Apple’s Spring Loaded event recap – iMac, iPad Pro, AirTag, Apple TV 4K and iPhone 12 in purple
Image Credit: Apple
All of the new and updated products announced at Apple’s Spring Loaded virtual event yesterday, the company’s first livestream of the year.
Apple took to the virtual stage yesterday to announce their redesigned iMac, all-new AirTags, and changes to the iPad Pro, Apple TV 4K and iPhone 12. Find the full stream from Apple here.
Apple’s all-in-one desktop computer got a much needed redesign. While iMacs have been receiving fairly regular spec bumps over the years, the exterior design has remained largly unchanged since 2012. The new iMac is just 11.5mm thin, weighs 10 pounds and comes in seven new colours: Blue, Green, Pink, Silver, Yellow, Orange and Purple.
Apple were able to drastically cut down on the thickness of the iMac thanks to the M1 chip. This is the same chip that was introduced in November on the MacBook Air, MacBook Pro and Mac mini. The compact system on a chip combines the processor, graphics, memory and more onto a single chip. M1 features an 8-core CPU, with 4 performance cores and 4 efficiency cores, 7 or 8-core GPU, 16-core Neural Engine, and either 8GB or 16GB of RAM. M1 has received high praise due to its power and efficiency on both applications written specially for the new architecture and older apps under Rosetta translation. Now that M1 has been around for a few months, plenty of apps have been updated to run natively on M1. Apple say the new iMac has 85% faster CPU performance and 2x faster graphics performance than the 21.5-inch iMac.
In place of the 21-inch 4K display is a larger 24-inch 4.5K display with P3 wide colour gamut, 500 nits of brights, anti-reflective coating and True Tone technology. Despite the display size increase, the physical footprint of the new iMac is only slightly larger thanks to reduced bezels.
Apple have also made improvements to the camera, microphones and speakers. The 1080p FaceTime HD camera is a welcome upgrade, now also with a larger sensor featuring advanced image signal processing thanks to the M1 chip. Your voice should come through clearer on calls too, with three “studio-quality” microphones, plus beamforming technology to focus in on your voice only. The 24-inch iMac now has a six-speaker sound system with “room-filling” audio from two pairs of force-cancelling woofers, balanced by a tweeter for each pair. The new iMac supports spatial audio on videos with Dolby Atmos.
I/O and accessories vary based on which iMac you opt for. All new iMacs come with a magnetic power connector on the end of a colour-matching woven cable, as well as a colour-matched keyboard, mouse and trackpad. The new Magic Keyboard now comes with keys for Spotlight, Dictation, Do Not Disturb and emoji. On the higher end models or as a configurable extra, the Magic Keyboard with Touch ID makes unlocking your computer, using Apple Pay and downloading apps as easy as a touch. All new iMacs are available with either a Magic Mouse or Magic Trackpad.
- Blue, Green, Pink and Silver options
- 7-core GPU
- 256GB SSD – configurable to 512GB or 1TB
- Two Thunderbolt 3/USB 4 ports
- Configurable with Gigabit Ethernet
- Magic Keyboard – configurable with Magic Keyboard with Touch ID, or Magic Keyboard with Touch ID and Numeric Keypad
- Blue, Green, Pink, Silver, Yellow, Orange and Purple options
- 8-core GPU
- 256GB SSD – configurable to 512GB, 1TB or 2TB
- Two Thunderbolt 3/USB 4 ports and Two USB 3 ports
- Gigabit Ethernet
- Magic Keyboard with Touch ID – configurable with Magic Keyboard with Touch ID and Numeric Keypad
$1699 – Same as above but:
- 512GB SSD – configurable to 1TB or 2TB
All models come with 8GB of memory, but are configurable to 16GB, probably for an extra $200. Although we don’t know the exact pricing of all upgrades, it seem the $1499 model is worth the extra $200 cash. All options are available with a built-in VESA Mount Adapter.
Pre-orders start on April 30, with availability in the second half of May.
Like the new iMac, iPad also gets the M1 chip, with an 8-core CPU, 8-core GPU and 16-core Neural Engine on all new iPad Pros. Apple says this leads to 50% faster performance and 40% faster graphics performance. We previously thought these M-series chips would be reserved for Macs, but the inclusion in an iPad raises questions on a potential merger of macOS and iPadOS in the future. Unlike the new iMac, the design remains largely unchanged from the previous generation.
The smaller 11-inch iPad comes with a Liquid Retina display, ProMotion, True Tone, P3 wide colour, ultralow reflectivity and 600 nits of max brightness. The real display upgrades come to the larger 12.9-inch model, which now features a Liquid Retina XDR display, with a 1,000,000:1 contrast ratio, thanks to over 10,000 mini LEDs under the display. These custom-designed LEDs are 120x smaller than the previous generation, with 2500 local dimming zones, leading to 1000 nits of full-screen brightness and 1600 nits of peak brightness. Specs that are comparable to Apple’s $5000 Pro Display XDR monitor.
The front-facing camera is now Ultra Wide, with 12MP, 122-degree field of view and Center Stage. Center Stage crops in on the Ultra-Wide camera and pans to wherever you are, keeping you in the centre of the frame on FaceTime calls and other video conferencing apps. If someone enters the frame, the view will expand to keep everyone in visable. Portrait mode selfies are now also available with the upgraded front camera. The rear cameras are largely unchanged, but now have powerful ISP from the M1 chip and Smart HDR 3.
The USB-C port on the bottom of the iPad is now also a Thunderbolt port that can transfer data at up to 40Gbps. Thunderbolt allows for high-performance accessories such as fast external storage, displays and docks. You can even connect up a Pro Display XDR at full 6K resolution.
Cellular models are now 5G capable. Other optional extras include a Magic Keyboard, now in two colours for both sizes: Black and White. The 128GB, 256GB and 512GB models come with 8GB RAM, while the 1TB and 2TB options come with 16GB RAM.
The 11-inch Liquid Retina Display model starts at $799. The 12.9-inch Liquid Retina XDR display model starts at $1099. Pre-orders start on April 30, with availability in the second half of May.
Apple’s Bluetooth trackers have been rumoured for what feels like forever. Attach them to your keys or place them in a bag so you can easily locate your items when lost.
AirTag’s location can be viewed in the Find My app. When your items are within Bluetooth range, you can trigger a sound on the built-in speaker from your iPhone or say “Hey Siri, find my wallet.” Precision Finding will provide the distance and direction to your AirTag, using Ultra Wideband technology on the iPhone 11s, 11 Pros, 12s and 12 Pros. For items out of Bluetooth range, use Lost Mode and nearby and passing iPhones will ping the location to you. Apple have of course placed a heavy focus on privacy and all data is anonymous and encrypted.
Setup with AirTags is a one-tap process and they’ll last for more than a year on one battery. The CR2032 coin cell battery is user replaceable. AirTags are IP67 water-resistant, which can withstand a maximum depth of 1 meter, for up to 30 minutes. The white plastic can be laser engraved, to personalize your AirTag with initials and emojis at no extra cost.
AirTags cost $29 per tag and $99 for a 4 pack. This price is about on par with Tile’s Bluetooth trackers, but you’ll have to pay extra if you need to attach it to something like keys. Accessories such as key rings, loops, tags and straps can be found here from Apple, Hermès and Belkin from $12.95. Pre-orders for AirTags start on April 23, with availability on April 30.
Apple TV 4K
Apple’s higher end digital media player got a minor spec bump, with a few new nifty features. Apple TV 4K is now powered by the A12 Bionic chip. This is the one found in iPhone XS/XR, 2019 iPad mini, 2019 iPad Air and 2020 iPad. This chip allows the new Apple TV to now support 4K High Frame Rate HDR video.
Apple TV 4K comes with a new Siri Remote. It has a touch-enabled clickpad at the top, that can be swiped to browse content, or use circular gestures on the outer ring to fast-foward or rewind (click wheel vibes). On the side of the remote, there’s a dedicated Siri button.
A neat new feature allows you to automatically balance the colour of your Apple TV by pointing your iPhone at the TV screen. Apple TV will adjust its output based on how your TV displays colours. This kind of feature is only possible because of Apple’s tight eco-system.
The 32GB model is $179 and the 64GB is $199. Pre-orders start on April 30, with availability in the second half of May.
iPhone 12 in purple
iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 mini both now come in a new purple colour. It’s the same iPhone 12 that was released six months ago, just with a fresh coat of paint. Beware, the iPhone is currently mid-way through its life cycle, so purchase with the knowledge it’ll be updated in 5/6 months. Pre-orders start on April 23, with availability on April 30.