21/04/2021

Apple “Spring Loaded” Event 2021 Highlights

As the tradition goes, Apple hosts a spring launch event around March - April time and this year was no exception. Apple has unveiled a few updates to their popular product lineups such as iPad, iMac, iPhone and a much anticipated addition to the Apple ecosystem: AirTags.

What Has Been Announced at Apple “Spring Loaded” Launch Event?

New Colour Finishes for iPhone 12 Mini and iPhone 12

The event kicked off with a debut of a new lilac purple colour for iPhone 12 Mini and iPhone 12 series. In total there are now six colours to choose from including blue, pastel green, red, white, black and the new purple. The iPhone 12 and 12 Mini in purple will be up for pre-orders from 1pm on the 23rd of April, shipping from the 30th of April.

Image: Apple

AirTags: Price and Compatibility With Apple Devices

You’ve likely heard about Tile Trackers, tracking devices that help you to locate things like keys and wallets in case they get lost. Now Tile has got a new rival: Apple AirTags. The industry’s reporters and leakers have been sharing rumours about AirTags coming for a few years, but Apple has finally brought them to light with a price of £29 for one, and a pack of four priced at £99.

Image: Apple

AirTags are small coin-sized trackers that can be attached with the help of a key ring (purchased separately for £35) to other devices or items and tracked down using Find My app. You can play a sound on an AirTag to help locate it somewhere nearby, or use Find My app to discover its location. However, there’s one caveat. In order to pair your AirTag with your iPhone it needs to be able to run iOS 14.5. This means that AirTags are not compatible with iPhone 6s and older that don't receive iOS updates any longer.

Image: Apple

There’s also a “Precision Tracking” feature that does all the magic worth paying £29 for and gives you precise augmented reality guidelines on the whereabouts of your AirTagged items. But this feature is only available on paired devices that have a U1 chip which AirTags have built-in. The U1 chip enables improved distance awareness between two devices that support Ultra Wideband. Officially Precision Finding will work on the following devices:

  • iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro, iPhone 11 Pro Max
  • iPhone 12 Mini, iPhone 12, iPhone 12 Pro, iPhone 12 Pro Max

Devices that do not feature a U1 chip and therefore won’t support Precision Finding:

  • iPhone SE 2020, iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max, iPhone XR, iPhone X and older
  • iPad 2020, iPad Pro 2020, iPad Air 2020
  • Apple Watch Series 5, Apple Watch SE
  • AirPods, AirPods Pro, AirPods Max

The use cases for AirTags are greatly reduced with the limitations of the U1 chip distribution among Apple products. Most likely more upcoming product lineups will feature the chip for a more precise tracking, but at the moment it seems strange that a £550 headset isn't compatible with AirTags given that Apple trackers have been rumoured for years and likely in the works for as long. The same story is with AirPods, the most easy to lose item of them all and it’s simply impossible to attach an AirTag to them as the size of it is twice the size of an AirPod. So it is certain that until the next generation of AirPods we’ll need to figure out where in the room they are buried with the help of nothing but magic.

Apple mentions that battery life will be good enough for an AirTag to last a year on one battery and when it runs out of charge, it can be replaced with a new CR2032 coin cell battery. It’s great that Apple has featured a user replaceable battery in AirTags, one less disposable gadget.

New iPad Borrowing More From the Mac than the iPhone

Changing from the A series chips found in the iPhones, to the M series of chips which are found in the Macs, the M1 on the Macbook has 8 - 16GB of ram, this opens the doors to use thunderbolt and to really have the iPad pro as a key part of your professional setup and not be limited by final editing or publishing on a Mac machine, by frustrating transfer speeds.

Image: Apple

The theme of being super fast continues with it now able to connect to the 5G network,and utlising the same chip as the new iMacs, the Pro will deliver 75% faster processing than the original iPad.

There’s a few reasons why iPad hasn’t used the OLED, problems with burn in and viewing angle seeming to be the key factors, but again, boring off the Mac, they are putting the Liquid Retina XDR display into the 12.9 inch Pro, presumably to keep the cost down for the cheaper 11 inch model.

The New iMac

It has launched in multiple colours, as expected, but also subverted expectations many had of becoming an all screen device, they have released it with the same ‘chin’ of previous years. However with the xRay look below, you can see it houses the 4.5k display panel and a couple of small fans either side of the motherboard showing that even though it is superthin, it does have the same active cooling as the Macbook Pro and Mac Mini.

Image: Apple

Slimmer and more colourful, the M1 model “reduces the volume of iMac by 50%” which is a pertinent and understandable selling point what has been Apple’s minimalist Vibe, they are sticking with what they know, and it looks incredible for it.

Image: Apple

Antonia

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