Additional info from Apple’s “Spring Loaded” Event

I thought I would add a few additional tidbits that have been made known after the Spring Loaded event. The topics will include some new information about iOS 14.5, AirTag, Apple TV, and Macs.

iOS 14.5

One tidbit that was made known is that iOS 14.5 is out today. iOS 14.5 supports AirTag, additional Siri voices, and the Xbox Series X|S and Playstation 5 controllers.

The second thing with iOS 14.5 is that there is a new feature, that may be very helpful for developers. If there are multiple beta versions available, both versions will be shown to the user, so they can decide which beta version they want to install. This will be a nice feature for developers.

The question that remains is whether or not you can downgrade a device to a previous version or not. I would suspect the answer is no.

Apple TV

While there is a lot of information about the new Apple TV 4K, one thing that was not mentioned before is that you can now get AppleCare+ on the Apple TV. You could purchase AppleCare previously, but this only covered two years of support.

Now with AppleCare+, you get up to 3 years of coverage for $29. This includes accidental damage coverage as well.

Macs

Similar to the change in AppleCare on the Apple TV, there are some AppleCare+ changes on the Mac now as well. You can now get AppleCare+ on a monthly basis. This means that you can get support beyond three years, which makes a lot of sense given that many people keep their Macs far beyond the previous two years of AppleCare support.

iMac 24-inch Tidbits

There is another tidbit specifically with the new 24-inch iMac. The power cord that goes into the iMac is a magnetic one. The magnets are quite strong because you do not want the power cord to accidentally come out of a running iMac, even if it has solid-state storage.

M1 Mac mini

Another update that Apple made is the additional option on the M1 Mac mini. now you can optionally choose a 10 gigabit Ethernet connection. This will cost an additional $100, but if you need the extra speed, it is an option. This was an option that was available on the previous generation Mac mini and it is good to see it make its way back to the current M1 Mac mini.

Magic Keyboard with Touch ID

One of the new features of 24-inch iMac is the option for a Magic Keyboard with Touch ID. While these will be available for the 24-inch iMac, the keyboards will actually work with other M1 Macs. This is most particularly useful with the M1 Mac mini.

As of now the keyboards are not available for purchase separately from the 24-inch iMac, but it is quite likely that they will be available for purchase separately at some point in the future. As an owner of an M1 Mac mini, I know I would like to use Touch ID with that Mac, so I cannot wait until these are available.

AirTag

When Apple announced the AirTag it was not known how the they would be powered. It turns out that the battery in each AirTag is replaceable. These batteries are not proprietary in anyway, in fact, they are ones that you can buy almost anywhere. The specific battery is a CR2032 batteries, so you can get them just about anywhere.

The next question is how long with the battery last. Apple says the batteries should last “over a year”.

iPad Accessories

Apple added a whole new accessory for the iPad, the Magic Keyboard. The Magic Keyboard allows you to have a full keyboard with a trackpad. The new 5th Generation 11-inch iPad Pro does not have any change in its dimensions. However, that is not the case with the 12.9-inch iPad Pro.

The 5th Generation 12.9-inch iPad Pro is a bit thicker than the 3rd and 4th generation 12.9-inch iPad Pro. What this means is that the original Magic Keyboard will not work on the 5th generation 12.9-inch iPad Pro. Therefore, if you are upgrading to a 5th generation 12.9-inch iPad Pro and you want to use the Magic Keyboard, you will need to purchase a new one, which is not cheap at $349.

Closing Thoughts

There are just a few of the other tidbits from Apple’s “Spring Loaded” event that could not be fit into the event itself. Well, they could have, if Apple wanted to have the event go longer than an hour.

Apple “Spring Loaded” Event Recap

Today Apple held their “Spring Loaded” event, and it was a packed event. There were a bunch of new products announced an update to Apple Card, a new podcast service, a new iPhone 12 Color, AirTags, a new iMac, a new Apple TV 4K, and a new iPad Pro. Let us look at each of these in turn.

Apple Card Family

Apple Card was introduced in August of 2019. Since its introduction each person has to apply for their own card and it cannot be shared. This arrangement means that there is discrimination in that the primary card holder is the one who builds credit, while a spouse or partner may not build up credit. This all changes with Apple Card Family. According to Apple:

Apple Card Family allows two people to co-own an Apple Card, and share and merge their credit lines while building credit together equally. Apple Card Family also enables parents to share Apple Card with their children, while offering optional spending limits and controls to help teach smart and safe financial habits. 

This is a great addition and will be available in May, but this will be U.S. only. It may expand to additional countries in the future, but there is no information on future expansion.

Apple Card Family with multiple users.

Apple Podcast

Audio content has always been a big draw for many users. People listen to audio in a variety of situations. This could be music, radio, audiobooks, or even podcasts. Apple has maintained a directory of podcasts since they first added podcast support to iTunes in June of 2005. Today Apple announced a big shift to podcasts, including Podcast subscriptions.

Starting in May, listeners in more than 170 countries and regions can sign up for premium subscriptions that include a variety of benefits curated by creators, such as ad-free listening, access to additional content, and early or exclusive access to new series. Listeners will be able to enjoy premium subscriptions from independent voices and premier studios…

All of this coincides with a redesigned Podcasts app which will allow users to discover shows similar to the ones they enjoy through the new Top Charts, Categories, and Advanced Search options. The new Podcasts app will be available with iOS 14.5 and the new Podcast Subscriptions will be available in May.

Apple Podcast Subscription service image.

Purple iPhone 12

While it has not been every year, Apple has consistently added a new color to its latest iPhone lineup in the spring. Typically it has been the PRODUCT(Red) phone, but there is already a PRODUCT(Red) the iPhone 12. Instead of red, Apple has introduced a new purple color. This is a similar shade of purple as the purple iPhone 11.

The purple iPhone 12 will be available for pre-order this Friday, April 23rd with delivery beginning on April 30th. The prices remain the same as the regular iPhone 12. You can also get an iPhone 12 mini in purple, if that is your preference.

iPhone 12 mini and iPhone 12 in Purple

AirTag

Air Tag back and front view

No matter how much we may try, we all end up losing things from time to time. Sometimes we can quickly find the items. However, in some cases it is not that easy. There have been accessories that allow you to find your missing items, and when Apple introduced their “Find My” network, many speculated when Apple would release their own trackers. Well, today Apple announced their tracking device, called AirTag.

AirTags are little devices that utilize the U1 chip in your iPhone 12 to be able to help locate items. AirTag utilizes the “Find My” network to allow anybody to locate your missing device anonymously without giving anyone your location.

Apple has some accessories for the AirTag, including leather key rings, loops, leather loops, and even third-party accessories from Belkin, like the secure holder and secure holder with key ring. Apple has partnered with Hermes to provide a Bag Charm, Luggage Tag, and Key Ring.

You can customize your AirTags by engraving them with up to 4 characters including emoji. This is done when you order them. Speaking of ordering, AirTag will be available for pre-order this Friday, April 23rd and they will begin arriving April 30th. You can purchase a single AirTag for $29, or a 4-pack for $99.

Apple TV 4K

Apple TV 4K (2021) and new Siri Remote

Apple is doubling down on their original TV content with shows like “The Morning Show”, “Wolfwalkers”, and “Ted Lasso”. One way to enjoy all of the content that you want is through the Apple TV, and in particular the Apple TV 4K. The last update to the Apple TV was in September of 2017. Today Apple announced a new Apple TV 4K.

The new Apple TV 4K includes an A12 Bionic chip, which provides even better graphics and processing. There are three other features with the Apple TV 4K. The first is a feature called high frame rate HDR.

High frame rate HDR

With A12 Bionic, Apple TV 4K now supports high frame rate HDR (High Dynamic Range) and Dolby Vision video, enabling fast-moving action at 60 frames per second (fps) to play more smoothly and appear more lifelike than ever before.

This should make any video that you watch even better. Beyond fast-moving video, this should also help with things like gaming. The Apple TV 4K supports the Playstation 5 controller as well as the Xbox Series X|S controller. However, controllers are not the only way to control items on the new Apple TV 4K. There is another way, and that is the next big feature, a redesigned Siri Remote.

When the Apple TV was originally introduced many did not like the Siri Remote. Some of the big issues with the Siri Remote were that the touch surface was a bit too sensitive and it was hard to orient the remote in low light situations. Apple has taken these, and additional issues into account with the new Siri Remote.

Siri Remote

Siri Remote (2021)

The new Siri Remote is an all aluminum design with a five-way directional pad, home button, back button, play/pause button, volume up and down buttons, and a mute button. Along with this, in the upper right corner, you will find a power button. The power button and mute button are designed to allow you to control your TV’s power and mute functionality without needing a separate remote. The other buttons are designed to provide you quick access to these functions.

The five-way directional pad will allow you to control the content even easier than before. Along with this, there is a circle around the five-way directional pad that will allow you to more easily jog through content to find the exact scene you are looking for.

The Siri Remote, as the name implies, still has Siri, but this is now a button on the right side of the remote. You can hold down the button and ask Siri your question and you will get a response just as in the past.

There is one last feature, and this one is a software feature called Color Balance.

Color Balancing

Each television set has its own characteristics. Some televisions can more accurately represent colors better than others. With the new Apple TV 4K you will be able to use your iPhone to provide the Apple TV with a better color balance so that it can compensate for any discrepancies in the color representation in your television. This is done by holding your iPhone up to your television when the Apple TV 4K is in Color Calibration mode. Once finished, the Apple TV 4K should be able to provide you with better colors while watching content.

The new Apple TV 4K is $179 for the 32GB model or $199 for the 64GB model. You can purchase a Siri Remote separately for $59 and it will work with previous versions of the Apple TV HD and Apple TV 4K. Lastly, there is an update Apple TV HD with the new Siri Remote. This is $149 for 32GB of storage.

All of these Apple TV-related products are available for pre-order on April 30th, with availability in the second half of May. Next, let us turn to a slightly different device, the iMac.

iMac

Last June at WWDC 20, Apple announced that they would be transitioning all of the Macs to their own Apple Silicon chips and this transition would take approximately two years. The first batch of devices, the MacBook Air, the lower-end 13-inch MacBook Pro, and the Mac min were all released with the M1.

Today Apple unveiled another new Mac with the M1, the smaller iMac. I use the term “smaller”, because the first change is that it is no longer a 21.5-inch device, instead it is a 24-inch model. This is possible through the reduction in bezels, which now are just a thin border around the edges, similar to the iPad Pro. In the bezel is a whole new camera system. More on that in a moment.

Screen

The higher 21.5-inch iMac models had a 4K screen. With the 24-inch screen the new resolution of 4480-by-2520 resolution at 218 pixels per inch, creates a 4.5K resolution for the screen.

There is a now a 1080p camera system, that will allow better FaceTime and other video calls. This is all handled through the M1 image signal processor. This will provide better low-light performance. To go along with the video, is a better microphone system, which Apple calls “studio-quality mics”, similar to the 16-inch MacBook Pro. The microphones will allow better sound due to cancelling out room noise and the like.

The new 24-inch iMac is powered by the M1. This design allows for a much thinner profile. The thinner profile is not just a bit thinner, but massively thinner. The screen is flat, like the iPad Pros and comes in at 11.5mm thick. This is made possible through a redesign of the cooling system, which allows air to be pushed through the system as well as a redesigned logic board, which is much smaller thanks to the M1 powering the entire system.

The screen is not the only new feature, the biggest, and likely most requested feature, is one that users like to customize and that is the color.

Colors

24-inch iMac Colors (2021)

There is another big change to the 24-inch iMac. When the original G3 iMac was introduced, it came in a bunch of colors. Since the Intel transition beginning in 2005, the iMac has only been available in three colors, White, Silver, and Space Gray. With the latter being on the iMac Pro only. The 24-inch iMac now comes in a variety of colors, up to seven different color options, depending on the model. The full list of color options are:

  • Blue
  • Green
  • Pink
  • Silver
  • Yellow (Higher end only)
  • Orange (Higher end only)
  • Purple (Higher end only)

The base and front of each iMac is a light shade of the color, whereas the back if a vibrant color. There are two different model types, just like the MacBook Air. There is an 8-core CPU, 7-Core GPU model, and an 8-Core CPU and 8-Core GPU model.

Internals

All models include an M1, a 24-inch screen, 256GB of storage, 8GB of unified memory, and two Thunderbolt/USB 4 ports. The higher-end model includes two USB-3 ports, and Gigabit Ethernet (configurable on the lower end model).

For options, on the 8-CPU/7GPU model you can configure a 512GB or 1TB storage option, and the aforementioned Gigabit Ethernet. On the 8-CPU/8-GPU model you can configure 512GB, 1TB or 2TB or storage.

The 24-inch iMac includes a 143 watt power brick, with a 2 meter/6 foot cable. This cable is a woven nylon cable, that is also color matched to the system. This is not the first time that Apple has used a woven nylon cable. In fact, Apple used one on the original HomePod as well as the HomePod mini. That is not the only feature of the power brick.

If you look at the back of the iMac you will notice that there is no Ethernet port, even on the higher-end model. That is because the ethernet port is in the power brick. The power port on the iMac can handle both power and data, and the Ethernet connection is handled over this cable. Apple indicated in the event that this will allow you to reduce the number of cables running to the computer, which was one of the goals of the original G3 iMac.

Next, let us look at the keyboard and mouse, there have been a couple changes there as well.

Magic Accessories

With the addition of colors, Apple is also including a color-matched accessories. These include the Magic Mouse, Magic Trackpad, and Magic Keyboard. The bottom portion of the Magic Mouse and Magic Trackpad are color matched, and white on the top. As is the case with the current Magic Mouse and Magic Keyboard, you need to power it with an included USB-C to lightning cable. Just like the power cable, this is color matched with the iMac.

Magic Trackpad colors

The Magic Keyboard is not to be left out of being of being color matched, because it is also color-matched with the iMac. However, there is a big change with the Magic Keyboard, beyond the color. There are new icons on the keys; well there are but that is not the big change. The big change is that the Magic Keyboard now has a Touch ID button, that replaces the eject button.

This is the same Touch ID that you see with the MacBook Air and MacBook Pros. For the first time you can use Touch ID on your iMac just like you can on a MacBook Air or MacBook Pro. This is a big advancement.

The lower-end iMac does not get the Magic Keyboard with Touch ID, however you can configure the iMac with that keyboard. The higher-end 24-inch iMac has the Magic Keyboard with Touch ID included in the box. There is also a Magic Keyboard with Number Pad and Touch ID that is can be configured on either 24-inch iMac model, should you need that model.

The 24-inch iMac will be available or pre-order on April 30th, with availability in the second half of May. The 24-inch iMac starts at $1299 for the 8-Core CPU/7-Core CPU model, and $1499 for the 8-Core CPU/8-Core GPU model. Next, let us look at one last new product, the iPad Pro.

iPad Pro

2021 iPad Pros

Last year Apple upgraded the iPad Pro with a couple of new features, an A12Z processor and a new camera system. The new camera system allowed developers to use LiDAR used within Augmented reality applications. This was a minor update over the 2018 iPad Pro. Today Apple released a new set of iPad Pros, however these are not small updates.

Processor

There are still two iPad Pro models, the 11-inch and the 12.9-inch iPad Pro. However, the processor within the two devices is radically different. In fact, it is not longer an A-series processor. It is now an M1 processor, the same one that is iMac, MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, and Mac mini. According to Apple this means:

The 8-core CPU design features the world’s fastest CPU cores in low-power silicon – delivering up to 50 percent faster CPU performance than A12Z Bionic. The 8-core GPU is in a class of its own, delivering up to 40 percent faster GPU performance. 

M1 Processor Image

With the iPad Pro running the M1, that means that it can support Thunderbolt/USB 4. The iPad Pro does just that. The USB port has been replaced with a Thunderbolt/USB 4 port. This means that you can use accessories like Thunderbolt storage as well as being able to power the Apple Pro Display XDR at its native resolution with the iPad Pro.

Since the original iPad in 2010, the iPad has had an option of cellular connectivity. The latest iPad Pros are no exception. The 11-inch and 12.9-inch iPad Pro models now have 5G connectivity as an option.

Camera

Along with the M1, there is also an improved Face ID camera. There is now a 12 Megapixel camera with a 122 degree field of view. This means that video calls will be even better than before. However, that is not the only feature with the camera. The camera will now automatically try to keep you in the center of the frame, so if you move to the side, the camera will move as well; up to its 122 degree limit. Similarly, if another person enters into the view, the camera will try to zoom out to include everyone in the shot. This is a nice feature which will make things a bit nicer overall.

The M1, Thunderbolt/USB 4 port, as well as the improved camera is included on both the 11-inch iPad Pro and the 12.9-inch iPad Pro. However, there is one feature that is specific to the 12.9-inch iPad Pro, a Liquid Retina XDR display.

Display

The Liquid Retina XDR display uses a new technology called Mini Light Emitting Diode, or Mini LED. Mini LED, as the name implies, these are very small LEDs. For comparison, in the previous iPad Pro models there were 72 LEDs. In the new 12.9-inch iPad Pro, there are over 10,000. These are broken down into dimmable regions so the color can be reproduced even more accurately than before. This also allows certain areas to be individually dimmed, again allowing even better color options.

The Liquid Retina XDR display has a standard brightness of 600 nits. However, at max brightness it is 1000 nits, and its peak is 1600 nits of brightness. It is not likely that the max brightness will occur very often.

Accessories

The 11-inch and 12.9-inch iPad Pro models support the 2nd Generation Apple Pencil. Along with this, there is a new Magic Keyboard. The Magic Keyboard is a slight change from the previous generation. There is a new color as well, White.

The 11-inch iPad Pro supports the existing Black Magic Keyboard and Smart Keyboard Folio. The 12.9-inch iPad Pro has a new Magic Keyboard, which will be $349.

Both the Magic Keyboard for the 5th Generation iPad Pro, as well as the White version of the 11-inch and 12.9-inch Magic Keyboard will be available for pre-order on April 30th.

Price

Both iPad Pro models came in a variety of storage sizes, 128GB, 256GB, 512GB, 1TB, and 2TB options. The 2TB option is new this year. The 128GB, 256GB, and 512GB, models all have 8GB of memory, while the 1TB and 2TB models have 16GB of memory. This is the first time that Apple has indicated the amount of memory in an iPad.

The 11-inch iPad Pro has the following cost breakdown of Wi-Fi and Wi-Fi + Cellular

  • 128GB – $799 / $999
  • 256GB – $899 / $1099
  • 512GB – $1099 / $1299
  • 1TB – $1499 / $1699
  • 2TB – $1899 / $2099

The 12.9-inch iPad Pro has the following cost breakdown of Wi-Fi and Wi-Fi + Cellular

  • 128GB – $1099 / $1299
  • 256GB – $1199 / $1399
  • 512GB – $1399 / $1599
  • 1TB – $1799 / $1999
  • 2TB – $2199 / $2399

The 12.9-inch model is more expensive this year, as is cellular. Cellular costs an addition $200, whereas last year it was $149. You can pre-order an 11-inch or 12.9-inch iPad Pro on April 30th, with availability being the second half of May.

Closing Thoughts

Overall, what Apple announced definitely lived up to the name of the event being “Spring Loaded”.

The event was full of new products including Apple Card family, which allows two co-owners of a card to build credit equally as well as providing limits for children. This will be available in May. Apple also introduced a new Podcast subscription service, that will allow listeners to support their favorite podcasters. This feature will be available in May. Apple also unveiled a new iPhone 12 mini and iPhone 12 color, purple. This will be available for pre-order on Friday with delivery beginning on April 30th.

Along with the iPhone, Podcast, and Apple Card, Apple unveiled a new product, AirTag. The AirTag is a way of being able to locate missing items. AirTag will cost $29 each or $99 for a 4-pack. These will be available for pre-order this Friday for delivery beginning April 30th.

The new AirTag is not the only new product, there is a new Apple TV 4K replete with a new Siri Remote. The new Apple TV 4K has an A12 Bionic processor. The A12 Bionic also allows for the new Color Calibration feature and high frame rate HDR to allow the best television watching experience. The new Siri Remote is aluminum with a new button layout and the dedicated Siri button is now on the side. There are new power and mute buttons that will operate your existing television. The Apple TV, and Siri Remote, will be available for pre-order on April 30th, with availability in the second half of May.

Possibly the biggest product release is the new 24-inch iMac. The iMac has an improved Face Time camera and thinner bezels. The new 24-inch iMac is significantly thinner, 11.5mm thin. The speakers have been improved as well. The 24-inch iMac can come in 7 different colors and there are three configurations. The 24-inch iMac starts at $1299, can be configured up to 2TB of storage and 16GB of RAM. The iMac will be available or pre-order on April 30th, with availability beginning in the second half of May.

The last new item that Apple released was a new set of iPad Pro. Both models include an M1, providing even more performance over the previous generation. The iPad Pro models can come in 128GB, 256GB, 512GB, 1TB, or 2TB. There is a Wi-Fi and Wi-Fi + Cellular models. The Wi-Fi + Cellular models cost $200 more than the Wi-Fi models, but the cellular is now 5G. The 12.9-inch iPad Pro has a new Liquid Retina XDR Display that uses Mini LED technology. The iPad Pro models will be available for pre-order on April 30th, and will be available in the second half of May.

All of the new products today are great upgrade, or addition, to Apple’s product line up. While there is nothing available to purchase today, there are a couple of items available for pre-order this Friday, April 23rd, while the remainder are available for pre-order on April 30th.

Source: Podcasts, Apple TV 4K, iMac, iPad Pro

Apple Announces “Spring Loaded” Event

Today, Apple announced that they will be holding a “Spring Loaded” event. The event will be streamed on April 20th at 10 am Pacific Time. The invitation states “Please join us for a special Apple Event from Apple Park.” This makes me think that it will be an event similar to the fall events.

While there has been speculation that there would be an event this spring, it looks like Siri let it slip that it was going to be next Tuesday. Here is a screenshot of Siri’s response my Mac, as well as another one from my iPhone, when I asked “Siri, when is the next Apple Event”.

Response from Siri on a Mac when asking "When is the next Apple Event". The response was ""The special event is on Tuesday, April 20, at Apple Park in Cupertino, CA. You can get all of the details on Apple.com"
Response from Siri on an iPhone when asking "When is the next Apple Event". The response was ""The special event is on Tuesday, April 20, at Apple Park in Cupertino, CA. You can get all of the details on Apple.com"

Siri’s response is “The special event is on Tuesday, April 20, at Apple Park in Cupertino, CA. You can get all of the details on Apple.com”. As is the case with other Apple events I will post my predictions for what I think we will see at the event, so stay tuned for that.