What to expect at Apple’s April 2021 event
On April 20, Apple will be holding a special 'Spring Loaded' event where multiple new products will be revealed. Here's what you can expect to see.
iPads are a dead certainty, but Apple's playing its usual coy tricks around what else we'll see from Cupertino on 20 April. Here's what we expect to see.
Why is it Apple's "Spring Loaded" event?
Largely because in the Northern Hemisphere, where Apple's California headquarters are, it's currently spring time.
Also, because Apple has something of a sense of humour, and the logo for this particular Apple hype-fest is pretty obviously a coiled spring. Apple doesn't often comment on its sense of humour, but it's definitely present here, as the company is clearly getting ready to spring new products into market.
When is Apple's April 2021 event?
Officially speaking, the Apple "Spring Loaded" event takes place at 10am PDT on 20 April 2020, if you happen to be in the pacific time zone of the United States.
Here in Australia, time zone differences mean that it's not taking place on the 20th, but instead in the wee early hours of the 21st. Specifically, it'll all kick off at 3am AEDT, and a little earlier for those folks a little more westwards if that includes you.
Where is Apple's April 2021 event taking place?
Well, officially, it's taking place at Apple's Cupertino "spaceship" style offices, but not really. The realities of the pandemic mean that it's being streamed over the Internet, via Apple's Event page, via Apple TV and on YouTube.
Or, indeed, just below this sentence:
From a practical viewpoint, it feels pretty likely that Apple will have actually filmed everything set to debut next week already, even though it'll be "live" from that time.
What will Apple show off at its April 2021 event?
Only Tim Cook knows absolutely for sure, but a range of leaks have pointed very strongly at some contenders that will appear, as well as a few wildcards that are definitely coming down the pipeline, but probably not right away.
New iPad Pro?
The most prominent and widely regarded suggestion is that Apple will use the Spring Loaded event to debut a new model of the iPad Pro. The timing is about right for a refresh of the iPad Pro lines, although the current model really isn't a slow device by tablet standards.
The rumours suggest that we'll see both a smaller 11 inch and larger 12.9 inch model refresh, which probably means that there's only a few days of live selling of the existing versions to go.
Apple's pretty much bound to stuff a new Apple A-series chip into the iPad Pro, although it's possible it may use the introduction of last year's M-series ARM chips in the new MacBooks to draw some common ground between the two platforms.
Apple has already jumped over to USB C charging for the iPad Pro, and we'd expect that to remain, but it'd be great to perhaps see more than one USB C port, to more fully realise that "Pro" branding. That's largely wishful thinking, however.
What has been widely tipped is that Apple may shift over to a new screen technology for the iPad Pro 2021. Existing iPad Pro models use LCD displays – very good ones, but not quite as sharp as, say, an OLED would be.
Don't expect an OLED iPad Pro next week, however, with many rumours suggesting Apple will shift instead to using Mini LED displays for better contrast instead.
New iPad Mini
The iPad Mini has always stood out in Apple's tablet lineup, because it's so tiny and cute. However, it's also pretty ancient in iPad terms, with a huge bezel, older processor technologies and limited storage options.
It's well past due for a refresh, and while the focus will no doubt mostly be on the iPad Pro, if you're a fan of the smaller iPad Mini, there's a strong suggestion that we'll see a refresh next week. Hopefully one without honking big chunky bezels, but again, only Tim knows for sure.
New Apple Pencil?
Some sites are suggesting that the Spring Logo isn't just meant to be evocative of using an Apple Pencil on an iPad, but also a pointer to a new, possibly Spring-loaded Apple Pencil design.
Apple currently sells two Apple Pencil variants, depending on your iPad's connection technology. If you still charge over Lightning, you need the first generation Apple Pencil, while if you have a USB C iPad Pro, you need the second generation model.
Outside the connectors, they are very similar looking devices, which is super confusing. Here's hoping Apple can greatly simplify its Apple Pencil approach, if indeed we are getting a new Apple Pencil model.
Apple's answer to the Tile tracker feels like it's been coming forever at this stage. As you'd expect, Apple's approach ties in strongly to its "Find My" feature for Apple devices, only built around tags that you could in theory attach to anything to then track.
So in theory, you could track a Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G with one, although Apple's presumably going to be more keen to flog them to those who play exclusively within the Apple ecosystem.
Apple recently opened up its Find My network to third party devices, which is another signal that AirTags could be about to imminently appear.
Then again, opening it up to third parties could mean that AirTags are in fact going to shortly go the way of Apple's ill-fated AirPower charger, because if third parties can use Find My, why would you want to or need to use AirTags?
Apple announced at WWDC last year that it was planning to shift to an entirely ARM-based "Apple Silicon" approach for its Mac lines within a two year timeframe. It's already eaten nearly a year of that timeframe, and so far all we've seen are updates to the 13-inch MacBook Air and MacBook Pro, as well as new Mac Mini models.
Apple's definitely working on updated iMac Models, and it has recently discontinued the iMac Pro, leading some to suspect that new iMacs are just around the corner.
This feels a little more stretched out as rumours go, however. While the iMac is an important machine for Apple in a general sense, it might not be headline-grabbing enough to warrant a lot of time at an Apple event.
Apple could probably just announce them via press release and sell as many as it would without needing a flashy event. We'll have to wait – not long – and see.
While the AirPods Max only came out a few months ago, they're pitched for a very specific audiophile crowd with lots of cash to splash. It's been a good while longer since we saw upgrades to the core AirPods or AirPods Pro lines.
The rumour mill churn suggests that it's the AirPods that will see the first updates as the AirPods 3, with the smaller design of the AirPods Pro but none of the active noise cancelling features.
New Apple TV?
No, not the subscription TV service, because that's Apple TV+.
Yes, it's confusing, again, but Apple also has a 4K capable set top box called the Apple TV that you can watch Apple TV+ on, as well as numerous other streaming services.
Actually, you can watch Apple TV+ on a lot of streaming devices now, but getting back to the box, the Apple TV 4K was first launched in September 2017. Four years is a lifetime in streaming box technology, and it's well overdue for an update.
Some reports suggest that Apple will more heavily lean on the gaming potential of the Apple TV and Apple Arcade(https://www.finder.com.au/apple-arcade-review-ios13-subscription) with a bundled controller and upgraded GPU.
Others suggest that it'll offer support for 8K resolutions and 120Hz refresh rates. The Apple TV set top box hasn't felt like it's a huge priority for Apple in recent years, and the fact that you can watch Apple TV+ on so many competing devices doesn't do much to suggest that Apple's heavily concentrating in this area, but we'll again have to wait and see.
Apple's made some big changes in its HomePod lineup of late. The HomePod Mini brought affordability to the HomePod space, but not long after its debut, Apple killed sales of the original HomePod outright.
That leaves a higher-end gap in Apple's smart speaker space, and the rumours around this suggest that if Apple's going to do anything here, it might be with more of a smart display device, akin to the Google Nest Hub or Amazon Echo Show.
Some reports suggest that Apple's either looking at a detachable iPad style interface, which would be a neat trick to pull off, or possibly a more Echo-Show like iPad that tracks your movement around a room.
That was a neat bit of technology that also felt rather creepy in real world use, so quite how Apple would justify that given its general privacy-first focus could make for some interesting mental gymnastics along with the interesting technology.
A "just one more thing"?
Probably not. Apple's not really played that kind of 'big surprise' game for some time now, and given the pre-recorded nature of current Apple events, there's even less scope for wild applause and gasps from an array of hand-picked journalists and influencers than there otherwise would be. While there are rumours of Apple working on everything from an Apple Car to Apple Contact Lenses (no, really!), don't expect some kind of wild and crazy new technology this week.
All signs point to some cool new Apple gear, but it appears we're in an incremental holding pattern.
As always, we'll be stocking up on the coffee and catching all the news as it happens in the early hours of the 21st, so you'll be able to find out everything you need to know right here on Finder as it happens.