Apple’s annual back-to-school deal is live now, and it includes a free pair of AirPods when you buy a Mac or iPad

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College email

  • Apple’s 2021 back-to-school discount lets you get a free pair of AirPods with a Mac or iPad purchase.
  • Apple’s year-round education pricing includes discounts on Macs and iPads, including $100 off the MacBook Air.
  • Not sure which MacBook is right for you? See our guide to the best Apple MacBook laptops.

Apple’s back-to-school discounts have arrived, and this year the iPhone maker is giving away a free pair of AirPods to students who buy an eligible Mac or iPad device.

The promotion is live now and runs through September 27. Those who are eligible can upgrade from the free standard AirPods with wired charging to the version with a wireless charging case for $40 or the AirPods Pro for just $90. That’s a significant discount from the AirPods Pro’s $250 list price and their typical street price of $220.

The offer is valid on purchases of the MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, iMac, Mac Pro, Mac Mini, iPad Pro, or iPad Air. Unfortunately, Apple’s 8th-generation iPad, which we’ve called the best iPad for most people, and the iPad Mini are excluded from this offer.

See below to learn more about Apple’s general education discounts and the eligibility requirements.

Find the best Apple back-to-school deals of this year below, or shop all of Apple’s education deals here.

Who is eligible for Apple education discounts?

The iPad

Apple’s Education Discounts are available to current or newly accepted college students, parents of students, and  faculty, staff, and home school teachers of all grade levels, according to the company’s website.

Here’s who is eligible for the Apple Education Discount:

  • K-12 staff: Anyone who currently works at a public or private K-12 school can get the discounts. Homeschool teachers are also eligible, as are currently serving school board members who have been elected or appointed to their posts. PTA or PTO executives who are currently serving and were elected or appointed can also get the deals.
  • Higher education staff and students: Anyone who works at an institution of Higher Education and any students who are attending or have been accepted into the Higher Education system can get the discounts.
  • Higher education Parents: Parents can get the discounts when they buy devices for their children if their children are currently attending or have been accepted into a public or private Higher Education institution.

Shop all Apple Education Discounts here.

Save up to $200 on a MacBook Pro

Macbook Air

Apple offers several deals on Mac computers for students, whether you’re looking for a MacBook Pro or a more powerful desktop computer. The discounts also apply to the new M1-powered iMac that Apple recently released. 

Here are the best Mac and MacBook education deals:

Save up to $100 on an iPad

ipad pro

If you’re in the market for an iPad, you could get a pretty sweet deal, too. Apple is offering up to $50 off some of its iPad models and $100 off the 12.9-inch iPad Pro for students, so it’s worth buying an iPad through Apple’s education store. There are also some pretty great deals on accessories for the iPad. 

There are sometimes better deals on iPads available through other retailers, but Apple’s education discount is consistently great.

Here are the best iPad back-to-school deals:

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How to get a virtual pet on your MacBook Touch Bar with Touchbar Pets

macbook pro touch bar
Touchbar Pets gives you a cute animal without any of the shedding.

  • Touchbar Pets is an app that lets you raise virtual pets that live in your MacBook’s Touch Bar.
  • Once you download Touchbar Pets and launch it, you can adopt a dog, cat, rabbit, or hamster.
  • You can walk, feed, and play with your virtual pets using the Touch Bar.
  • You need a MacBook with a Touch Bar, an iPad set up with Sidecar, or a Touch Bar emulator to use Touchbar pets.
  • Visit Insider’s Tech Reference library for more stories.

Tamagotchis, Pokémon, Furbies – if there’s one thing that people can never get enough of, it’s virtual pets.

If you’re looking for a new virtual pet to look after, and you have a MacBook with a Touch Bar, consider the free Touchbar Pets app. With just a few clicks, you can adopt an animal and walk, feed, and play with it all from your Touch Bar.

Here’s how to get Touchbar Pets set up and adopt your first pet.

How to get Touchbar Pets

Firstly, you’ll have to download the app from the developer’s website.

1. Visit the Touchbar Pets homepage and click the blue “Download” button.

touchbar pets 1
Touchbar Pets is free to download.

2. Save the .zip file to your computer, and then double-click it to extract the “Touchbar Pets” app.

3. Open the app and press “Play.”

touchbar pets 2
Click “Play” to get started.

4. You’ll be given two options: “Adopt Pet” and “Existing Pets.” Click adopt to make a new pet – once you’ve adopted a pet and closed the app, you can come back later and click “Existing” to see the pet again.

5. In the “Adopt Pet” menu, you can give your pet a name, pick its species (you can have a dog, cat, rabbit, or hamster), and pick its color (white, cream, black, or brown).

Once you’ve got your pet how you want it, click “Create,” and you’re ready to start.

touchbar pets 3
Design your pet and then create it.

6. You’ll be brought to the main game menu, and a tutorial will appear. Click through it to learn how the game plays, or check out our guide below.

How to play Touchbar Pets

Once you’ve closed the tutorial, your new pet will appear in the Touch Bar, along with four different stats.

  • Health tracks how close your pet is to death. If you go too long without feeding it, this will go down, and eventually hit zero.
  • Hunger tracks if your pet needs food. Letting this drop makes your pet less healthy.
  • Tokens are the currency in Touchbar Pets. Earn them by taking your pet on walks, and spend them on food, toys, and other collectibles.
  • Mode tells you how you can currently interact with your pet. “Design” lets you place props in its habitat, “Eat” lets you feed it, and “Play” lets you give it toys.

The main menu and game modes, explained

In the main menu, you have an inventory with six slots, and five options below it. Each of these has its own function and importance.

touchbar pets 7
The main menu gives you five main options.

Shop

This is where you’ll spend the tokens you earn. You can buy food, props for your animal’s habitat, and toys. Every animal has its own likes and dislikes, so be sure to read each item’s description.

touchbar pets 4
Every item has a description and price.

Just note that food and toys are all single-use – once your pet interacts with them, they’ll disappear, and you’ll have to buy them again.

If your pet dies, you can also spend 150 tokens on a “RevivePotion,” which will bring it back to full health.

Walk

This is probably where you’ll be spending most of your time.

Once you choose a walk duration – you can pick between “Short,” “Average,” and “Long” – you can take your pet on walks by pressing and holding your finger on either side of its habitat. You have to keep your finger on the Touch Bar for the entire walk.

By completing a walk, you’ll earn tokens – $50, $100, and $200 respectively for each duration. But you have to complete the entire walk, since you only get your reward at the very end.

Along the way, you’ll also have the chance to find treasure. Every 250m there’s a chance you’ll find a treasure box, which can be tapped for a prize. There’s also a random chance of finding litter, which might also give you treasure when you tap it.

touchbar pets 8
Walking with a cat and finding litter on the road.

However, be sure to notice if your pet poops on the side of the road. You’ll have to tap their waste to clean it, and if you don’t, you’ll be issued a $20 fine.

Pen

This option puts you in “Design” mode and lets you place props in your pet’s habitat.

While in Design mode, you can click a prop in your inventory and then tap a spot in the habitat to place it. Remember that none of the props are functional – they’re just for making the habitat look cute.

Mode

Unlike the other buttons, “Mode” has two icons that you’ll switch between when you click it.

While you have the bone icon selected, you’re in “Eat” mode. This lets you click a piece of food in your inventory, and then tap a spot in the habitat to place it. Your pet will run over and gobble it up. This, as you might expect, is how you keep its hunger and health stable.

If the tennis ball icon is selected, you’re in “Play” mode. Click a toy in the inventory and tap to place it down, and your pet will come over to check it out and then play with it.

touchbar pets 10
“Insider” the cat playing with a cardboard box.

Again, remember that food and toys are single-use – once you place it, it’ll be used and gone within moments.

Goals

The Goals menu gives you a list of tasks to accomplish, which you can check off with a star once they’re done. If you’ve ever played a game with achievements, this is similar.

Additionally, if you ever want to read the in-game tutorial again, enter this menu and uncheck the first “Tutorial” goal. As soon as you exit the Goals menu, you’ll be given the tutorial again.

touchbar pets 9
You won’t get any points for completing these goals, but they can be a fun challenge.

You can only have one pet in a habitat at a time. But feel free to adopt multiple pets – you can switch between them by restarting the app and clicking “Existing Pets” on the intro screen.

Note that to see your pet, you’ll need to be focused on the “Touchbar Pets” app with whatever monitor has the TouchBar. If you click another app, or move the app window to another monitor, your pet will disappear.

How to edit and customize the MacBook Touch Bar on your laptopHow to get emoji on your MacBook’s Touch Bar, and type with them in nearly any appHow to take a screenshot on a Mac computer in four different waysHow to mirror your iPhone screen to a Mac computer with QuickTime or AirPlay

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3 reasons why now is the worst time to buy a new Apple MacBook laptop

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Apple MacBook Air half open
Apple’s M1 MacBook Air

  • Now is the worst time to buy a new Apple MacBook laptop.
  • Apple is rumored to launch new MacBook Pro and Air models in the coming months.
  • Plus, we may see deals on current MacBook laptops during Amazon Prime Day and over the summer.
  • Check out our guide to the best MacBooks for more Apple laptop buying advice.

Thinking about buying a new MacBook? It’s probably in your best interest to hold off.

Unless you’re in immediate need of a new laptop, there are a few reasons why it’s a good idea to wait before purchasing a new Apple laptop. For one, Apple is expected to announce redesigned MacBook Pro models in the coming months that will come with more powerful processors among other improvements, according to Bloomberg.

Even if you’re eyeballing a MacBook Air or are fine with the current generation MacBook Pro, there are a few reasons why it’s worth waiting.

New MacBook Pros may be coming soon.

MacBook Pro 13-inch 2020

The biggest reason to wait on upgrading is simply because newer MacBook Pro laptops may be launching in the coming months.

Here’s a look at what’s in Apple’s pipeline according to Bloomberg

  • New high-end MacBook Pro (14-inch and 16-inch): Redesigned versions of the MacBook Pro with faster new chips, more ports, and MagSafe charging could debut as early as the summer, the report says. These new MacBook Pros would come in 14-inch and 16-inch variants, making it the first time since 2019 that Apple has introduced a new size option and updated its larger-sized MacBook Pro. The new Apple processor in these laptops is also expected to bring noteworthy gains in performance. The upgraded processor will reportedly come with a new 10-core design with the option for 16 or 32 graphics cores, the report says. That’s compared to today’s Apple M1, which includes eight computing cores and eight graphics cores. 
  • New MacBook Air: The MacBook Air could get an upgrade toward the end of 2021, according to Bloomberg. This laptop will reportedly come with a different new Apple processor that’s meant to be a direct successor to the M1. It’s also said to come with a refreshed design that’s likely similar to the new look we’re expecting to see on the updated MacBook Pro.
  • New MacBook Pro (13-inch): There’s also another smaller new MacBook Pro in the works that will be powered by the same processor as the MacBook Air, says Bloomberg. It’s unclear when this model could launch. 

There might be deals on Amazon Prime Day.

Amazon Prime logo

Amazon’s Prime Day sale is expected to kick off soon, and that usually means big discounts on electronics — including Apple’s MacBooks.

Last year, for example, the early 2020 MacBook Air was available at a $150 discount on Amazon Prime Day. So, even if you’re content with buying a current generation MacBook rather than waiting for the next update, it’s still best to hold off and see what deals might be available. 

Amazon hasn’t announced when Prime Day will take place in 2021, but it’s expected to happen sometime in June. Prime Day typically happens in July, with 2020 (and now possibly 2021) being the exception.

Back-to-school season usually means laptop sales, too.

MacBook Pro and Air

Apple offers discounted pricing for students and teachers year-round, but it usually runs a special back-to-school promotion in the summer.

Product pricing doesn’t usually change, but Apple will typically throw in a free pair of headphones with your Mac purchase during the promotional period. For last year’s promotion, which started in mid-June, Apple threw in a free pair of AirPods with a Mac purchase for qualifying customers. 

Although it’s not technically a new discount, waiting a bit longer before upgrading your Mac could mean you’ll get freebies that wouldn’t otherwise be available if you’re a student.

Regardless, other retailers like Best Buy typically offer back-to-school discounts on laptops over the summer, so it’s worth waiting to see if any MacBooks go on sale. 

 

Read the original article on Business Insider

Apple’s new iPad Pro is the best explanation for why we’ll never see a touchscreen MacBook

Apple event april iPad pro
  • The iPad Pro feels more like an answer to 2-in-1 Windows devices than Apple’s MacBook line.
  • It’s following the same evolution as hybrid Windows devices, especially when it comes to camera upgrades.
  • The iPad Pro is where we’re seeing forward-looking new tech from Apple, not the MacBook.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Apple’s iPad Pro has always seemed like an alternative to the laptop. After all, it has a laptop-sized screen, it’s designed to work best with a keyboard, and it now supports trackpad input.

But the company took that idea a step further on Tuesday with the introduction of its newest iPad Pro. The updated model comes with Apple’s powerful M1 chip – the same processor that drives its latest MacBook laptops – new mini-LED display technology with improved brightness and contrast on the larger model, 5G support, and Thunderbolt connectivity.

The announcement served as yet another sign that the iPad Pro is indeed Apple’s answer to the 2-in-1 Windows laptops that have dominated the PC industry over the last decade. It reinforces the idea that we’ll probably never see a touchscreen Mac, because that’s exactly what the iPad Pro has become.

The iPad Pro is following a similar path as new Windows laptops

Many of the upgrades we’ve been seeing on Windows laptops in recent months are also present on the new iPad Pro. These include better microphones and cameras for conference calls, thinner and lighter designs that run on processors based on the same basic architecture as those in our phones, and 5G integration.

Just look back to some of the most interesting laptop announcements from this year’s CES conference for evidence. Lenovo’s new IdeaPad 5G laptop, for example, comes with 5G and runs on Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8cx processor. That chip is built on the ARM architecture that’s commonly found in the processors that power smartphones and tablets, similar to Apple’s M1 chip.

HP’s Elite Dragonfly Max, meanwhile, comes with a 5-megapixel camera and four wide-range microphones that use artificial intelligence to optimize audio – an upgrade that was clearly intended for the work-from-home era.

Apple now has its own take on how to improve video conferencing as it relates to the iPad Pro. The tablet comes with a new feature called Center Stage, which leverages the iPad Pro’s new wide-angle front camera and machine learning to automatically keep you in the shot as you move. Since it runs on M1, it also uses Apple’s image signal processor, which greatly improves color and brightness as I found when reviewing the MacBook Air.

Of course, some of the additions on the newest model address the iPad Pro’s shortcomings when compared to laptops. The 2021 model comes with Thunderbolt support, for example, which enables support for more powerful accessories like faster storage devices.

And now that the iPad Pro runs on M1, there’s a chance that app compatibility between Mac and iPad will become easier to manage since they’re powered by the same chip architecture.

The iPad Pro is Apple’s vision for the future of computing

It’s unclear whether the iPad Pro has been a hit for Apple in terms of sales because the company doesn’t specify those details in its earnings reports. But what has become clear is that the iPad Pro is Apple’s vision for the future of the personal computer, despite the fact that it’s not technically a laptop.

It’s the iPad Pro, not the MacBook Pro or MacBook Air, that includes new sensors like Apple’s Lidar scanner, a new 12.9-inch display that’s brighter and packs in more pixels per inch, and features such as Center Stage. The MacBook Air and MacBook Pro were among the first computers to launch with Apple’s M1 chip, but the iPad Pro feels like the first computer that was really designed to take advantage of it.

The MacBook Air and Pro are excellent laptops, but they feel antiquated in some respects. Unlike modern Windows machines, they lack qualities like flexibility, touchscreens, nearly borderless displays, and facial recognition technology, just to name a few. The iPad Pro, however, has all of those features and more.

I don’t know that most people will be willing to give up their MacBooks for an iPad Pro just yet. And Apple doesn’t want you to; it’s clearly very invested in its Mac lineup. But I do think the iPad Pro is the device to keep an eye on if you really want to understand Apple’s perspective as it relates to the future of computing.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Apple’s latest computers are being targeted by a new type of malware – and 30,000 machines are already infected

apple m1 chip
Apple’s M1 chip is the target of a new type of malware.

In November 2020, Apple unveiled a sleight of new computers that were powered by the company’s first-ever in-house silicon: The Apple M1 chip.

By early 2021, it looks like Apple’s line of new computers has already been breached by a malicious set of software nicknamed “Silver Sparrow.” Just shy of 30,000 of Apple’s new computers have already been infected, according to the security firm Red Canary, primarily in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, France, and Germany.

The infected machines range from the Mac Mini desktop to the latest version of Apple’s laptops. Both the latest MacBook Air and 13-inch MacBook Pro are powered by M1 chips.

Notably, security researchers have yet to observe the Silver Sparrow malware actually doing anything harmful. 

“Though we haven’t observed Silver Sparrow delivering additional malicious payloads yet,” Tony Lambert, an analyst at Red Canary intelligence, wrote in a blog post. “Its forward-looking M1 chip compatibility, global reach, relatively high infection rate, and operational maturity suggest Silver Sparrow is a reasonably serious threat, uniquely positioned to deliver a potentially impactful payload at a moment’s notice.”

Though viruses are uncommon on Apple’s computers, a variety of other malicious software impacts Macs. The best way to protect yourself is to use free software from companies like Malwarebytes, which scans your computer and quarantines harmful software.

Got a tip? Contact Insider senior correspondent Ben Gilbert via email (bgilbert@insider.com), or Twitter DM (@realbengilbert). We can keep sources anonymous. Use a non-work device to reach out. PR pitches by email only, please.

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MacBook Touch Bar: The special touchscreens built into MacBook Pro models, explained

MacBook Pro Touch Bar
The Touch Bar is only available on the high-end MacBook Pro models.

  • The MacBook Touch Bar is a thin touchscreen above the number keys on MacBook Pro keyboards that offers versatile functionality.
  • To use a Mac’s Touch Bar and its library of digital icons, you can tap, swipe, and slide along the bar. 
  • Some Touch Bar buttons change depending on the app you’re using, while others remain constant.
  • You can open your Mac’s System Preferences menu to change some of the Touch Bar’s settings.
  • Visit Business Insider’s Tech Reference library for more stories.

Introduced to MacBooks in 2016, the Touch Bar is a small touchscreen located above the number keys on MacBook Pro keyboards.

The Touch Bar was built to replace the function keys – the numbered F1 through F12 keys that come standard on most keyboards. Despite this, the Touch Bar actually has a variety of features and tools that change depending on what app you’re using.

As of this writing, the Touch Bar is only available on 13- and 15-inch MacBook Pro models. However, this might change in the future.

How to use a MacBook Touch Bar

As its name suggests, Apple’s Touch Bar is activated by touch, and as such responds to gestures like tapping, swiping, and sliding. You can use these gestures to adjust the brightness and volume, activate Siri, access function keys, and more depending on the app you’re using.

For example, if you’re checking your email, you’ll see actions to reply or flag emails on the Touch Bar. Image editing apps might let you trip or crop with a touch. And a calculator will display the standard adding, subtracting, multiplying, and dividing symbols.

Try using different apps and watch how the Touch Bar changes to match them.

This Apple Support page shows which buttons pop up when you select a file in Finder (including Preview and Share) and when you view a picture in the Photos app (including Rotate and a slider to quickly navigate through photos).

apple macbook pro touch bar
Apps have specific Touch Bar commands.

An advantage of the Touch Bar is its ability to customize which buttons appear. For app-specific functions, you can customize the buttons to include commonly used tasks. To change your Touch Bar’s settings, open System Preferences, select “Keyboard” and the “Keyboard” submenu afterward, then choose and adjust among the variety of customizable options available for the Touch Bar.

And if something appears on the Touch Bar that you want to save for later, you can take a screenshot of just the Touch Bar.

The Control Strip

While the buttons located in the center of the Touch Bar will change depending on the app you’re using, the Control Strip, which is located on the right side, doesn’t change. Here, you’ll find buttons to activate Siri and adjust settings like brightness and volume. To expand the Control Strip, tap the left facing arrow button.

In the expanded view of the Control Strip, you can also adjust keyboard brightness, control video or music playback (with pause, play, rewind, and fast forward buttons), and more. 

Macbook Pro with touch bar
Once you get used to it, the Touch Bar is easy to use.

The function keys

Function keys (F1 to F12) are standard on most keyboards, meaning that you’ll likely still need them.

For Macs with a Touch Bar, the function keys are accessed via the Touch Bar. To find them, press and hold the Fn key or Globe key (whichever one you have) on your keyboard.

If this doesn’t work, go to your Mac’s keyboard preferences to ensure this shortcut is enabled. You can find your keyboard preferences in the “System Preferences” app.

Related coverage from Tech Reference:

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