Here’s Everything Apple Announced at “Spring Loaded”
Apple’s very first event of 2021 is upon us and it’s titled “Spring Loaded.” The event was likely given the dub after how much they’re announcing compared to previous spring events. In 2019, Apple spent most of the event on their Services sector — Apple Card, TV+, Arcade, and more. In 2018, Apple hosted an event from Chicago that focused solely on a new education iPad. This 2021 event will look much more like an Apple Event, full of announcements, products, and more.
This is a run-down of everything Apple announced today.
AirTags and a new purple iPhone 12
Apple’s first announcement of the day was a new spring-purple iPhone 12, in addition to the several colors already available. It will be available starting this Friday, April 23rd for preorder.
One of the most widely anticipated launches of 2021 is AirTags. After the huge success of Tile item trackers, it’s been rumored that Apple would launch their own version for the past several years. It’s the perfect new product for Apple since they already use Find My for consumers to track their own Macs, Apple Watch, and iPhones.
Like the iPhone 12 accessories of last fall, there are several different variants — like leather and other customization — to choose from. They will be available on April 30th and start at $29 each or four for $100.
The Apple TV has needed a refresh for a very long time. Using the remote is not as user friendly as other Apple products and the OS is much less fun to use when compared to Roku.
Apple began by premiering the season two trailer for Apple TV+ original Ted Lasso, which will be released on July 23rd.
For the Apple TV, they’re giving it a refresh with the A12 bionic chip, the same as the iPhone 12. The new Apple TV was also given new color balance settings that allow you to auto adjust the picture without diving into your TV’s settings. And yes, they did redesign the remote. Finally.
The remote now has an iPod-like touch wheel that still preserves the swipe gestures from its previous design. The outer ring clicks for better accuracy when choosing a direction. The “menu” button, which was basically “back” has been replaced with a more accurate icon. There’s also a separate power button to turn your TV on and off. In its previous design, a user could turn the TV on and off with only their Apple TV remote using the TV logo above the volume adjuster if they set their HDMI settings correctly. The new remote also moved the Siri button to the side.
120Hz refresh rate is not yet available for the new Apple TV. Previously, code in tvOS 14.5 suggested that Apple would add support for 120Hz, but that hasn’t happened. Instead, Apple may be saving it for tvOS 15 which is announced at WWDC this summer.
The fourth-generation Apple TV HD will still be available beginning in May with the new Siri remote. The remote itself can be purchased separately for $59.
Apple is currently amid a two-year transition between Intel and the company’s own SoC. Last fall, Apple released the new M1 Mac lineup: 13-inch MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, and Mac Mini.
Now the company is leaping forward with the iMac, which is seeing its biggest redesign in over ten years.
The most noticeable redesign element are the iPhone-like pastel colors its available in. Prior, most of Apple’s Mac lineup came in neutral colors like space gray and white. Now we’re seeing Macs in red, orange, green, purple, and blue.
Apple is replacing the 21-inch iMac with a 24-inch display. The new iMac is the first of any Mac with a 1080p FaceTime HD camera. Previously, they’d all been 720p or worse. The speakers and microphones were also given improvements and enhancements. It would’ve been nice to get the same effort from the M1 Mac Mini last fall. Hopefully the new speakers are nothing like those.
The new iMacs have 4 USB-C ports and support for a 6K display. The power connector has also been updated to feature Apple’s MagSafe technology. The ethernet cable has also been innovated to plug into the transfer brick, rather than directly into the all-in-one.
Magic Keyboard has been enhanced to feature Touch ID and a power button. However, with all of these upgrades, the price jumped from $999 to $1299.
Earlier this year, Apple announced that they will discontinue the iMac Pro.
Another rumor going into Apple’s next event was an iPad Pro with Mini-LED technology. Mini-LED is a type of backlighting for larger screens. It merges benefits of OLED but can offer higher brightness and improved power efficiency. Well, this technology is coming to the iPad lineup. Apple uses the same display in their monitor line, ProDisplay XDR. This one they’re naming “Liquid Retina XDR.” But there’s more big news.
Apple is bringing the M1 chip to the iPad Pro.
This enables faster performance, faster graphics, and even a configuration of 2TB of storage. That’s something never seen before in any tablet. But that’s how Apple wants to make the iPad Pro more like a computer rather than a tablet. In addition, Apple is giving the iPad Pro 5G connectivity for the first time. Speeds can be up to 4GB/s.
A new TrueDepth ultrawide camera allows Apple to introduce something called “center stage” which uses the ultrawide to keep the subject in the center of the frame at all times, panning with the subject.
Apple Card Family — Apple is bringing merging credit lines between spouses on a single Apple Card, as well as family use for anyone over the age of 13. Individuals can be given spending limits and more.
Apple Podcasts — Apple announced the redesign of their Podcasts app, giving each podcast its own unique channel with a header and customization from the user. They also announced a subscription tier for individual podcasts if users wish to listen ad-free.
Apple is in the middle of two wars: the privacy war with Facebook and battle over the App Store with Epic Games.
For context, both are similar, but very different. In Facebook’s case, it’s very easy to see Apple’s side. Apple is arguing against Facebook’s right to track and collect data on its users, right down to the supermarket. With iOS 14.4, Apple requires all app publishers to produce a “nutrition info”-like box of data either collected or used to track users. It’s not uncommon for apps to collect certain data to help improve its app, but the way Facebook and Google use this info is predatory.
For example, popular video platform TikTok uses your contact info (email and phone number) and other identifiers (your device) to track you across other websites and apps owned by other companies. It uses your location, contact info, browsing history, device ID, and how you use the app for advertising. Then it uses more info for analytics (ie, making decisions on how they should change development of the app). Think that’s invasive? Facebook’s app info page runs deep.
Your physical address, email address, financial info, phone number, contacts, search and browsing history, photos, videos, crash data and performance data, product interaction, and more are used for third-party advertising. Your purchase history and much of this data is used for developer advertising. Your health and fitness info, user content, audio, precise location, and *sensitive info* are used for analytics. Should I go on?
Apple’s argument is that users should be aware and able to opt-out of this behavior. Facebook argues that small businesses who rely on digital advertising to reach customers will suffer.
On the flip side, the battle with Epic Games is slightly more complex. Epic Games is arguing antitrust versus Apple, saying they have a monopoly on app stores for the iPhone. And you would be correct. The only way to download apps onto an iPhone, without jailbreaking it, would be to download it from the app store. Epic Games isn’t happy since Apple takes 30% profits from any purchases made in the app, although they reduced it to 15% if your revenue is low enough. Apple claims this fee is placed to help protect user privacy and maintain the quality of apps.
There is some water to this argument, Apple’s apps are of a higher quality in general compared to apps downloaded on Android’s operating system. Some still think the fee is way too high and most developers would agree.
Epic Games wants to set up their own shop. They’re using the antitrust argument and high fee rate to enable them to sell apps separately to Apple. They’ve already done this on PC and competed with Steam. Some developers have chosen to sell on Epic rather than Steam because the cut Epic takes is lower. Electronic Arts, similarly, owns Origin for PC but only sells EA games such as Battlefield and The Sims.
Either way, this event was important for Apple since both cases have huge implications on the tech giant’s revenues. Which announcement was the biggest surprise and which are you most excited for?