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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Apple on Tuesday debuted the first Macs with chips the company designed in-house, introducing updated versions of the MacBook Air, MacBook Pro and Mac mini that use its new M1 processor.

Why it matters: The move away from Intel processors could reduce costs for Apple and give the company more flexibility in design, but also adds short-term uncertainty as well as extra work for developers.

MacBook Air

The first Mac with Apple chips is a MacBook Air, which resembles past models, but is powered by Apple's M1 processor rather than an Intel chip.

  • Apple says the battery on the new MacBook Air can power 15 hours of Web browsing, 18 hours of video playback and last twice as long when doing video conferencing.
  • Apple also removed the fan used in previous models.
  • It still starts at $999 ($899 for education customers)
Mac mini

Apple put its newest chip in its smallest desktop computer, the Mac mini. (While not widely rumored, the move wasn't a huge shock since Apple used a modified Mac mini to offer developers a machine to test how their apps would run on Apple silicon.)

  • The Mac mini will start at $699 — $100 less than the prior Intel-powered model.
MacBook Pro

Apple is also bringing the M1 to the 13-inch Mac Book Pro.

  • The new MacBook Pro can deliver 17 hours of wireless web browsing and 20 hours of video playback, Apple said.
  • The starting price remains the same, at $1,299 (education customers will pay $1,199).

All the new models will be available for pre-order today and start shipping next week. Apple also said that it will release the latest version of its Mac operating system, Mac OS Big Sur, on Thursday.

The M1 processor

Apple's M1 processor has 16 billion transistors and an 8-core CPU (4 high-performance and 4 high-efficiency) as well as 8 graphics cores. Apple says the high-efficiency cores alone can deliver the same performance as current MacBook Airs at a quarter of the power consumption.

Between the lines: One of the key things to watch is how quickly developers design their apps to run natively on the new chips. Apple says all its apps have been updated for the new chips, as have key programs from others.

  • Adobe's Lightroom is coming next month while Photoshop will arrive next year.

For apps not built for the new chips, Apple has a translation engine dubbed Rosetta 2. Because the M1 processor is based on the same technology behind Apple's chipsets for the iPad and iPhone, most iOS apps should also now run on the Mac for the first time.

Go deeper: Why Apple's shift to homegrown chips matters

Go deeper

Ina Fried, author of Login
Nov 23, 2020 - Technology

Lynn Conway, transgender and tech pioneer, gets IBM apology

Photo by Jeremy Moeller/Getty Images

IBM last month offered a public apology to Lynn Conway, a pioneering computer scientist whom the company fired in 1968 when it learned of her gender transition.

The big picture: Conway broke new ground in both tech and transgender rights, and IBM's apology, first reported in Forbes, came with a Lifetime Achievement Award.

27 mins ago - Health

U.S. exceeds 100,000 COVID-related hospitalizations for the first time

People wait outside the Emergency room of the Garfield Medical Center in Monterey Park, California on Dec 1. Photo: Frederic J. Brown/Getty Images

More than 100,200 Americans were hospitalized as of Wednesday due to the coronavirus for the first time since the outbreak began in early 2020, per the COVID Tracking Project.

The big picture: The milestone comes as health officials anticipated cases to surge due to holiday travel and gatherings. The impact of the holiday remains notable, as many states across the country are only reporting partial data.

4 hours ago - Science

The "war on nature"

A resident stands on his roof as the Blue Ridge Fire burned back in October in Chino Hills, Calif. Photo: Jae C. Hong/AP

Apocalyptic weather is the new normal because humans are "waging war on nature," the UN declared on Wednesday.

What they're saying: "The state of the planet is broken," said UN Secretary-General António Guterres, reports AP. “This is suicidal.”