prices, the company has lowered the price of the entry-level MacBook Air to A$1699, while offering university students an even better discount down to A$1549.

Of course, there are more powerful models available with more RAM, SSD storage space and more, with the entry level model offering 128GB of storage with options up to 1TB of space, but it's nice to see Apple lowering at least some prices which makes a MacBook Air more affordable.

Yes, there are notebook PCs under $500, but compared to a MacBook Air, these are garbage in comparison, either running dog-slow processors or coming with dog-slower spinning hard disk drives or whatever other compromises you get subjected to at those too-good-to-be-true low price points, while also running Windows rather than the superior MacOS.

Indeed, I am typing this article on a 2018 MacBook Air, and having used a MacBook Pro before that, I have been very happy indeed with the MacBook Air's performance, along with its third-gen keyboard that is definitely quieter than the previous 2nd-gen butterfly keyboards used in the 2017 MacBook Pro machines.

Apple says MacBookAir is one of its "most popular notebooks for students", stating that it "features a thin and light design in three beautiful finishes, the convenience and security of Touch ID, an 8th-generation dual-core processor, immersive wide stereo sound and all-day battery life.

"Its stunning 13-inch Retina display now features True Tone that automatically adjusts the colour temperature of the display for a more comfortable viewing experience. MacBook Air is designed to power through daily tasks, from email and web surfing, to photo editing and FaceTime calls, and at an even lower price, it’s the do-it-all notebook for consumers and students alike."

More details on the new MacBook Air here

Then there's the improvements to the MacBook Pro range

When Apple updated the 13-inch MacBook Pro range in 2018, it did not update the entry-level MacBook Pro model's processor to the 8th-gen model.

In 2019, Apple has finally done just that, offering "the latest 8th-generation quad-core processors", which Apple says makes it "two times more powerful than before", while finally adding in the Touch Bar and fingerprint Touch ID reader, along with "a True Tone Retina display and the Apple T2 Security Chip", priced at A$1999, or for university students, a price of $1,849.

Apple explains that "the 13-inch MacBook Pro packs powerful processors, super-fast SSDs, all-day battery life and the best Mac notebook display ever into a portable 1.37kg design. Today, the entry-level 13-inch MacBook Pro adds the latest quad-core processors for up to two times faster performance, Touch Bar and Touch ID, True Tone to the brilliant Retina display, the Apple T2 Security Chip and immersive stereo speakers with wide stereo sound.

"With all these powerful features, MacBook Pro is the perfect choice for students heading into university and looking for the notebook that will help power them through graduation and beyond."

Continuing the student theme, Apple notes that "with their sleek, portable designs, Retina displays, great everyday performance, all-day battery life and running macOS, Mac notebooks have never been more popular in higher education, with Student Monitor data showing nearly 60% of US college notebook buyers own a Mac," which comes via the Student Monitor, Spring 2019 Report.

Tom Boger, Apple’s senior director of Mac Product Marketing said: "College students love the Mac – it’s the notebook they rely on from the dorm room to the classroom, and the No. 1 choice among higher education students.

“With a lower A$1,549 university student price for MacBook Air and the updated 13-inch MacBook Pro with faster performance, Touch Bar and Touch ID at A$1849 for university students, there’s never been a better time to bring a Mac to college.”

That said, Macs are for everyone, not just university students, and while Apple has long offered educational discounts, it clearly doesn't hurt to remind people they exist.

Apple is also reminding us about the next big and free upgrade to macOS, dubbed macOS Catalina. Coming in Spring, and most likely towards the end of September, Apple notes that "MacBook Air and MacBook Pro can be updated at no cost with macOS Catalina, the latest version of the world’s most advanced desktop operating system, packed with cool new features, fresh new apps and powerful new technology for developers.

"macOS Catalina comes with Apple’s popular entertainment apps — Apple Music, Apple Podcasts and the Apple TV app — and the all-new Sidecar feature enables users to extend their Mac desktop by using their iPad as a second display or as a high-precision input device. New security features keep users better protected and Voice Control lets users control their Mac entirely with their voice."

More information on macOS Catalina is here

So, if you're in the market for a portable Mac, Apple has made the entry-level MacBook Air cheaper, and has improved its entry-level MacBook Pro while adding other improvements, all of which should help Apple sell even more Macs during a time when PC makers worry about ever slower sales.

I personally made the switch in 2011, with the vast majority of Mac owners knowing only too well that once you go Mac, you never go back, so for a superior computing experience, may a Mac soon be in your future if you aren't wisely using one already!

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Alex Zaharov-Reutt

One of Australia’s best-known technology journalists and consumer tech experts, Alex has appeared in his capacity as technology expert on all of Australia’s free-to-air and pay TV networks on all the major news and current affairs programs, on commercial and public radio, and technology, lifestyle and reality TV shows. Visit Alex at Twitter here.

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