The world’s richest technology company proved it was “Spring loaded” and ready to launch more shiny new devices than expected in the wee hours of Wednesday morning, Australian time.
In a comprehensive — even surprising — overhaul of its line-up, Apple revealed long-awaited accessories, new computers, new tablets and new colours in a streamed event from Apple Park.
Even the Apple TV got an overhaul, purple was revealed as the newest colour for iPhones, and some Australian prices fell.
This is what you need to know about Apple’s first big event of 2021.
BIG IPAD LAUNCH
Apple’s most powerful tablet computers got a revamp last year, just as everyone was adapting to work-from-home lifestyles in March.
But, unlike the modest upgrades inside the 2020 iPad Pro models, this year’s iPad Pro overhaul should excite more buyers.
Apple’s top-of-the-line, 12.9-inch iPad Pro will get the biggest display boost, upgrading to a technology the company calls a Liquid Retina XDR screen.
It will use a miniature array of LED lights to achieve a huge brightness boost — from 600 nits to a peak brightness of 1600 nits — as well as 5.6 million pixels.
But, in what some may argue is a bigger revamp, both iPad Pro models will benefit from Apple’s M1 chip, increasing its graphics performance, boosting its computing grunt by “50 per cent,” and delivering “all-day battery life”.
It’s not yet clear how long that day will last, however.
Both models will also receive the option of a 5G connection, a storage boost to two terabytes, and a new ultra wide camera for video calls that automatically tracks users and keeps them in the frame.
Telsyte managing director Foad Fadaghi said the screen update would be an important feature for those looking to upgrade their Apple tablets.
And “bringing the pro iPads to entry-level MacBook speeds” could help Apple iPads keep up with their competition from two-in-one Windows rivals, Mr Fadaghi said.
The 2021 iPad Pro models will also be cheaper in Australia — or the same price — as last year when they hit stores on in the second half of May.
The larger, 12.9-inch iPad Pro will again start from $1649 in Australia, while the entry-level 11-inch model will come in at $130 cheaper than 2020 at $1199.
The top price of the top iPads will rise in 2021, however, thanks to the new two terabyte offering, making the devices as expensive as an eye-watering $3299.
FIND MY GEAR
Apple fans have been talking about these seemingly mythical devices for years but Apple has finally confirmed and shown off AirTags.
These tiny gadgets — small, round, battery-powered, able to fit in keyfob-like accessories — are designed to track everyday items using Apple technology.
AirTags will connect to smartphones and tablets using Bluetooth so users can track exactly where their camera, keys, hairbrush, TV remote control or any other attached device has ended up.
However, Apple revealed it would also use other technology inside iPhone 12 handsets, including the accelerometer and audio feedback, to literally point users in the direction of their items with arrows rather than just using a sound.
AirTags, which will launch on April 30, will also benefit from recent changes to Apple’s Find My Network Accessory Program that will support tags from third parties.
The tiny devices will be available for $45 in Australia, with a four-pack costing $149.
SURPRISE COMPUTER OVERHAUL
To everyone who thought Apple would wait until its Worldwide Developers Conference to upgrade its largest computers, the company said “surprise!”
Its newly unveiled iMacs arrive in a choice of seven colours with seriously slim exteriors.
The desktop computer achieves this using Apple Silicon — the M1 chip that transformed the Apple MacBook Air and MacBook Pro late last year — and a new cooling system that promises to stay under 10 decibels when the machine warms up.
In a nod to 2021, the iMac features a full high-definition FaceTime camera with a bigger sensor for better videoconferencing in dim light, as well as a better sound system.
Apple’s colourful new desktop computers — which feature more subtle colour on their fronts, and bolder colours out back — also feature screens with TrueTone colour and 4.5K resolutions.
Other changes include a magnetic, colour-matched power cable, and a power brick into which you can plug an Ethernet cable, support for a 6K display, up to four USB-C ports, and a new keyboard accessory with a TouchID fingerprint sensor.
It will launch in stores in late May, with prices starting at $1899 in Australia.
ONE OR TWO MORE THINGS
As predicted by some, Apple’s little black box that sits beneath the telly also got a big upgrade.
Apple TV 4K will get a big performance boost thanks to an A12 Bionic chip, an overhauled remote control that will rely on Siri, support for 4K HDR footage, and an innovative new colour balance feature that uses an iPhone to measure the TV’s output. The new Apple TV 4K will launch in late May.
Other surprises included a new purple edition of the iPhone 12 an iPhone 12 Mini (complete with Willy Wonka theme music), and an overhaul of Apple’s Podcast app.
WHAT WAS MISSING
Those who were hoping to see third generation AirPods sound off, a new iPad Mini pop up, or any smart spectacles this morning will have been disappointed.
Though Apple showed off more devices than expected — especially with the new iMac — it couldn’t meet all the rumours.
More will appear at its Worldwide Developers Conference in June, however, where those Google Glass competitors are strongly tipped for an appearance.