Apple’s colourful vision for 2021The first Apple event of the year came with a lot of new announcements.
On April 20, 2021, Apple held its first event of the year, which it called “Spring loaded”, advertised a new colourful theme for the company. The first Apple event of the year came with a lot of new announcements that hint at the path the company is going to be taking for the year. Among the new releases by Apple, we see new AirTag locator pucks, a new redesign of the iMac around Apple’s in-house Apple Silicon and an iPad Pro powered with the same chip. Smaller announcements like a new Apple TV 4K with a shiny new remote, a new purple iPhone and new Apple Podcast subscriptions have also been announced but we’re going to take a deeper dive into the main three products today.
It seems obvious that Apple is concentrating their efforts on integrating as many of the products to their seriously impressive M1 chips. Apple launched the M1 chip through their MacBook and Mac Mini products last year, and this year, the inclusion of the chip on the severely outdated baseline iMacs come as a welcome addition. Moving away from Intel’s comparably inefficient design has allowed Apple to shrink the heat-dissipation systems in the iMac, allowing for a very impressive new iMac design. The newly announced iMacs come in a mind-boggling 11.5mm thickness, with thinner-bezels housing a 24-inch 4k Retina Display. They also come in seven different colours now with a design aesthetic that has had polarising reviews.
While the thickness of the iMac is a technical marvel, the new iMac designs still incorporate the bottom chin that had defined previous generation iMacs. Even though the chin remains an iconic for the iMac, the small profile of the SOC thanks to the M1 chips should have made it easier for Apple to squeeze the computer behind the display for a more elegant, no-bezel look. But regardless, the chin houses some really impressive hardware, Apple has managed to squeeze six Dolby Atmos capable speaker units into the chin which, if the sound quality of recent MacBooks are any indication, should sound amazing. Apple has also designed the iMac around a duo-tone colour design, meaning slightly different colours are being used for the different aspects of the chassis creating an interesting colour scheme.
The power cable for the iMac has also been redesigned to an outer power-supply unit with a built-in ethernet port (on some models) that connects to the computer magnetically. The MagSafe connectors have been some of the most missed features in newer Apple computers and its comeback on the iMac computers is a welcome addition even though the thinness of the computer probably pushed Apple to redesign the old thick three-pin power connectors. Internally, the inclusion of the M1 on the iMac is going to provide the computer with a lot of horsepower since the chip itself has seen very impressive implementation on MacBooks. A M1 powered MacBook Air performed better than heavily powered Intel MacBook Pros. This power is definitely going to push the raw horsepower of the iMac, but Apple has announced an M1 powered iPad pro as well.
The new iPad Pros are going to come equipped with the M1 Chips, which while all good and nice, feels way too overkill for a tablet computer. Apple’s M1 chips have been performing amazing on laptop computers and having the iPad run off of the M1 gives the iPad Pros a performance boost that beats all Android tablets out of the water. To be fair, Apple has been untouchable in the tablet market for years now with Android tablets struggling to provide the same user experience as iPad OS—many applications of Android don’t support tablet resolutions and the Android experience on tablets just feels unpolished compared to Apple. These M1-powered iPads also come in similar specifications to the MacBook Air and even support high-speed transfers through Thunderbolt. But while the M1 chips are definitely going to overpower the iPads, Apple has also managed to shrink their Pro Display XDR technology into the iPads, equipping them with the first Mini-LED HDR display that Apple calls “Liquid Retina XDR”. Apple Pro XDR Displays are seriously impressive with a price-tag to match since they’re designed for use in extremely professional settings by industry professionals. When you shrink a display of this caliber to the iPad, the resulting iPad Pro creates truly amazing pictures with HDR support, 120Hz refresh rate and a one million to one contrast ratio. While Apple’s displays have been good even on LCD, the move to mini-LED is definitely going to help the company get the darkest blacks and the brightest whites thanks to the 25,000 local dimming zone.
So, while the future looks M1 for many of Apple’s products, they’ve also released a quality-of-life product that many Apple fans had been hoping for for a long time. The AirTags are small plastic pucks with a metal backplate that function as digital tags for Apple’s Find My service. These tags can be used with anything you’d want to keep an eye on, and the tags come with some colourful keychains and suitcase tags that you can pair them up with. These tags work through Apple’s sophisticated network of all Apple devices that communicate with each other to location track these tags, which means if even you’re far away from a stolen or lost AirTag, other Apple devices will communicate with them when they pass by and update the location of the tags. Other digital tracking device manufacturers like Tile have been producing these devices for way longer than Apple, but the Apple backbone that AirTags benefit from should make AirTags a no-brainer if you’re already inside the Apple ecosystem.
The AirTags come with some really interesting features as well, which work especially well with Apple’s new iPhones that are equipped with the U1 chip. In newer iPhones, the new Precision Tracking feature guides users directly to the Tag when lost with a shorter distance through Bluetooth while working off the Apple device grid for more long-distance losses. Apple has also thought about the malicious use of these tags to track people unknowingly and have addressed these concerns through smart software measures as well.
Apple’s Spring Loaded 2021 event was a flurry of colours indeed but it also defined a strong design refresh that we hadn’t seen from Apple in a long time. All iPhone, iPads and iMacs have been updated to adopt Apple’s new boxy, rounded corners design, and even internally, Apple’s new M1 chips are bringing unprecedented power to even devices like the iPad. And with Apple further developing the M1x or M2 chips, Apple is only going to widen the power divide between ARM-based SOCs and Apple Silicon.