Last year Apple changed the way that companies deliver product launches with their stunning array of special events that not only showcase the products but feature Hollywood quality production value. Today we got the latest event and it was jam packed. There’s a new iMac, iPad Pro, Apple TV 4K, the much rumoured AirTag and much more. Here’s a bitesize rundown of everything from the event.
New iMac with M1
The iMac, from the front at least, has looked the same since 2012. Almost a decade of the same design language with only minor updates to the much loved computer since. Whilst it has always looked pretty great, those thick bezels and large dimensions are starting to look pretty outdated on 2021. So Apple has completed redesign the iMac both inside and out.
From the side you can see just how thin it is. The aluminium and glass enclosure is a touch over 11mm thick meaning it’ll look great anywhere and barely take up any room. It’s amazing that inside there is enough power to do even professional level tasks. The screen is also new and improved. It’s bigger at 24 inches and has a 4.5k resolution. The bezels are thinner (although no where near as thing as we expected) but the traditional iMac ‘chin’ remains. This time covered in a single sheet of glass and highlighting your choice of seven colours. Just like the original iMac. There’s a new webcam with AI features to make your video chats look even better and a new “studio quality” three-microphone array will vastly improve audio quality. Speaking of audio quality, Apple have managed to squeeze six speakers into that thin design to deliver more bass and better sound right out of the box.
The redesign comes with the introduction of the M1 chip that debuted last year. A technology that we quickly adopted here at Average Joes. Our main workhorse at AJ HQ is a MacBook Pro running the M1 and it has changed the way we work. Photo editing is a breeze and now we can easily work with high quality 4K video files for our Automotive YouTube channel. In the MacBook we often can go for two or even three days between charges. Even a heavy video editing session barely puts a dent on the battery life. In the iMac this won’t be a consideration but it highlights the amazing performance of the new chip.
The keyboard and mouse have received welcome updates too. You can finally unlock your computer with touch ID right from the new keyboard and they have matched the colours too. The Magic Mouse remains the same but is available in the same seven colours. So too is the magic trackpad. It would have been nice to see a backlit keyboard but we can’t have everything.
Prices start at £1249 and goes up to £1649 for the spec you really want. Given the quality of the display, the materials used and the performance of the M1, it’s surprisingly good value. You can order it from the 30th of April and deliveries will start in the second half of May.
Never lose anything again with AirTag
Like most things that Apple does, the AirTag is not a new idea but instead done in a very Apple way. Much like the Tile trackers that have been around for a while now, the AirTag is a small device that you can attach to a keyring, bag or anything else for that matter. It leverages Apple’s U1 chip in the latest iPhones to allow you to find your lost item with amazing accuracy. It’ll give you cm accurate directions so even if they’re stuck down the back of the sofa or in your pets bed, you’ll be able to find it quickly. The AirTag sends out a secure Bluetooth signal that can be detected by nearby devices in Apple’s Find My network. These devices send the location of your AirTag to iCloud so you can go to the Find My app and see it on a map.
If you lost the item away from your immediate location then it uses Apple’s vast customer base of iPhones, iPads and Macs to give you an accurate location even if your AirTag is miles from home. And don’t worry, it’s all secure. Apple have introduced a range of security measures to stop unwanted tracking. In Apple’s words: “Only you can see where your AirTag is. Your location data and history are never stored on the AirTag itself. Devices that relay the location of your AirTag also stay anonymous, and that location data is encrypted every step of the way. So not even Apple knows the location of your AirTag or the identity of the device that helps find it.”
A single AirTag costs £29 and a pack of four is £99. Of course there’s a range of fairly pricey keyrings, loops and accessories from Apple but expect a floury of cheaper 3rd party options very soon. You can order the AirTag from 1pm on the 23rd of April.
The iPad Pro gets the M1 chip, a new display and 5G
The latest update to the iPad Pro is both minimal and quite a big deal. Apple have decided to do away with their tradition of putting a beefier version of the latest iPhone chip in the Pro and instead have opted to include the M1 chip from their Mac line. The bump in performance is note-worthy but the message that Apple is sending is where it gets more interesting. Apple are basically blurring the lines between their iPad Pro and their Mac computers. Especially thanks to the addition of a super fast Thunderbolt port on the iPad meaning it will not only work with faster accessories but can power an external display up to 6K. Making the Pro bit of the name less of a marketing ploy and more of a statement of intent.
The largest 12.9″ version also has a new micro-LED display. This means better contrast, greater colours and much better brightness. It’s a display technology that we expect to see on a lot of future Apple products and should mean the iPad is even better for creative professionals and hobbyists alike.
The rear cameras and LiDAR scanner appear to be the same as before but the front facing camera has seen a decent upgrade. It’s got a wider field of view and now boasts a 12mp sensor but it’s the new software features that should prove to be more useful. Apple calls their new feature; Centre Stage. It uses the Ultra Wide camera and machine learning to change the way you appear in video calls. As you move around, it automatically pans (digitally) to keep you centred in the frame. When others join in or leave the call, the view expands or zooms in. The new feature works with FaceTime but other will reportedly work with other video conferencing apps.
The 11″ iPad Pro is still £799 and the 12.9″ version starts at £999. If you want the biggest 2TB version with 5G too you’ll need to find £2149 which is quite a sum. The Magic keyboard launched last year will work with the new iPad and can now be ordered in white as well as the original black.
Apple TV 4K gets new chip and much needed new remote
The Apple TV 4K is a slightly controversial product for Apple. Some people love it and others can’t see the point. Personally I have two in my house and whilst it has its faults, I really enjoy the experience I get from it. I have access to all the apps from the major steaming services as well as Apple Fitness+ and a range of other apps and games. But the import feature of the Apple TV for me is the speed. Smart TVs often feel so dumb. The remotes are clunky and the built in apps feel like they run on coal. The Apple TV and similar products make the process of finding content much easier and well worth the cost of admission.
The new Apple TV 4K offers the same functionality but with a faster processor, high frame rate HDR compatibility, new colour calibration settings (uses your iPhone to ensure accurate colours regardless of your TV or settings) and most importantly an all-new remote. The old ‘Siri-remote’ seemed like great idea but in practice the touch surface pad is often a pain to use. The new remote returns to good-old-fashioned buttons but with a touch sensitive wheel that operates much like the original iPod. It looks much better.
The Apple TV 4K starts at £169 for the 32gb option and £189 for the 64gb version. You can order it from th 30th of April and deliveries will start in the second half of May.
A purple iPhone and new Podcast subscription service
Apple started the special event with their usual update on their business and services but dropped a couple of new things that we weren’t expecting. First was a new podcast subscription service and update to the existing app. The new service is called ‘Apple Podcasts Subscriptions’ and it will allow podcast creators to offer new subscription services to their audience as well as extra bonuses like “ad-free listening, access to additional content, and early or exclusive access to new series.” It appears, the cost will be set by the creator but billed by Apple. Should launch some time in May with the iOS 14.5 update.
The other surprise was a purple iPhone. apple don’t usually offer new colours after the launch of a product but clearly 2021 is different. The iPhone 12 in purple is exactly the same as the normal iPhone 12 and is available in the normal size and as the Mini.