Apple held its annual launch event today, virtually once again, and introduced a new of new innovations like Apple AirTag, along with updated versions of everything from the iPad to the Apple TV 4K, iMacs, and new colours for iPhones. Here are the highlights
Apple AirTag iPhone Accessory
Marking Apple’s first Find My ecosystem products, and posing some stiff competition from companies like Tile, AirTag is an iPhone accessory that allows owners to locate lost items using the Apple Find My app. Attach the AirTag to a valuable item like a handbag, backpack, keychain, camera strap, or gym bag, for example, and it can tap into the Find My network to locate the item if you have lost or misplaced it. Location data is kept private and anonymous, with end-to-end encryption.
AirTags are round in shape and, made of stainless steel, are IP67 water and dust resistant. Each has its own built-in speaker to play a sound to help you locate keys that are in your other jacket pocket in the closet or in your jeans in the hamper. You can also ask Siri to find an item to make the AirTag ring. If the item is out of Bluetooth range, like a wallet you forget at the local patio or gym bag you forgot at the office, you’ll be able to pinpoint the last known location on a map using the Find My network of users (in countries where the service is available). Put the AirTag in Lost Mode and you will get a notification once the item is in range or whenever it has been located. If another iPhone user finds your item, they can tap it using their smartphone or any other NFC-enabled device and be taken to a website that advises them of your contact phone number, if you have provided one.
The removable cover makes it easy to pop in a new battery when needed. Set up is similar to AirPods: just hold the AirTag close to your iPhone and it will automatically connect. Once connected, you can assign different AirTags to different items, like Car Keys or Kids Backpack, or make a custom name, like Spare Shed Keys.
AirTags will be available starting April 30 (pre-order as early as April 23) both individually for $39 each and in four-packs for $129. When purchasing from the Apple Website, you can also personalize them with free engraving, selecting text and choosing from 30 emoji. Accessories will be available to use with the AirTags, including a Polyurethane Loop, Leather Loop, and Leather Key Ring. The enclosure of each accessory fits securely around AirTag.
Third-party products and accessories can also add support for finding with the new Find My network accessory program. Through the program, device and product manufacturers can now build finding capabilities directly into their products using the advanced Find My network, allowing customers to use the Find My app to locate other important items in their lives. Details about the program can be found at mfi.apple.com.
Apple iPad Pro
The newest iPad Pro has the new M1 chip, 12.9″ Liquid Retina XDR display, 5G, and support for Thunderbolt. A new 12MP ultra-wide front camera enables Center Stage, a new feature that automatically keeps users perfectly framed for more engaging video calls. The new iPad Pro is available to order beginning Friday, April 30, on apple.com, and will be available in the second half of May. Models will come with an up to 2TB storage capacity. Also featured is an ISP and LiDAR Scanner, Magic Keyboard in a new white finish, iPad PS 14.5 (available starting next week to other iPad owners as well), and more. The enclosure is also now made using 100% recycled aluminum, and 100% recycled rare earth elements are used in the magnets of the speakers and enclosure.
The new iPad Pro is available to order beginning Friday, April 30, and in Apple Store locations in the second half of May. It will come in 11-inch and 12.9-inch versions in silver and space grey and 128GB, 256GB, 512GB, 1TB, and 2TB configurations. Pricing starts at $999 and goes up to $1,599 for the Wi-Fi + Cellular 12.9″ version.
The new Apple iMac has an M1 chip and a 24″ 4.5K Retina display with 11.3 million pixels, an anti-reflective coating, True Tone technology, and 500 nits of brightness. At just 11.5mm thin, the compact computer has a 1,080p FaceTime HD camera, studio-quality mics, and a six-speaker sound system, it’s ideal for video meetings and calls. For the first time, Touch ID is now also available for the iMac for easy logins or switching user profiles among family members.
There are now thousands of popular universal apps that take full advantage of M1 and macOS Big Sur, including Photoshop, Twitter, Microsoft Office, Quicken, Slack, Affinity Publisher, Zappos, 1Password, and DaVinci Resolve, with more arriving every week.
Customers can choose from three models of Magic Keyboard with aluminum enclosures that are colour-matched to iMac. Every iMac features two Thunderbolt ports with support for up to a 6K display, like Apple Pro Display XDR, and Wi-Fi 6. The 8-core iMac configuration offers two additional USB-C ports and also features a 1Gbps Ethernet port in the power adapter, allowing for a less cluttered desktop.
The new 24-inch iMac is available to order beginning Friday, April 30 and will begin arriving to customers and be available in select Apple Store locations and through Apple Authorized Resellers beginning in the second half of May. iMac with 7-core GPU starts at $1,599 and $1,539 for education, and is available in green, pink, blue, and silver. It features an 8-core CPU, 8GB of unified memory, 256GB SSD, two Thunderbolt ports, Magic Keyboard, and Magic Mouse.
iMac with 8-core GPU starts at $1,849 and $1,729 for education, and is available in green, yellow, orange, pink, purple, blue, and silver. It features an 8-core CPU, 8GB of unified memory, 256GB SSD, two Thunderbolt ports, two additional USB 3 ports, Magic Keyboard with Touch ID, Magic Mouse, and Ethernet.
Apple TV 4K
The next-generation Apple TV 4K comes with a new Siri Remote and features new colour balance technology along with high frame rate HDR and Dolby Vision. At the heart of the new Apple TV 4K is the A12 Bionic chip that provides a significant boost in graphics performance, video decoding, and audio processing, says Apple. The Siri Remote makes it easier to watch shows and movies on Apple TV with intuitive navigation controls. Together with tvOS, Apple TV 4K works seamlessly with Apple devices and services.
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. Apple is working with leading video providers around the world, including FOX Sports, NBCUniversal, Paramount+, Red Bull TV, and Canal+, as they begin to stream in high frame rate HDR. And with high frame rate support in AirPlay, videos shot on iPhone 12 Pro can be displayed in full 60-fps Dolby Vision on the new Apple TV 4K.
Through a colour balance process, Apple TV works with iPhone and its advanced sensors to improve a television’s picture quality, says Apple. Apple TV uses the light sensor in iPhone to compare the colour balance to the industry-standard specifications used by cinematographers worldwide. Using this data, Apple TV automatically tailors its video output to deliver much more accurate colours and improved contrast, without customers ever having to adjust their television settings.
The new Siri Remote features an innovative clickpad control that offers five-way navigation for better accuracy and is also touch-enabled for fast directional swipes. The outer ring of the clickpad supports an intuitive circular gesture that turns it into a jog control, which Apple says is perfect for finding a scene in a movie or show. With the one-piece aluminum design, the new Siri Remote fits more comfortably in a user’s hand.
The new Siri Remote also has a power button that controls a TV’s power, and another for mute. Using Siri, customers can search for specific shows or movies, control smart home accessories, check sports scores or the weather, and more.
Apple TV can be used with Apple TV+, Apple Music, Apple Fitness+, Apple Arcade, and Apple AirPlay; and can also be used as a home hub to control HomeKit accessories and do things like view HomeKit video cameras and doorbell notifications on the television screen.
With multiuser support on Apple TV 4K, family members can enjoy their own personalized recommendations for shows, movies, and music, access their purchased apps in the App Store, or play games on Apple Arcade.
The new Apple TV 4K will be available starting at $229 beginning Friday, April 30 with official availability in the second half of May. The Siri Remote will be sold separate for $69 or bundled with the Apple TV, with pricing TBA. For the first time, AppleCare+ will be available for Apple TV, providing three years of technical support and additional hardware coverage, including up to two incidents of accidental damage protection every 12 months.
Apple iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 mini in Purple
It might sound like an insignificant launch, bur for fellow purple lovers out there, they will be excited to know that you can now get the popular iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 mini in a purple finish. Apple says the colour “beautifully accentuates the flat aluminum edges” of the device.
Pre-order either device in purple starting April 23 with official availability beginning Friday, April 30. There will also be a matching MagSafe Leather Case or Sleeve in Deep Violet, a Silicone Case in Capri Blue, Pistachio, Cantaloupe, or Amethyst, or a Leather Wallet in Arizona. Pricing for the iPhone 12 starts at $1,129 and for the 12 mini at $979.
Apple Podcast Subscriptions
If you love Apple Podcasts, you can now enjoy new premium subscriptions, which will afford access to more curated content from creators, ad-free listening, and early or exclusive access to new series. Independent voices and premier studios offering such content include Tenderfoot TV, Pushkin Industries, Radiotopia from PRX, QCODE, NPR, the Los Angeles Times, The Athletic, Sony Music Entertainment, and more.
Also next month, listeners will be able to discover channels, which are groups of shows curated by creators with unique titles, descriptions, and artwork. Just as they can with shows, listeners will be able to browse free channels, which make it easy to find more shows from favourite creators, as well as paid channels and channels that provide additional benefits for subscribers.
With iOS 14.5, listeners can access a redesigned Apple Podcasts app featuring an enhanced Search tab that provides quick access to Top Charts and categories. Apple Podcasts also features new pages for every show and episode to make it easier to follow, listen, and share. The new Smart Play button helps listeners automatically start episodic shows from the latest episode and serialized shows from the beginning of each series. Listeners can also now save individual episodes, which are downloaded for offline playback, making it easy to bookmark podcasts to listen to later from Library.
The new Apple Podcasts for Creators website helps creators learn more about podcasting, stay informed about the latest news and features, and explore in-depth guides with best practices. Starting today, all creators can access an updated Apple Podcasts Connect dashboard, which has new features that make it easier to manage shows on Apple Podcasts, including the ability to edit metadata, schedule and manage show availability, organize shows into channels, manage multiple users and roles, and learn how listeners are engaging with their shows through new performance metrics and visualization tools. From Apple Podcasts Connect, creators can enrol in the new Apple Podcasters Program, which provides access to all the tools needed to build and distribute premium subscriptions on Apple Podcasts.
Apple Podcasts Subscriptions will be available to listeners in over 170 countries and regions in May. Specific software requirements for Apple Podcasts Subscriptions and channels will be shared ahead of availability.
Pricing for each subscription is set by creators and billed monthly by default. Creators can additionally offer annual billing, which subscribers can manage from their Apple ID account settings, now accessible from Listen Now. Listeners will also be able to access free trials and sample episodes offered by creators.
Through Family Sharing, up to six family members can share a subscription.
Listeners will be able to access the enhanced Search tab with Top Charts and categories, new show and episode pages with the Smart Play button, and Saved Episodes on iOS 14.5, iPadOS 14.5, and macOS 11.3. Saved Episodes are also available on watchOS 7.4 and tvOS 14.5. These software updates will be available next week.
The Apple Podcasters Program, which includes all of the tools needed to offer premium subscriptions on Apple Podcasts, is available to creators in over 170 countries and regions for $24.99 per year. Creators can enroll in the Apple Podcasters Program today through Apple Podcasts Connect.
For a limited time, eligible customers who purchase a new iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Apple TV, or Mac can enjoy one year of Apple TV+ for free and three months of Apple Arcade for free.