WWDC: Apple Surprises with Product and Software Reveals

Day one of Apple’s WWDC 2023 conference from the company’s headquarters in Cupertino was about much more than the anticipated Vision Pro mixed reality headset. The company introduced a powerhouse Mac Pro with Ultra M2, starting at $6,999, and upgraded Mac Studio desktops with M2 Max or M2 Ultra chips. The macOS Sonoma desktop operating system was among the reveals, along with the new 15-inch MacBook Air. Apple took the wraps off iOS 17 and announced that FaceTime and videoconferencing are coming to Apple TV in 4K with tvOS 17. The company’s watchOS 10 rounded out the new product and software highlights.

TechCrunch says the two new Macs, which ship this month, are “the last of the Apple products transitioning away from Intel processors” and describes the Mac Pro with M2 Ultra as “an absolute beast.” Starting at $6,999, you should “expect it to be a lot more expensive once you’ve added all the bells and whistles you might want,” the outlet cautions.

With a top of the line M2 Ultra chip (complete with 32-core Neural Engine, 24-core CPU and 76-core GPU), extra unified memory and SSD storage, wheels and Magic Mouse and trackpad, and you’re looking at $12,348, tallies The Verge (adding another $500 for Final Cut Pro and Logic Pro).

CNET explains the Mac Pro comes standard with “eight Thunderbolt ports, two HDMI ports and dual 10GB ethernet ports, with six open PCIe Gen 4 slots” and can be ordered in either upright tower or horizontal rack configurations. The M2 Ultra, its “most powerful chip ever,” is capable of up to 22 simultaneous streams of 8K ProRes video playback, according to Apple’s Mac Pro spec sheet.

The Mac Studio packs a considerable wallop for its $1,999 base price (M2 Max chip, 32GB of unified memory and 512GB of SSD storage) and goes up to $5,999 (M2 Ultra chip, 128GB of unified memory and 4TB of SSD storage), according to Apple.

Discussing the Mac Studio, MacRumors explains the M2 Ultra “is essentially a doubled-up M2 Max chip. It features a 24-core CPU, up to a 76-core GPU, a 32-core Neural Engine, and support for up to 192GB of unified memory,” assessing it is 3x faster than its M1 predecessor.

The new macOS Sonoma desktop operating system includes a Game Mode for Mac that provides games with priority access to CPU and GPU resources, and offers reduced latency for connected Xbox and PlayStation controllers as well as AirPods.

“Apple says the mode works with all titles on the operating system,” writes The Verge, noting that “to affirm its commitment to gaming on the Mac” Apple had game developer Hideo Kojima appear at WWDC to announce the “Death Stranding: Director’s Cut” is coming soon to macOS.

Apple’s full list of WWDC 2023 press releases are posted in the company’s newsroom.

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