While WWDC by its name – the Worldwide Developer Conference – is about software, Apple’s unveiled some hardware at the show for the second year in a row. This time it detailed refreshed a Macbook Air lineup, all-new Airport Extreme base stations, and a sneak peek of something very special.
The new Airs get updated with Intel’s new silicon – the fourth-generation (codenamed Haswell) Core i5 and i7 processors. Intel’s been saying that these new chips have faster graphics than ever before, and also use far less power. Now Apple’s written the cheques for Intel’s promises: the new Macbook Air 11-inch has battery life upped from 5 hours to 9 hours, and the 13-inch model gets a battery life boost from 7 hours to 12 hours. Incredible gains, to say the least, and Apple’s notebooks have always managed to come close to (or even beat) their claimed battery life figures. Graphics performance is also improved, thanks to the newer graphics cores in the Intel chips, and even the new flash memory used for storage is 45% faster, but hands-on time with these will be the real test. Wireless has also been updated on the new machines, and those lucky few with 802.11ac wireless devices will be smiling.
In case you don’t have an 802.11ac wireless device, Apple’s willing to supply one in the form of the all-new Airport Extreme. The base station supports the new gigabit-capable wireless standard, and even uses beamforming to find your computer or phone and improve the signal to it. With a new form factor – a smaller footprint, but taller construction – it allows for improved antenna placement so that signal is far better than before. The tall design also means there’s room for a hard drive, so there will be a new Time Capsule, too.
Finally, the Cupertino computer company went back to its roots and showed off a new Mac Pro, which will go on sale later this year.