It’s Apple day! And just when I was starting to wonder if the world still had the capacity to get excited about hour-long product announcements. At its “Spring Loaded” event, Apple roared out of the gate, announcing some pretty wicked upgrades to the Mac and iPad product lines. Thanks, M1 chip. I don’t really need a new iPad, but, do I?
Let’s start small and go big. If you’ve been bitten by Apple Fever, here’s how you can get your hands on everything Apple announced today.
(Some) Purple iPhone 12s
All versions of the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Mini (but not the iPhone 12 Pro) now also come in a lovely purple color. It’s a bit of a bummer that power users can’t get their hands on some purple, but I suppose metallic tones are what separate you from the pleebs. Enjoy your fancier iPhone—but man, that purple does look good. Pre-orders for the new-hued device start Friday, April 23 and they’ll start shipping April 30.
Find your stuff with AirTags
Apple’s oft-rumored tracking devices are finally here—well, almost. You’ll be able to pre-order the Find My-powered AirTags starting Friday (April 23), and they’ll officially launch on April 30. Each AirTag will start at $29, with a $99 four-pack giving you a bit of a discount. Bougie Hermès versions are also available, starting at $299.
Naturally, that $29 (or $99) investment will just get you the bare AirTag; the accessories, like little holders you can attach to your keys, or backpack, or whatnot, will cost as much as (or more than) the AirTag itself.
The biggest question, though: Can I actually stuff one of these into my wallet, or is that too ambitious?
Sort-of calibrate your TV for Apple TV 4K
Apple has kicked an A12 Bionic chip into the Apple TV 4K. That means HDR in high frame rates for all the content that supports it, upgraded AirPlay that can handle that kind of top-shelf streaming from your various devices, and a brand-new remote. Just look at that remote. I can finally see what buttons I’m pressing! And the touch-enabled clickpad even supports rotational gestures for scrubbing through your content. Neat.
What I like most, though, is a new feature that reminds me a bit of the self-calibration mode on my home entertainment system’s receiver: Your Apple TV 4K will now use your iPhone’s light sensor to evaluate your TV’s color balance. If it’s off, the Apple TV will make adjustments to display the best possible picture—though only for what you’re watching on your Apple TV, of course. I yearn for a day when I can just hold up my smartphone and have my TV make itself look great whatever I’m watching. Wistful sigh.
Pre-order the all-new Apple TV 4K on April 30, and it’ll start shipping in the latter half of May.
Turn your office into a iMac rainbow
I love the new iMac colors. And I’m not the only one, as that’s pretty much what dominated my text and Facebook Messenger conversations during today’s keynote. My friends basically turned into some version of ”omg the colorrrrssss,” which is surely making some Apple hardware engineer sigh deeply as they pour themselves a drink and ponder all the work they’ve already poured into an M2 chip. What can I say; people like colors.
Me, though? I’ll drool over the hardware, too. In building an iMac around the M1 chip, Apple has managed to shrink the depth of its 24-inch display to an absurd 11.5mm in thickness. What a sight. You’re also (finally) getting an upgrade to a 1080p FaceTime camera, a brand-new three-microphone system that allegedly does an even better job of isolating your voice from your loud environments, and a six-speaker setup that allows for (ideally) decent-sounding virtual surround sound.
Most importantly, Apple’s skinny iMac comes with a magnetic power connector (thank god) with an Ethernet port that plugs into the power brick. This means that you’re basically only having to deal with (up to) 4 USB-C ports and a power cable, no other cables need apply.
On the accessories front, color-matched keyboards, mice, and trackpads continue the iMac’s stayle; more importantly, the Magic Keyboard now has a dedicated button for Touch ID—authenticate your purchases or switch users with the press of a finger.
The iMac comes in three base models, shown below:
And, yes, that means you’ll be paying a little extra if you want to access the full suite of iMac colors. Honestly, I think that $1,499 iMac is the sweet spot. I wouldn’t pay $1,300 for a desktop PC without gigabit Ethernet in 2021, and it’s unfortunate that (and two extra USB-C ports, and those colors) are going to cost you $200 extra.
If you’re already paying $1,300 for a new iMac, you can splurge a little more for one that’s a lot more filled out (and comes with that Touch ID keyboard, rather than just a regular Magic Keyboard). That $1,300 iMac feels like a sucker’s buy. Hell, go buy a cheaper Mac Mini and use the money you save to get a great (albeit fatter) monitor and a can of bright spray paint.
And, yes, the oft-rumored 12-core M1 iMac is not to be—at least, not yet. I fully expect Apple to drop a 27-inch iMac (or larger) with even better M1 performance at a later date. If you need that screen size, or need as much speed as you can get, you’ll be waiting a bit longer.
Pre-orders for Apple’s iMacs start April 30, and the desktops will start shipping in the latter half of May.
The iPad Pro is basically a portable iMac
Rounding out Apple’s announcements is a brand-new update to its iPad Pro that drops an M1 chip directly into the tablet. Yes, the grand convergence of your tablet and your desktop computer/laptop continues, and the iPad Pro is basically getting the same 8-core CPU and GPU setup as Apple’s M1 desktops. As Apple touted, that means up to 50% faster CPU speeds than its previous-generation iPad Pro, and up to 40% faster GPU speeds.
Apple’s latest iPad Pro supports USC-C and Thunderbolt connections (USB 4), giving you up to 40Gbps of throughput, or enough to power a 6K-resolution Pro Display XDR. Speaking of, the 12.9-inch iPad Pro has a brand-new Liquid Retina XDR display, giving it the same absurd brightness levels and contrast ratios of Apple’s top-shelf prosumer display.
A brand-new 12MP ultrawide front-facing camera allows you to take advantage of a new Center Stage feature, which always attempts to keep you in the front of your shot as you walk around a larger area. (Aspiring Binging with Babish-style YouTube chefs will love that one, no doubt.)
The iPad Pro also fully supports 5G (including mmWave), assuming your carrier and/or location give you decent speeds. You can also buy a 2TB iPad Pro now, if you need that much storage, and you’ll be able to use both Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5 DualSense controllers with your iPad Pro when gaming.
Pre-orders for Apple’s iPad Pro start April 30, and the tablets will start shipping in the latter half of May. The two versions offered are:
- 11-inch Liquid Retina iPad: Starting at $799
- 12.9-inch Liquid Retina XDR iPad: Starting at $1,099