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Posts tagged with "macbook air"

Can You Use a Headless MacBook Air with a Vision Pro?

Luke Miani (who runs a great YouTube channel I’ve been following for a while) has created the sort of beautiful monstrosity I would absolutely consider for my own workflow: he was able to remove a display from an M2 MacBook Air and use the remaining “macOS slab” as a fully functioning computer for the Vision Pro’s Mac Virtual Display mode.

If the sentence above doesn’t make any sense to you, go watch the video first:

The idea of using headless MacBooks has been around for a while, but I was wondering if it’d find new life with the Vision Pro and the ability to virtualize a Mac display or use Universal Control with it. Which is why I’m very glad that Miani tried this first and confirmed that, yes, a headless MacBook Air totally works as a very expensive Vision Pro accessory.

The reason I’m so fascinated by this project is that I find the current keyboard/trackpad setup on the Vision Pro lackluster. If you don’t want to use a Mac in the middle, your best bet is to get an accessory like a Twelve South MagicBridge to hold a Magic Keyboard and Magic Trackpad together. However, as I shared earlier this week, that accessory’s form factor is not ideal for lap usage:

I’m waiting for two different “trays” that promise a laptop-like configuration, but as I’ve been told by others online, those don’t fix the fact that the desktop Magic Trackpad doesn’t offer the sort of palm rejection features typically found in Mac laptops.

Which brings me back to Miani’s wonderfully weird and amazing experiment: what if the input portion of a Mac laptop could become a more portable and accurate input method for the Vision Pro, with support for Mac Virtual Display when needed? What if a keyboard computer (Apple II says hi) could be used with the Vision Pro or docked at a desk with a Thunderbolt hub and external monitor?

Realistically, Apple should make this kind of accessory and I’m so surprised that their answer for people who want to work solely on a Vision Pro is “buy the keyboard and trackpad from a few years ago that still have a Lightning connector”. I’m not going to do this to my own MacBook Air. But you have no idea how tempted I am to try.

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The Magic of the M2 MacBook Air

Stephen Hackett writing on 512 Pixels about the M2 MacBook Air:

There’s something about the design of this machine that I can’t escape. The footprint is pretty similar between the two notebooks, but in my backpack, there’s a huge difference. Don’t get me wrong: I am thrilled that the MacBook Pro has beefed up to be a better computer, but I’m drawn to the clean, simple look of the Air. I know the Pro is a better match for my workflows, but the Air can do everything I need — if just a little bit slower. And I don’t care about that speed difference any time I pick up the Air to take it with me. Something about it just clicks with me in a way I didn’t anticipate.

I completely understand where Stephen is coming from on this. On paper, the MacBook Pro’s advantages are undeniable, but they’re also expected. It’s a bigger, heavier ‘pro’ computer with fans, after all.

In contrast, the M2 Air feels like magic, despite the M1 version that preceded it. The performance boost from the M2 SoC and features like a bigger, brighter screen and a higher memory option are part of it, but so, too, is the fact that the new Air even looks like a MacBook Pro. Yet, the M2 MacBook Air is still the svelte, silent laptop that it replaces, which feels improbable if not impossible. Like Stephen, the MacBook Air has captured my heart, and I don’t see myself switching to a different Mac laptop anytime soon.

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M2 MacBook Air Ordering Begins July 8th With Deliveries Starting July 15th

The M2 MacBook Air, revealed by Apple during its WWDC keynote, now has order and release dates. When the new MacBook Air was announced during WWDC last month, Apple simply said the laptop would be released in July. In a press release today, the company said it would begin taking orders on Friday, July 8th at 5 AM Pacific Daylight Time, with deliveries beginning on July 15th.

The new M2 MacBook Air features Apple’s next-generation SoC, a 13.6” Liquid Retina display, a 1080p FaceTime camera, a four-speaker system, MagSafe charging, and up to 18 hours of battery life. The new model comes in four colors: midnight, starlight, silver, and space gray. Pricing starts at $1,199 and $1,199 for education customers. For more details on the M2 MacBook Air, be sure to check out our WWDC overview of the laptop and episode 280 of AppStories.


The M2’s Unique Combination of Unified Memory and GPU Performance May Reveal Apple’s Videogame Ambitions

As I mentioned on AppStories, I’m intrigued by what Apple is doing with the Apple silicon GPU and memory and what it could mean for gaming. Although no one has had a chance to put the M2 through its paces yet, AnandTech does an excellent job of putting the facts and figures from Monday’s keynote into perspective, explaining what it means for what will undoubtedly be a multi-tiered M2 chip family like the M1 family.

With the M2’s memory, Apple’s SoC picks up where the M1 Pro, Max, and Ultra left off. Like those higher-tier M1s, the M2 uses LPDDR5-6400 memory that supports 100GB/second of memory bandwidth, which is a 50% increase in bandwidth over the M1. The M2 also supports up to 24GB of unified memory, a 50% increase over the M1 Air.

That memory is paired with a GPU that can be configured with up to 10 cores, two more than the top-tier M1 Air. According to Apple, that 10-core GPU delivers a 35% increase in performance.

However, it’s the combination of more, higher-bandwidth memory and a more powerful GPU that should make a significant difference in the M2 Air’s performance of graphics-intensive tasks like rendering game assets. As AnandTech explains:

Apple’s unconventional use of memory technologies remains one of their key advantages versus their competitors in the laptop space, so a significant increase in memory bandwidth helps Apple to keep that position. Improvements in memory bandwidth further improve every aspect of the SoC, and that especially goes for GPU performance, where memory bandwidth is often a bottlenecking factor, making the addition of LPDDR5 a key enabler for the larger, 10-core GPU. Though in this case, it’s the M2 playing catch-up in a sense: the M1 Pro/Max/Ultra all shipped with LPDDR5 support first, the M2 is actually the final M-series chip/tier to get the newer memory.

We won’t know more until reviewers put the new M2 MacBook Air through their paces, but the M2 Air appears to be a significant step forward compared to the M1 model. As one of Apple’s most popular Macs, that’s important because it sets a performance benchmark that game developers need to target if they want to make a game for the majority of Mac owners.

During the keynote, Apple showed off two games running on the M2: No Man’s Sky, an older but frequently updated game, and Resident Evil Village, a game that arrived on the PC and consoles just last fall. Resident Evil Village especially caught my eye because it’s such a recent release. It’s just one game, but it stands in contrast to others that have been used to demo gaming on the Mac in the past.

It would be a mistake for anyone to pin their Mac gaming hopes on the scant details we have so far. However, the keynote made it clear to me that Apple has gaming ambitions beyond Arcade, and its unique SoC architecture has moved Macs one step closer to that becoming a reality.


You can follow all of our WWDC coverage through our WWDC 2022 hub or subscribe to the dedicated WWDC 2022 RSS feed.


M2 MacBook Air and MacBook Pro: The MacStories Overview

Yesterday during their WWDC keynote event, Apple unveiled the updated M2 Apple Silicon chip. While the M2 might not be quite as revolutionary of an upgrade as the M1 was over previous Intel chips, it’s still a very solid year-over-year improvement which continues to boost Apple ahead of the competition.

Debuting with the M2 inside are the all-new MacBook Air and the upgraded 13” MacBook Pro. While the MacBook Pro has very few changes other than the new processor, the MacBook Air sports a completely new industrial design. Let’s take a look at Apple’s latest entires into the Mac lineup.

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The M1 Mac mini and MacBook Air: A Giant Leap Forward for All Mac Users

It’s been just over two months since the first M1 Macs were delivered to customers. I purchased an M1 MacBook Air to replace my aging 2016 MacBook Pro, and not long after, Apple sent me an M1 Mac mini to try. In the ten weeks or so since then, I’ve used both almost exclusively for a wide variety of tasks, and although both computers are somewhat limited by their lack of ports, that has been less of an issue than I anticipated. What’s been far more notable, remarkable in fact, is the performance of the new MacBook Air and Mac mini.

Benchmarks don’t do these Macs justice. There are plenty of CPU-intensive tasks that are faster than before, which I expected would be the case. However, living with both of these Macs for as long as I have has given me a much greater appreciation for the impact that the M1 has on ordinary, day-to-day tasks. The differences are less pronounced for individual tasks that require less computing power, but the aggregate impact has still been significant for both computers, especially the MacBook Air.

The M1 SoC. Source: Apple.

The M1 SoC. Source: Apple.

Performance increases quickly become the ‘new normal.’ They tend to fade into the background. What starts as startling soon becomes ordinary and expected. The M1 Macs are no different in this respect and perhaps even more so because they look like the machines that came before them.

Still, if you step back and consider these new Macs in the context of those that immediately preceded them and account for the fact that these are entry-level models, the future of the Mac is bright. The M1 update makes these Macs substantially better deals than the versions they replace with computing power to spare for most users. The new machines also bode well for the remainder of the Mac lineup that hasn’t been updated yet.

I’m excited to see what the M1 means for the rest of the product line, and I’m sure I’ll be tempted to try them, but I’ve also never been more content with new Macs than these. I’m sure there are things I do that future M1 Macs will do even faster, but the M1 MacBook Air and Mac mini have introduced a fluidity in my daily computing that I haven’t experienced since I first tried the iPad Pro. It’s the sort of subtle, qualitative shift that can’t be captured by benchmarks but has rekindled my fondness for the platform by improving the experience across the board. Here’s what I mean.

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Apple M1 Mac Review Roundup: Big Performance and Battery Gains

Last week, Apple unveiled M1-based models of the MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, and Mac mini. With deliveries of the computers beginning to arrive around the world, reviews are out, and I’ve rounded up some of the most interesting tidbits from them.

The reviews are overwhelmingly positive with a few caveats. However, reviewers were universally impressed by the new Macs’ performance and the laptops’ battery life. The experience of Wired’s Julian Chokkattu was common:

Spend a day with the new MacBook Air and the improvements are immediately noticeable. The thing’s as powerful as many of the higher-end Intel-powered Macs, blowing past the speed limits of the higher-tier MacBook Air from earlier this year. The M1 is no Mac evolution, it’s a Mac revolution.

What’s especially remarkable about these Macs is that they are low-end models as Jason Snell observes on Six Colors:

It’s all too easy to overlook the fact that these are low-end models, given how fast they are. But this is just Apple’s first step in what the company says is a two-year-long transition. The M1 chip, which appears to be a next-generation riff on the A12X processor in that 2018 iPad Pro, has a bunch of limitations that will undoubtedly not exist on future Apple-designed Mac processors: It only supports two Thunderbolt ports and up to 16GB of RAM. It has no support for external GPUs or discrete graphics of any kind. It can drive a maximum of two displays. It is, by every definition, a low-end chip, the slowest and least capable Mac chip Apple will ever make.

And yet…

Based on my testing, it’s also safe to say that all three M1-based Macs, these low-end systems at the bottom of Apple’s price lists, are among the fastest Macs ever made.

Jason and Myke Hurley also interviewed Apple’s Tim Millet and Tom Boger on Upgrade about the M1 Macs.

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The M1 MacBook Air and 13” MacBook Pro: The MacStories Overview

Before today’s event, little was known about the Apple silicon Macs that the company promised to release by the end of the year. Today, during an online presentation hosted by CEO Tim Cook from Apple Park, Apple took the wraps off its new M1 chip, which powers the new MacBook Air, 13” MacBook Pro, and Mac mini.

Let’s take a look at Apple’s new laptops.

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New MacBook Air Review Roundup

Today the MacBook Air review embargo lifted, allowing writers and YouTubers to publish their takes on Apple’s 2020 model. Unsurprisingly, considering all that the company improved this year, the reviews are strong across the board.

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