Apple unveils Pay Later service, iPhone updates and new Macbook Airs

Apple has unveiled a powerful new computer chip, updated laptops and a bevy of software features to kick off its Worldwide Developer Conference, along with its own take on a buy-now-pay-later service.

The new chip, called the M2, is Apple’s second generation of its in-house custom silicon. The company claims it offers 8 per cent faster CPU performance, and up to 35 per cent faster graphics, than the original M1. It also said performance was almost twice as fast as the latest 10-core PC laptop chip, without specifying the chip it was measuring against.

The M2 will presumably be included in the next wave of laptops and tablets across Apple’s range, but the first to receive it will be the new MacBook Air and 13-inch MacBook Pro. The Air has been given an overhauled design with a 20 per cent reduction in volume and the return of the MagSafe charging port. Meanwhile the Pro is more or less unchanged but for the M2 and an option for more memory.

In a sign of continuing supply-chain challenges, the new machines won’t go on sale until next month. The computers can’t be ordered yet and are listed as currently unavailable on Apple’s website. Due to COVID-19-related shutdowns in China, an Apple-contracted factory for building Macs was temporarily shuttered, delaying shipments. When they arrive in Australia, the Air will go for $1899 and the Pro for $1999.

The new payment feature is called Apple Pay Later and, like the Apple credit card, is limited to the United States. It allows users to pay for any Apple Pay purchase in four instalments over three weeks, with no interest or fees. Apple’s move further into the finance world, which also brings more of its Pay infrastructure in-house, has been long rumoured. It puts the company in direct competition with Australia’s AfterPay, which is now owned by Square, as well as PayPal and many others.

But the week-long WWDC is primarily designed to preview key new software features for Apple’s developers, which now number 34 million, according to chief executive officer Tim Cook. And during the keynote event many updates to iPhone, iPad, Mac and Apple Watch software were detailed ahead of their availability later this year.

The latest iPhone software, iOS 16, will include a new lock screen with multi-layered graphical effects, customisable interactive widgets, and the ability to swipe through multiple lock screen configurations just like changing faces on an Apple Watch. Notifications will be relegated to a rolling feed at the bottom of the screen.

Also coming to iPhones in iOS 16 will be the ability to edit and unsend text messages, turn on vibration feedback for Apple’s keyboard, and use the fitness app even without an Apple Watch.

The peek at the software features comes a few months ahead of the launch of a new iPhone — Apple’s flagship product — which typically gets unveiled late in the year.

For iPad, Apple on improving multitasking and collaboration for its most recent and powerful models. For Mac, Apple is expanding its Continuity features by allowing an iPhone to be used as a webcam. And Apple’s CarPlay is getting an overhaul that will integrate more tightly with a vehicle’s instruments, such as the speedometer and other gauges.

The Apple Watch also is getting improvements, such as atrial fibrillation detection to help with heart health. And the device’s latest software — watchOS 9 — will better track sleep to indicate what stage users are experiencing at different times at night.

Apple also said it plans to work with developers to create a password-less future. The company is updating its Safari browser to help with password management and moving toward Passkeys, which are cryptographic keys that can’t be phished and stay on the device themselves.

with Bloomberg

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