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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
Updated Jan 27, 2021 - Technology

Apple's quarterly sales top $100 billion for first time

Credit: Apple

Spurred by strong sales of the latest iPhones, Apple reported it took in a record $111 billion in revenue for the three months ended Dec. 31, as the company crushed expectations.

Why it matters: The move showed even a pandemic didn't dull demand for Apple's latest smartphones.

Updated 48 mins ago - Energy & Environment

Thousands without power as "hazardous" winter storm lashes East Coast

Satellite imagery of the Northeastern U.S. taken by NOAA on Jan. 17. Photo: NOAA

A major winter storm lashed much of the East Coast Sunday and Monday, causing widespread power outages and disrupting travel over the holiday weekend.

The latest: Authorities in North Carolina confirmed that two people died in a car crash and that they responded 600 vehicle accidents during the storm on Sunday, per the Washington Post.

Texas abortion law remains in effect after appeals court ruling

Pro- and anti-abortion protesters outside the Supreme Court as arguments begin about the Texas abortion law on Capitol Hill in November. Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images

A U.S. appeals court transferred a challenge to Texas' law banning most abortions after about six weeks of pregnancy to the state supreme court in a 2-1 vote on Monday evening.

Why it matters: The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals' decision means the country's most restrictive abortion law can remain in place for the time being.