Apple gave the news of the “Spring Loaded” event, which will be the first major product announcement of 2021, within the week. Apple’s online event will start on Tuesday, April 20.
In retrospect, unlike many Apple events, spring promotions are a bit more messy. One year we saw the introduction of high-end iPads, another year a slightly more education-oriented event, or another year the introduction of new services. This year, the rumors point to an iPad Pro lineup that will be refreshed with Apple’s first Mini LED panels. This is a huge leap forward for the company’s tablet screens. We can also see new AirPods, the company’s long-rumored AirTag trackers, a new iPad Mini, and more.
By the way, even the image Apple uses for the Spring Loaded event actually speaks something. A similar pattern was used in the event held last September, where we saw the Apple Watch, iPad 8th Generation and iPad Air, this time with blue tones.
We will see everything from 20:00 on Tuesday evening. However, we recommend that you read the rest of the article for the innovations and announcements you will most likely see at this event.
A little over a year has passed since Apple last refreshed the iPad Pro. Announced in March of last year, the 2020 model iPad Pro was a version of the model we saw in the fall of 2018, further strengthened with various arrangements. Compared to Apple’s latest iPhones or M1 Macs, the differences with the previous generation were not much. The situation is expected to be slightly different this year.
Like last year, Apple is expected to release both 11-inch and 12.9-inch iPad Pro models. However, the larger iPad Pro is said to be the first to launch Apple’s Mini LED display in a product, and the company will make a significant leap forward in display technology. Additional rumors suggest that Mini LED panels may be difficult to procure, the larger-sized model’s stock may be limited at launch, or Apple may delay the release of the 12.9-inch version until it gets better.
A report published by Bloomberg also sheds light on what can be expected. While the overall design of the two tablets is expected to remain substantially the same as last year’s model, Apple is expected to replace the A12Z chip with a newer processor. This will be on par with the newer M1 chipset. It is also said that the new iPads will have a Thunderbolt port with faster data rates and a wider choice of peripherals than the standard USB-C port. Cameras will also be upgraded.
Apple may also be working on a new Apple Pencil accessory to be used with the new iPad Pros. Images of a shiny new version of this stylus are circulating on Twitter. There are signs that Apple may offer a spring-loaded nib like Wacom offers in its pens.
One of Apple’s most leaking products for years is AirTags, which are Tile-like item tracking devices. Regarding their release, something has been written and drawn before nearly every Apple event since the beginning of 2019. These are said to be small, circular tags with Bluetooth and ultra-broadband radio chips. Said to be called AirTags, these accessories will rely on Apple’s existing Finder app and the iPhone, iPad and Mac network to allow users to track and find lost objects. The method currently used to find iPhone, iPad or Mac computers will be used.
AirTags can work with the U1 chip found in recently released iPhone models to allow for augmented reality-based ultra-wideband monitoring in near surroundings. This is similar to the feature Samsung recently launched with the Galaxy SmartTag Plus.
On the other hand, we’ve also seen an official support video that clearly reveals the name “AirTags” in iOS code leaks, lots of rumors, and even as part of the offline discovery feature introduced last year. Now one thing is left, and that is Apple’s official announcement of this product.
One of the products that has not been renewed for a long time is the iPad mini, which was last renewed two years ago in March 2019. In fact, considering that this current model comes four years after its predecessor, we can think that this last period in between is not very long. The latest iPad mini, released in March 2019, had up-to-date features like the Apple A12 processor and so on. So Apple can offer more up-to-date features with a new iPad mini.
Both Bloomberg and Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo pointed to a larger-screen iPad mini for 2021. We can see a new compact Apple tablet with an 8.5-inch screen, with the thicker bezels in the design we’ve seen since 2012, slightly thinner.
Rumors about third-generation Apple AirPods, similar to the current AirPods Pro design, with a shorter body and designed to include replaceable ear tips, have been around for months. The updated AirPods are also said to have better battery life than their predecessors. It is also said that Apple is working on a renewed AirPods Pro design that will completely remove the headphone body part. However, as Bloomberg’s report points out, this redesign may come further. For this reason, it is necessary not to expect this in the event on Tuesday.
Apple TV 4K stands in a strange place in Apple’s product line. The 4K-powered product, launched in 2017, is one of the oldest Apple products currently on sale. Especially abroad, there are many competitive products offered at a more affordable price against Apple TV 4K. For this reason, it is said that it is now time for Apple to renew.
Apple is said to be working on a renewed model for 2021. This model will feature a remote control and a faster processor to replace the Siri Remote. Support for HDMI 2.1 and 120Hz refresh rates is also among the expectations. But Apple TV 4K needs more than just new features, at a more competitive price. Let’s see if Apple will take a radical step on that side as well.
Considering the release speed of both developer and public betas, it seems certain that Apple will officially release iOS 14.5 during or right after the event. The new version will introduce an easy unlocking of the iPhone via an Apple Watch on the wrist while wearing a face mask, new emoji, and especially the controversial App Watch Transparency feature, which angered Facebook.
New MacBook, iMac or Mac Pro?
We saw Apple’s first Apple Silicon-powered computers with the M1 processor MacBook Air, MacBook Pro and Mac Mini last fall. After these computers received surprisingly good reviews and were seen as successful, all eyes turned to Apple’s next step in its transition to ARM-based processors. The company is said to be working on several new Mac models as it strives to meet Intel’s ambitious goal of fully transitioning its chips within two years. Among them appear to be the more powerful MacBook Pro models that have abandoned the Touch Bar, have MagSafe and have returned additional ports and feature an improved M-series chip. A new iMac and a smaller Mac Pro (also with M-series chips) are also said to be in the works.
However, it seems likely that Apple will save the innovations on the Mac side to WWDC to be held in June. That event will be a little more developer-focused and a more suitable environment for the announcement of the devices that developers will work on.
Any other surprise?
In fact, with the products listed above, the agenda of the Apple Spring Loaded event will be quite full. Recently, rumors about the VR headset, Apple Car or a new iPhone SE model have been circulating. However, it seems very unlikely to see an announcement about them.