Exclusive: Apple explains how the new MacBook Air was designed for travel

Take a look around an airport, airplane, or hotel, and chances are you'll see at least a few Apple devices nearby.

From iPhones to iPads to AirTags, the tech giant has developed a portfolio of products that have proven popular among many travelers. Perhaps it's their portable and durable design or the ease with which the devices interact with each other, but the company has worked hard to convince road warriors to spend money for its technology.

Apple may have already won most of the smartphone, smartwatch, and tablet markets. However, Apple's MacBook laptops have not been able to reach the top of the laptop sector – especially among corporate travelers who rely primarily on Windows machines.

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But Apple is still working to carve out a role in that area. Earlier this month, the company unveiled a new MacBook Air that includes a number of upgrades, all designed to entice users — especially travelers — to upgrade to this laptop.

How is Apple going to do this? TPG got an exclusive interview with Evan Buse on Apple's Mac product marketing team to find out. Byze told us how the company has designed this computer especially for travelers.

Thin, light and durable design

It starts with a thin, lightweight design that comes in both 13.6- and 15.3-inch versions.

Byz said the tiny computer weighs just 2.7 pounds and is only 0.44 inches thick, making it an ideal choice for the traveler who wants to maximize portability. It's also the more affordable of the two options, with prices starting at $1,099.

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Business travelers – as well as those looking for a little more screen real estate for multitasking – will likely prefer the larger 15-inch model. It's only half a pound heavier than the 13-inch version, and its price starts at $1,299.

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Apart from the difference in size, the design of the 13- and 15-inch models is practically identical. The latter has a more robust speaker system.

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Both laptops are no thicker than about a 100-page book; Buzze said that Apple worked hard so that breadth did not come at the expense of durability. The new MacBook Air is built with an all-aluminum unibody casing that is “designed to be super durable.”

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Whether it's unexpected turbulence or an unwieldy galley cart coming down the aisle, Byze explained that Apple puts the MacBook Air through its special “reliability testing lab.”

“(It) simulates many different customer experiences,” he said. “(In the lab) they do a lot of different things to be able to make sure that whatever situation you're in, whether it's in your backpack or you're carrying it, it meets our standards for reliability.” completes.”

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During Buse's four-year tenure working on the MacBook Air, he has heard from travelers who have used the computer in Ubers, in hotel rooms, and on airplane tray tables in coffee shops. He and the team weighed all of these examples as use cases when considering sustainability requirements.

Buyze wouldn't share more details about whether Apple's test labs have fake airplane seats or tray tables; He only said that the company uses “rigorous testing methods” to ensure the computers work in all travel scenarios.

All day battery life

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Despite the increased power demands from the upgraded processor (more on that below), Apple was able to maintain 18 hours of battery life for both models of the MacBook Air.

Of course, when traveling, you often don't know where you will find your next (operational) power outlet. So, even if you're on a flight without a power outlet, the battery will provide plenty of energy for the whole day.

Although I haven't tested battery life on the new MacBook Air, I recently picked up the previous model – which I use as my personal everyday computer – The world's longest flight from New York to Singapore. I started the flight at 100% and played a looping movie on the laptop to see when it would end. After about 18 hours in the air, I touched down and saw that the battery level was at 17% – about as good as a laptop.

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Plus, even if you don't plan on using the full 18 hours of battery, according to Byz, the computer also doubles “as a great charger for your iPhone or iPad.” With two USB-C ports, you can power two devices simultaneously and still have juice left for the laptop; This can be useful when you are not near a power outlet.

New processor offers more power

Perhaps the biggest upgrade with the new computer is the introduction of Apple's proprietary M3 processor chip. While the technical details – up to an 8-core CPU, 10-core GPU and 16-core Neural Engine – may be dizzying, Byz turned them into easy-to-understand comparisons.

He said, “If you're coming from an M1 MacBook Air, it's up to 60% faster with a MacBook Air with an M3. If you're upgrading from an Intel-based MacBook Air, it's up to 13x faster.” Is.”

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One particular aspect of the new processor that travelers may like is the introduction of more efficient video streaming for services like Netflix. According to Byz, this will allow you to stream for longer periods of time.

While the new chips could make a powerful impact, they were also the “secret sauce” to making computers so portable.

“How do we get that thin and light design that fits on a tray table?” Buze asked. He responded by explaining that “the transition to Apple silicon (processor chips) … was really the game changer where we could actually make these new designs that we had only imagined making before.”

connectivity upgrade

Another big travel-focused improvement that Apple is making with the new MacBook Air is the introduction of advanced connectivity.

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According to Byz, the laptops now support Wi-Fi 6E, which has “up to twice as fast speeds” with “enlarged wireless spectrum.” This means that even when you are on a train or in an airport or hotel with a congested network, the new antennas can connect to the Internet without any interruption.

Airlines and hotels will also need to upgrade their Internet routers to take full advantage of Wi-Fi 6E. Some have already started this process, and other new planes and hotels have it already installed.

The MacBook Air also supports Apple's MagSafe charging port, which magnetically attaches the charging cable to the computer and automatically disconnects when someone trips over it or pulls it out.

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“It's perfect for traveling when you don't know the environment and it gives you peace of mind for all the different scenarios,” he said.

Finally, to minimize space, most portable laptops available in the market compromise on the size and durability of the keyboard. According to Buys, the MacBook Air sports a full-sized keyboard that is “designed to be truly comfortable with a quiet and enjoyable typing experience”.

ground level

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A new model of Apple's best-selling laptop, the MacBook Air, is now available in stores.

According to Apple, it comes with a few upgrades, many of which were designed specifically for travelers. This includes things like a new processor and better connectivity, as well as maintaining full in-flight battery life in a thin, light and durable design.

The new model builds on the strong foundation established by previous versions of the MacBook Air. With its travel-friendly features and lack of price hike, it's safe to say that the MacBook Air is a strong candidate for one of the best travel laptops money can buy.

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