Apple Inc. unveiled the most significant overhaul to its popular MacBook Air laptop in more than a decade, bringing a fresh design, new colours and a speedier M2 processor from its homegrown chip line.
The company showcased the updated laptop Monday at its Worldwide Developers Conference, an event that's otherwise focused on software updates for the iPhone, iPad, Mac, Apple Watch and other devices. The new Air adds yet another machine to the company's lucrative lineup of computers, which has seen revenue jump since a switch away from Intel Corp. chips in 2020.
The new MacBook Air loses the tapered shape of the previous version and instead uses a design that looks similar to the 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pros launched at the end of 2021. The machine has a 13.6-inch screen, up from 13.3 inches on the previous model, and - like the MacBook Pro - a 1080p camera with twice the resolution of the previous model.
The updated computer includes an M2 processor, the biggest generational leap for Apple's Mac chips since its in-house components for computers debuted in November 2020. The MacBook Air update is the first since then, when it was one of the earliest Macs to get the M1 chip. The latest version will be 40% faster, Apple said.
The new M2 chip also is coming to the 13-inch MacBook Pro, the company said Monday. The new Air model will start at $1,199, while the Pro price begins at $1,299.
The Mac lineup generates a fraction of the sales that Apple's iPhone does, but it's been a solid performer in recent years. It accounted for nearly 11% of revenue in the last quarter, more than the iPad and Apple's wearables and home products.
The last major MacBook Air overhaul was in 2018 when the company added a Retina display, but the device looked similar overall to the 2010 model - previously considered the most significant redesign in the laptop's history. The MacBook Air was first launched in 2008 by Steve Jobs, when the Apple co-founder pulled the ultrathin laptop out of a manila envelope.
Apple intended to launch the revamped MacBook Air in 2021, but it was delayed by supply-chain snags, the chip shortage and internal design challenges. Bloomberg reported earlier this year that it would launch at the Apple developer conference along with the new MacBook Pro.
The latest MacBook Air and MacBook Pro are two of several next-generation Macs in testing with variations of the M2 chip. Apple is also working on new Mac Pro desktop, high-end MacBook Pros, Mac minis and an iMac for release over the next year or so.