New MacBooks, a Big New WatchOS Update, and Apple’s Mixed Reality Headset To Be Announced At WWDC

In addition to the company’s long-rumored mixed reality headset, Apple is expected to launch new MacBooks, as well as a “major” update to the Apple Watch’s watchOS software at its Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) in June. All told, WWDC 2023 could end up being one of Apple’s “biggest product launch events ever,” according to Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman. The Verge reports: Let’s start with the Macs. Gurman doesn’t explicitly say which macOS-powered computers Apple could announce in June, but lists around half a dozen devices it currently plans to release this year or early 2024. There’s an all new 15-inch MacBook Air, an updated 13-inch MacBook Air, and new 13-inch and “high-end” MacBook Pros. Meanwhile on the Mac side Apple still needs to replace its last Intel-powered device, the Mac Pro, with an Apple Silicon model, and it also reportedly has plans to refresh its all-in-one 24-inch iMac.

Bloomberg’s report notes that “at least some of the new laptops” will make an appearance. The bad news is that none are likely to run Apple’s next-generation M3 chips, and will instead ship with M2-era processors. Apple apparently also has a couple of new Mac Studio computers in development, but Bloomberg is less clear on when they could launch.

Over on the software side, which is WWDC’s traditional focus, watchOS will reportedly receive a “major” update that includes a revamped interface. Otherwise, we could be in for a relatively quiet show on the operating system front as iOS, iPadOS, macOS, and tvOS are not expected to receive major updates this year. Gurman does say that work to allow sideloading on iOS to comply with upcoming EU legislation is ongoing.

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The Galaxy Book3 Ultra Is Samsung’s Shot At the MacBook Pro

At the Samsung Galaxy Unpacked 2023 event today, Samsung announced the Galaxy Book3 Ultra, a 16-inch workstation laptop with a 120Hz OLED screen, an H-Series Core i7 or Core i9, and an RTX 4050 or 4070 GPU. “Samsung makes a number of Galaxy Book models, but this is the first one of the past few years that has really targeted the deep-pocketed professional user — that is, the core audience for Apple’s high-powered and wildly expensive MacBook Pro 16,” reports The Verge. “It’ll start at $2,399.99 ($100 cheaper than the base MacBook Pro 16), with a release date still to be announced.” From the report: Like its siblings in the Galaxy Book3 line, a big draw of this workstation will be its screen. It’s got a 2880 x 1800 120Hz 16:10 OLED display (a welcome change from the 16:9 panels that adorned last year’s Galaxy Book2) rated for 400 nits of brightness […]. Elsewhere, using the device felt pretty similar to using any number of other Samsung Galaxy Books, with a satisfyingly clicky keyboard, a smooth finish, a high-quality build, and a compact chassis. The Ultra is 0.65 inches thick and 3.9 pounds, which is slightly thinner and close to a pound lighter than the 16-inch MacBook Pro that Apple just released […].

I was able to use a number of Samsung’s continuity features, including Second Screen (which allows you to easily use a Galaxy Tab as a second monitor) and Quick Share (which allows you to quickly transfer images and other files between Samsung devices). For Samsung enthusiasts, those seem like handy features that aren’t too much of a hassle to set up. The one feature I had issues with was the touchpad — it registered some of my two-finger clicks as one-finger clicks and wasn’t quite picking up all of my scrolls. The units in Samsung’s demo area were preproduction devices, so I hope this is a kink Samsung can iron out before the final release.

Unfortunately, we don’t yet know how it will stack up when it comes to battery life. The M2 generation of MacBooks is very strong on that front — and given that the Galaxy Book3 Ultra is running a high-resolution screen, a power-hungry H-series processor, and a very power-hungry RTX GPU, I’m a little bit nervous about that. If Samsung can pull off a device that lasts nearly as long as Apple’s do, given those factors, hats off to them. Further reading:
The Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra Is a Minor Update To a Spec Monster
Samsung, Google and Qualcomm Team Up To Build a New Mixed-Reality Platform

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Base Model MacBook Air With M2 Chip Has Slower SSD Speeds In Benchmarks

According to The Verge’s review of the new MacBook Air with the M2 chip, the $1,199 base model equipped with 256GB of storage has a single NAND chip, which will lead to slower SSD speeds in benchmark testing. MacRumors reports: The dilemma arises from the fact that Apple switched to using a single 256GB flash storage chip instead of two 128GB chips in the base models of the new MacBook Air and 13-inch MacBook Pro. Configurations equipped with 512GB of storage or more are equipped with multiple NAND chips, allowing for faster speeds in parallel. In a statement issued to The Verge, Apple said that while benchmarks of the new MacBook Air and 13-inch MacBook Pro with 256GB of storage “may show a difference” compared to previous-generation models, real-world performance is “even faster”:

“Thanks to the performance increases of M2, the new MacBook Air and the 13-inch MacBook Pro are incredibly fast, even compared to Mac laptops with the powerful M1 chip. These new systems use a new higher density NAND that delivers 256GB storage using a single chip. While benchmarks of the 256GB SSD may show a difference compared to the previous generation, the performance of these M2 based systems for real world activities are even faster.” It’s unclear if Apple’s statement refers explicitly to real-world SSD performance or overall system performance.

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