Apple’s 20 April 2021 “Spring Loaded” event has just concluded, so here we run through everything the company announced (or didn’t).
You can rewatch the entire thing within this article, with Apple’s slickly-produced stream only taking about an hour, whilst still delivering a host of new product announcements; from AirTags to the first M1-powered iPad Pro.
When was Apple’s spring event?
Apple’s virtual personal assistant, Siri, spoiled the surprise ahead of time! On 12 April Siri started telling people that the next Apple Event would happen on 20 April and sure enough, the following day, on 13 April, Apple made the announcement that its Spring Loaded event was indeed set to take place on Tuesday 20 April.
What did Apple announce at its 20 April event
Past spring events have seen Apple reveal new iPads and various software and services-based products. Here’s what this year’s spring event gave us:
After what must amount to years of rumours at this stage, one of Apple’s first new products of the show was the AirTag, which broke cover during the ‘Find My’ segment of the Spring Forward event.
The diminutive tracker, which costs $29 for one or $99 for a pack of four, works with Apple’s existing Find My ecosystem, allowing users to locate items like keys, bags, clothing and more.
AirTags are made of stainless steel, can be customised with laser-etched designs (including 31 emojis), feature a user-replaceable battery, IP67-certified ingress protection against dust and water, and feature an integrated speaker to help make locating them easier.
Those with Apple devices sporting a U1 chip can also use Precision Finding, for close-quarters guided directions towards a missing AirTag.
AirTags can be paired with a dedicated run of accessories, including a polyurethane loop, a leather loop and leather keyring, while the company’s ongoing partnership with luxury goods brand Hermès manifests in the AirTag Hermès; available with a range of handcrafted leather accessories including a bag charm, keyring, travel tag and luggage tag. Hermès accessories also include a custom-engraved AirTag, based on the brand’s ‘Clou de Selle’ signature.
A12 Bionic-powered Apple TV 4K
After more than three years since Apple last updated its set-top box, a new iteration of Apple TV felt long overdue; thankfully the company didn’t disappoint at its Spring Forward event.
The new sixth-generation Apple TV 4K comes powered by the company’s own A12 Bionic chip and features a revised Siri remote with a two-tone aluminium design that shifts the Siri button to the right side (like an iPhone).
Pairing the Apple TV with a supported iPhone allows for a new colour calibration and white balance feature; with the promise of more accurate viewing as a result. HDR viewing was already part of the Apple TV recipe but with the new Apple TV, HFR (high frame rate) visuals when watching HDR content (even content locally streamed via AirPlay) is now supported too.
There’s been an argument building concerning why the iMac has been long-overdue a redesign. Well, it looks like 2021 is the year when Apple finally addresses this, with a brand new look for its all-in-one desktop Mac, complete with its latest M1 chip and a wealth of other features to boot.
Highlights include seven new colour options to choose from, a 24in 4.5K Retina display, an aluminium body that’s just 11.5mm thin, a 1080p FaceTime HD camera and a number of colour-matched accessories – including new Magic Mouse, Magic Trackpad and Magic Keyboard variants (with optional TouchID for the first time on an iMac).
While the expected M1X processor didn’t materialise here, the M1-powered iMac looks like a remarkable step up and should remain whisper quiet in general use (Apple quoted an operating noise output of just 10db).
For a deeper dive into all there is to look forward to, with regards to the new iMac, read our new iMac 2021 news hub.
M1-powered iPad Pro(s)
It looks like famed analyst Ming-Chi Kuo was right on the money, with Apple bringing the M1 chip to the iPad Pro. While both 11in and 12.9in models featured, the latter stands out with its new Liquid Retina XDR display, which boasts mini LED technology, delivering an operating brightness of 1000nits, a peak brightness of 1600nits and a 1,000,000:1 contrast ratio.
The introduction of the M1 chip promises a 50% performance improvement over the last iPad Pro and while features like Pro Motion and quad speakers endure, Apple has upped aspects like storage and connectivity, with an additional 2TB SKU on offer, 5G support and Thunderbolt/USB4 via the tablet’s USB-C port.
A new 12Mp ultrawide-angle TrueDepth front camera also showcases what Apple is calling Center Stage, which crops in on the frame during video calls to virtually zoom and pan in order to keep a subject (or subjects) in shot.
Read our iPad Pro 2021 guide for more details.
New iPhone 12 colours, Apple Card Family & Apple Podcasts Subscriptions
Three minor announcements that actually kicked off Apple’s Spring Forward event before the meat of the affair already covered above, included the introduction of a new purple finish for the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 mini, Apple Card Family – a way for a group of users in a ‘Family Sharing group’ to collectively track and benefit from their spending, and a reworked Apple Podcasts app that boasts a subscription service which includes curated and ad-free listening.
What didn’t Apple announce at its 20 April event
In spring 2020 we saw the arrival of the second-generation iPhone SE, although it’s worth noting that this was via a press release rather than a dedicated event (due to the pandemic).
Back in 2019 Apple hosted an event on 25 March, where it showcased Apple Arcade, Apple TV+, and Apple News+ services.
The previous year brought an update to the entry-level 9.7in iPad, which itself had been introduced two years previously in another March event that also saw the arrival of the original iPhone SE.
Prosser was wrong about the AirPods Max launching in March, and while there’s still time in the season, new buds didn’t materialise at Spring Forward either. There are various new AirPods rumoured, including the AirPods 3, which are said to be based on the AirPods Pro design, and also AirPods Pro Lite earbuds (which may actually be the same thing).
New iPhone and Watch cases
Every spring Apple tends to launch new accessories for the iPhone and Apple Watch and it looks like the same is set to happen this spring.
An image of new iPhone case colours has appeared on Twitter. The new colours are poetically named: amethyst, pistachio, capri and cantaloupe.
2021 Spring Colors. pic.twitter.com/EOaZ2P0SAI— Tommy Boi (@TommyBo50387266) April 11, 2021
Read more here: New iPhone cases coming next week.
New Apple Pencil
Despite a new pair of M1-powered iPad Pros, both slates were pictured with what appeared to be the existing Apple Pencil 2.
In the weeks running up to Spring Forward, a number of Apple leakers made mention of a new Apple Pencil, however, which is said to feature a shiny surface and a flat side, as well as new technology in the tip that could mean it could be used as a colour picker.
While it didn’t appear during the event, these rumours mean we’re not writing off the possibility of its appearance this season altogether, just yet.
Read all about the new Apple Pencil 3.
Rumours have suggested we might see an update to the diminutive mini for some time now, however, indication that the it might have been delayed until the autumn look to ring true, based on its absence on 20 April.
The big rumour is that the iPad mini 6 could get a bigger screen, leaving behind the 7.9in design that’s been the same since it was first introduced nearly a decade ago.
Sceptics will point to the fact that Apple usually announces iPad mini updates in autumn, but since the company left four years between the iPad mini 4 and iPad mini 5 (the latter of which was launched in March 2019), we think it safe to assume that the former pattern isn’t set in stone.
The entry-level iPad model has traditionally been unveiled at Apple’s spring events. Many think that Apple could be about to move the current 10.2in iPad into the frame of the recently discontinued iPad Air 3, which would mean an increase in screen size to 10.5in.
For more details on what could be in store for the cheapest tablet in Apple’s catalogue, read our roundup of the news and rumours around the 10.5in iPad 2021.
14in MacBook Pro
Apple is said to have plans for the 13in MacBook Pro that wasn’t given an M1 chip in November 2020. This model could get a completely new design and a bigger screen.
Read more in our 14in MacBook Pro roundup.
What to expect from Apple later into 2021
There are a few things we know we won’t see until later this year, for example, we won’t learn about iOS 15 and macOS 12 until WWDC in June, and we won’t hear about the iPhone 13 (or iPhone 12s) until September, at the earliest.
Bigger iPhone SE
There may be some people wondering whether the iPhone SE 2, which is now a year old, will get an update. There are rumours that a new larger model is in the pipeline at Apple, for example.
However, the latest rumours indicate that the larger 6.1in iPhone SE ‘won’t launch until 2023‘ while analyst Ming Chi-Kuo does at least think we could see a new iPhone SE in 2022.
We have a round up of iPhone SE 3 rumours if you want to know more.
If you’d like to know more about Apple’s upcoming announcements, read When is the next Apple event? And for specific information about the most important events this year, take a look at our iPhone SE 3 and iPhone 13 news hubs.