Apple just updated its thinnest, lightest MacBook -- here's what's new

Apple macbookAppleThe Apple MacBook (2016).

Apple is giving its 12-inch MacBook laptop a spec bump.

The company said at its annual WWDC keynote on Monday that it is refreshing the ultra-thin notebook with Intel’s latest “Kaby Lake” processors, which should bring slight boosts to speed and battery life.

Along with that, Apple also mentioned the notebook would get a 50% bump in performance to its solid-state drive storage.

Apple didn’t mention any other changes beyond that. It seems you’ll still be getting a very slim, nicely-built chassis with a high-resolution “Retina” display and a lone USB-C port.

Apple still pitches the MacBook to people who are ok with good enough performance in a package that’s easy to take on the go. If you want an Apple laptop that’s powerful enough to do heavier work, you’ll have to look to the MacBook Pro.

Apple did not specify exactly which Kaby Lake processors are coming to new MacBook models during the keynote, but it’s highly likely to use Intel’s lower-power “Y-series” chips. Those aren’t as strong as the more traditional Intel Core chips you’d see in a MacBook Pro — or some Windows laptops around the MacBook’s size — but they have generally been improved improved to the point of respectability over the past couple of years.

Tim Cook macbook (smaller)GettyApple CEO Tim Cook.

Kaby Lake is a minor upgrade over Intel’s previous generation of chips. It brings minor gains in overall performance and power efficiency. It does work more smoothly with 4K video, but since the MacBook’s display isn’t that sharp, those increases will likely go unnoticed by the majority of buyers.

Two pain points critics have had with the MacBook are its webcam, which shoots at a grainy 480p resolution, and its keyboard, which is generally flatter and less clickable than other notebooks, but was recently updated to be more responsive with the MacBook Pro. Apple did not specify if these have been updated, either.

One thing that isn’t changing is price: The MacBook will still start at $US1,299 for a model with Intel’s lowest-end Core m3 processor. More powerful configurations will start at $US1,599. That remains pricey for the relatively limited power and ports it’s packing; comparable Windows laptops typically go for less.

But with the Mac becoming less and less relevant to Apple’s bottom line, the company’s laptop business seems to be focusing exclusively on the high-end.

This story is developing. Check back for updates.

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