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"We love the Mac," Tim Cook said at the beginning of Tuesday's Apple launch event, and I swear I could hear every developer in Silicon Valley yell, "Yeah, OK, whatever, Tim, how about that keyboard!"
Apple clearly thinks the future for most people looks more like an iPad than a laptop or desktop. But after Tuesday's event, it's at least obvious it still cares about the Mac.
- It's launching three new Macs, all running the company's homemade M1 chip: a new MacBook Air, a new MacBook Pro and a new Mac Mini. All three are meant to be faster and more efficient than their Intel-powered brethren. And on the laptops? It's all about battery life.
- Apple framed the new lineup as more than just "the Macs you know, now with Apple Silicon." It seems to understand that most people's PCs are the hub of their setups: maybe not the device they use most often, but the one that has all the storage and all the apps.
- That means making the Mac work more like — and better with — your other devices becomes all the more important.
Apple's pushing hard on universal apps and the Rosetta 2 tech that makes mobile apps work on Macs even without extra work. This idea has a long, decorated history of not working very well (just ask the Chrome OS or Windows RT teams), but it's also true that nobody wrangles developers like Apple does.
- It does really want you to care about the M1 chip, though. It's only five nanometers! 16 billion transistors! It was classic all-our-competitors-suck posturing from Apple. And you can tell, just from the sheer amount of time it spent on teraflops and per-watt performance, that Apple sees the Mac as mostly a power-user device.
- And in case you're waiting to dive in until you're sure Apple's serious about the chip, it looks like you can be sure. They're already rolling the M1 into three devices: the Pro, the Mini and the Air. This switch is going to happen, and it sounds like it's going to happen quickly.