The leaks, rumors, and teasers have finally come to fruition courtesy of Apple’s Spring Loaded event. This could have very well been the last pre-recorded Apple event, and it was apparent that the company went all-out in terms of production.
Rumors have been swirling for months, as we originally expected to see an event back in March. Then, Apple pulled a 180 on everyone and announced today’s Spring Loaded event. We were greeted with quite a few new products, including new iPad Pro models, a new iPhone, along with updates to the Apple TV, and even a redesigned iMac.
- Apple Services
- Apple AirTag
- Apple TV 4K
- All-new iMac
- 2021 iPad Pro
In true Apple fashion, the company kicked off today’s event providing a bit of focus on the company’s various services. After speaking for a few minutes in regards to the company’s continued commitment to reducing our carbon footprint, Tim Cook jumped right in.
The first announcement came for those who either are using or have been considering signing up for Apple Card. Cook explained that this is likely the “most successful credit card launch ever”, and that the company is taking a different look at how to “reinvent the way credit cards work”.
With Apple Card Family, you are now able to share your card with your spouse, and can even merge accounts if you both already have accounts. The Card can also be shared with anyone in your family over the age of 13, while you are able to create and set optional spending limits for your members.
In recent weeks, we have heard rumblings about a potential launch of “Apple Podcasts+”. That’s pretty much exactly what we got with Apple Podcasts Subscriptions. The Apple Podcasts app is being completely redesigned, with all-new sections for your favorite podcasts.
Premium subscriptions will be introduced, providing ad-free listening, potential additional content, or early/exclusive access to new content. Some of the studios available when Podcasts Subscriptions launches are as follows:
- The Athletic
- Sony Music Entertainment
- The Washington Post
- And more.
The newly redesigned app will be coming along with the release of iOS 14.5, which is slated to arrive next week. There’s a new Search tab, which provides access to the Top Charts and categories. There’s even a new Smart Play button to automatically start listening to those podcasts that have a backlog of unplayed entries.
As you would expect, you’ll be able to share any podcast subscriptions with Family Sharing. The update will arrive in more than 170 countries and regions sometime in May.
One announcement that we weren’t expecting is for the iPhone 12 and 12 mini. Apple has introduced an all-new Purple color option for both models. Nothing has changed internally, and the pricing remains the same for both the 12 and 12 mini.
Apple stated that you’ll be able to pre-order this new color on April 23rd, with availability to begin on April 30th. There are an array of new case options arriving as well, all of which are available starting today. Here’s what you can get:
- MagSafe Leather Case or Leather Sleeve
- Deep Violet
- Silicone Case
- Capri Blue
- Leather Wallet
And because Apple is gearing up to launch iOS 14.5 next week, that’s what the new Purple edition of the iPhone 12 and 12 mini will ship with.
The first mention of a potential AirTag launch started all the way back with the release of iOS 13. Images were discovered revealing what the AirTags would look like, along with some idea of how they would be integrated with the Find My app on iOS and macOS devices.
Today, Apple lifted the veil on AirTag, which is a small and elegantly designed tracker that can be attached to a wide array of accessories. You can use these with everything from your backpack or purse to your keys or in your wallet.
The AirTag is small and lightweight, being made from polished stainless steel and featuring IP67 water and dust resistance. There’s a built-in speaker that will play a sound to help you locate your missing items. And the top cover is removable allowing you to quickly and easily replace the battery when the time comes.
Setting up AirTag
As you would expect from an Apple accessory, setting up the AirTag is as easy as bringing it close to your iPhone and tapping Connect. From there, you can assign it to an item, while naming it before placing it with said item. The AirTags themselves are customizable, with Apple providing free engraving with either text and/or one of 31 different emoji.
After the AirTag has been set up, it will appear under the “Items” tab within the Find My app. Users can view their items current or last known location on a map, and then can use the app to play a sound if within Bluetooth range. Additionally, you can use Siri to help you find the missing item.
In order to make this possible, Apple is using its U1 Ultra Wideband technology for Precision Finding with compatible devices. This uses the U1 chip along with input from your iPhone’s camera, accelerometer, gyroscope, and ARKit to guide you to your AirTag.
Apple AirTags will be available for purchase starting on April 30th. Pricing begins at $29 for a single AirTag, or you can purchase a four-pack of AirTags for $99.
Apple TV 4K
It’s been almost four-long-years since the Apple TV 4K was introduced, and today, we have an all-new updated option. Along with AirTags, a new Apple TV has been rumored for the past year and a half or so, but the wait is finally over.
Instead of opting for a new moniker, Apple is reusing Apple TV 4K for this new product. And while it may look the same on the outside, there’s a whole lot of power hidden underneath the matte and glossy casing.
All new processor
Powering the Apple TV 4K is Apple’s A12 Bionic SoC, which was introduced alongside the iPhone XS, and is currently powering the most recent base-model iPad. With this chipset, your Apple TV 4K will be capable of providing HDR playback with Dolby Vision and a high frame rate. You’ll be able to enjoy 4K content at up to 60fps, and Apple is already working with some video providers to ensure that the content library will be there.
An all-new Color Balance feature has been introduced, which uses the light sensor in your iPhone to calibrate the color correctly. You’ll simply need to enter the Color Balance mode on your iPhone, then follow the on-screen prompts. When complete, your TV will be color balanced to “industry-standard specifications”.
Updated Siri Remote
While there really weren’t too many complaints in terms of the old ATV4K’s performance, one complaint was found with the old Siri Remote. The combination of glass and aluminum is elegant, but it’s not the most intuitive remote to use for anyone. Those frustrations can finally be put to rest with the redesigned Siri Remote.
Machined from a single piece of aluminum, you’ll be able to control your Apple TV and your TV itself. There’s a Side Button (just like the iPhone), which acts as your Siri activation. The new click pad offers five-way navigation and is touch-enabled, allowing you to use a circular gesture while watching content to scrub through the movie or show.
The Apple TV 4K (2021) will launch be available for pre-order starting on April 30th and is priced at either $179 for the 32GB model or $199 for the 64GB version. Apple will launch the new TV 4K in the 2nd half of May.
The day has finally arrived where we are beginning to see more than just performance benefits from the M1 processor. Apple introduced an all-new iMac featuring a complete redesign from the ground up.
At first glance, this new iMac looks like a more colorful rendition of the Pro Display XDR that launched alongside the Mac Pro a couple of years ago. There are some fun and vibrant colors available to choose from including the following:
Surprisingly, you won’t find a “Space Gray” or even a matte black option here. But you will be able to match your iPhone, Apple Watch, and iMac with the new Blue color.
The iMac sports a 24-inch 4.5K Retina display, providing a resolution of 4480 x 2520. Brightness maxes out at 500 nits, which may seem low, but it isn’t like you’ll be using this in direct sunlight or anything. Plus, there’s a new anti-reflective coating to help keep your display from catching any harsh glares.
Performance and configurations
Powering the iMac is Apple’s M1 processor, which launched last year. Sadly, we are still left wondering what’s to come for a potential M1X or M2 processor. It’s likely that Apple is saving those for a larger 27-inch iMac or an iMac Pro refresh.
With the M1, Apple promises up to 85% faster performance when compared to the previous 21.5-inch model. This includes double the graphics performance, and three times faster machine learning.
There are several different configurations to choose from:
- 8-core CPU / 7-core GPU
- Two Thunderbolt / USB 4 ports
- 8GB RAM
- 256GB of storage
- 8-Core CPU / 8-core GPU
- Two Thunderbolt / USB 4 ports
- Two USB 3 ports
- Gigabit Ethernet
- 8GB RAM
- 256GB / 512GB storage
While the 24-inch display may be a bit small for some, the redesign essentially adds a 24-inch display in the same footprint of the 21.5-inch previous generation iMac. Apple upgraded the camera, microphone, and speaker system headlined by the new 1080p FaceTime HD camera.
Using the M1’s neural engine and Image Signal Processor, your videos will computationally be enhanced. So it doesn’t matter what time of the day it is, or what room you’re in, the iMac’s camera will look great.
Upgraded Microphones and Speakers
There’s a three microphone array onboard with beam-forming sound to cut down on the background noise. This system has also been engineered to reduce feedback from the iMac itself. Although you likely won’t run into any issues there as the iMac is said to only produce up to 10 decibels of sound.
Under the hood, you’ll find six total speakers with dual subwoofers paired with high-performance tweeters. With this new speaker system, Spatial Audio makes its way to the iMac, after seeing much success with the AirPods Pro and AirPods Max.
The fun doesn’t stop there, as Apple has introduced some new accessories that will pair quite nicely. First, we have color-matching keyboards, Apple Mouse, and Apple Magic Trackpad. The Trackpad has been slightly redesigned along with the Magic Keyboard with rounded edges.
And with the new Magic Keyboard, you’ll find 10-keyless or full-size options with colors to match. But the real story here is that Apple is integrating Touch ID into select keyboard models to quickly unlock your iMac.
Pricing for the iMac starts at $1299 for the 8-core CPU / 7-core GPU model and goes up to $1499 for the 8-Core / 8-Core variant. The iMac will be available for pre-order starting on April 30th before launching in the 2nd-half of May.
2021 iPad Pro
While it was great that we were provided with so many new products and updates during Apple’s Spring Loaded event, the final product was highly anticipated. The iPad line last saw a refresh with the new iPad Air late last year, but the iPad Pro was updated last Spring along with the introduction of the Magic Keyboard.
M1-powered iPad Pros
If you’ve been waiting with bated breath for an M1-powered iPad, the wait is FINALLY over. Apple introduced two new versions of the iPad Pro with the 11-inch and 12.9-inch models being updated.
With the M1 processor, you’ll see a performance increase of 50% over last year’s model, thanks to the 8-core CPU and 8-Core GPU. This also helps to provide more than 40% faster graphics performance, along with providing console-quality graphics for your favorite iPad games.
Apple added faster storage options, with speeds being doubled, and an all-new 2TB option. One of the key rumors surrounding the new iPad was the integration of Thunderbolt. It’s finally coming to both models, providing 4x more bandwidth.
External Displays and 5G
The new iPad Pros are also “fixing” the issues when connecting to external monitors, as Thunderbolt allows for external display support up to 6K. This means that you could pair up the iPad Pro and Magic Keyboard with Apple’s best display and take advantage of every pixel.
As expected, 5G connectivity is coming to both iPad Pro sizes. But instead of being limited to the slower sub-6Ghz 5G network, we also have mmWave 5G for faster connectivity. Just like the iPhone 12 line, this means speeds up to 3.5Gbps for sub-6Ghz and up to 4Gbps for mmWave.
Considering just how many people use the iPad Pro and its camera system, Apple saw fit to upgrade the cameras in the new model. The LiDAR scanner will return, which supports motion tracking and Smart HDR 3. There’s also an all-new True Depth selfie camera, capable of taking Portrait Mode shots.
Apple also added a new 12MP ultra-wide camera that has been designed specifically for the iPad. This camera sports a 122-degree Field of View, along with Center Stage. With Center Stage, your iPad uses your camera and machine learning to ensure that you are always in the center. The lens will automatically zoom in and out based on what you’re doing and if others jump into view.
Liquid Retina XDR Display
That’s everything that you’ll find in terms of similarities between the 11-inch and 12.9-inch 2021 iPad Pro models. The 12.9-inch model specifically is seeing a display upgrade to Apple’s new Liquid Retina XDR display. This provides the same quality and performance found in the Pro Display XDR on a smaller display.
The 12.9-inch iPad Pro will reach 1000nits of brightness with regular usage, and up to 1600 nits of peak brightness. Combine this with HDR10 and Dolby Vision support, and you have one of the best 13-inch displays we’ve ever seen. But the best part is that Apple isn’t sacrificing the size or weight, as the iPad Pro weighs just 1.5-pounds and measures 6.4mm thin.
Pricing and availability
Here’s a pricing breakdown for each model:
- 11-inch iPad Pro (2021)
- 128GB – $799 / $999 (cellular)
- 256GB – $899 / $1099
- 512GB – $1099 / $1299
- 1TB – $1499 / $1699
- 2TB – $1899 / $2099
- 12.9-inch iPad Pro (2021)
- 128GB – $1099 / $1299 (cellular)
- 256GB – $1199 / $1399
- 512GB – $1399 / $1599
- 1TB – $1799 / $1999
- 2TB – $2199 / $2399
It’s also important to note that 1TB and 2TB models of both of these devices feature 16GB of RAM. That’s double the amount for the other storage options. And it could have something to do with a potential future release of Final Cut Pro X for the iPad Pro.
Keyboard compatibility remains the same as last year’s model. you’ll be able to use the Magic Keyboard or Smart Keyboard folio, so you won’t have to upgrade the keyboard. However, Apple is introducing an all-new White color option for the Magic Keyboard, priced at $299 for the 11-inch model, and $349 for the 12.9-inch version.
The new iPad Pro line will be available for pre-order starting on April 30th before launching sometime in May.
Whew. This is one of the largest Apple events in recent memory, as we will be seeing the launch of quite a few new products. Even with rumors suggesting that the new 12.9-inch iPad Pro would be delayed, it seems that everything is full-steam ahead.
Now that Apple’s Spring Loaded event has concluded, we begin to set our eyes on WWDC ’21. Let us know what you think about today’s announcements and if you’re planning on ordering anything for yourself when these become available.
Andrew is a freelance writer based on the East Coast of the US.
He has written for a variety of sites over the years, including iMore, Android Central, Phandroid, and a few others. Now, he spends his days working for an HVAC company, while moonlighting as a freelance writer at night.