Time flies. It’s time for an Apple Event again. And this time it was Spring Loaded, literally. With its new range of iPads, Macs, and other exciting devices, the tech giant Apple has again captured the imagination of the public and tech media.
CEO Tim Cook said that Apple plans to be carbon neutral by 2030, calling its first launch of the year an annual Earth Day initiative. The company introduced a bunch of new products including the much-awaited AirTags, upgraded iMacs with the M1 chip, the new Apple TV 4K, a new color for the iPhone 12, and the 12 Mini alongside the new iPad Pros.
Apple AirTags are these new tiny coin-shaped accessories that utilize Ultra-wideband (UWB) technology to locate your items. A U1 chip beneath enables it to locate Apple products, including iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watches easily. The U1 chip first emerged in the iPhone 11 series. AirTags help you locate a device using an audible beep when they are in the range of the Bluetooth it is attached to. In addition to connectivity through NFC and Bluetooth LE, they also feature an accelerometer for what Apple calls it Precision Finding.
Connecting them with an iPhone is as easy as bringing them near to the iPhone. The Find My app tells you the AirTag’s current and last locations. Their system uses Precision Finding, which incorporates camera input, ARKit, accelerometer, and gyroscope input to help the user find an item. AirTag is designed to find things, not people, Apple adds to the Find My network.
AirTags are priced at Rs. 3,190 for one and Rs. 10,900 for a four pack in India. In the US, AirTag trackers start at $29 for a pack of one, and $99 for a pack of four.
iMac with Apple M1
Soon after the introduction of the new MacBooks with the Apple M1 chip, the iMacs now get upgraded to the M1 silicon as well. The M1-based iMac features a brand new design, and is available in four colors for the base variant – Blue, Green, Red, Silver, while the two higher-end models enjoy Yellow, Orange, and Purple, in addition. Apple’s 24-inch iMac showcases a 4.5K Retina (4480×2520 pixels) screen with True Tone technology for color balance, and 500 nits peak brightness.
With the M1 chip, users can now enjoy a truckload of performance in a slimmer form factor on the new iMacs. Thanks to its ARM-based design and the system-on-chip, the size of the logic board has been reduced and now requires a much smaller thermal system. The single fan has been replaced by two smaller ones in the new AIO, which makes it up to 50 percent quieter (10 dB). You now get all the M1 benefits, which include: up to 85 percent faster CPU performance than older 21.5-inch models, up to 2x faster GPU performance, and up to 3x faster machine learning performance for your everyday tasks. That being said, you do again miss out on e-GPU support which was enabled by the older Intel chipsets.
Alongside the M1 chip, these new iMacs now come with upgraded 1080p webcams which use the M1’s neural engine for face detection and better exposure. The sensor size of the camera is also vastly larger which should enable much more engaging video chats. There are three microphones as well, studio quality in Apple’s parlance. Additionally, there are six speakers with Dolby Atmos certification that includes self-canceling woofers alongside high-performance tweeters, a multi-mic array, and beamforming tech. End-to-end, Apple says this is the best audio experience on a Mac, and there is no reason to doubt them.
The new machine now supports up to a 6K display, with a new easy-to-connect magnetic power connector which has a woven cable and an adapter that integrates the Ethernet port to save space and avoid clutter on your table. The M1 powered 24-inch iMac offers up to 16GB of unified memory, 1TB of SSD storage, Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5, and two Thunderbolt/ or USB 4 ports with the base variant.
Apple also has a new Magic Keyboard, offered also in a version that has touch ID. There is also a new magic mouse and trackpad, unfortunately though Apple hasn’t changed the shambolic positioning of the lightning cable for the mouse.
At best, the new iMac is a solid improvement over the previous models. But purely in terms of performance, this is not a massive leap over what one can get with Intel and AMD-based solutions for desktops. Likely, there will be a more powerful version of the M1 chipset which will provide more “pro grade” performance.
The new M1 iMac starts at $1,299 in the US for the 8-core CPU, 7-core GPU, 256GB storage model. In India, the pricing for the base variant starts at Rs. 1,19,900, is priced at Rs. 1,39,000 for the 8-core CPU, 8-core GPU, 256GB storage model and carries a price tag of Rs. 1,59,000 for the 8-core CPU, 8-core GPU, 512GB storage model. The upper models are priced at $1,499 and $1,699 respectively.
The iPad Pro gets an M1 upgrade as well. The new models come in similar 11-inch and 12.9-inch sizes. However, the 12.9-inch model now differentiates itself more than ever by featuring a Liquid Retina XDR mini-LED display with over 10,000 LEDs. The iPad Pro can now be connected to 5G networks, with support for mmWave in the US.
Interestingly, the USB Type-C port on the iPad Pro now gets Thunderbolt and USB 4 which, which can allow for up to 4 times the bandwidth for wired connections, compared to the previous generation iPad Pro models. As a bonus, users can now connect the iPad Pro to higher resolution external displays, such as the Pro Display XDR.
There’s an interesting upgrade on the front as well. The new iPad Pro flaunts a 12-megapixel ultra-wide-angle lens with Center Stage, that can use the ultra-wide field of view and pan the camera around to keep the subject in the shot. The iPad Pro now enjoys the goodness of the M1 chip as well, it gets Smart HDR 3 thanks to the ISP and Neural Engine in the M1 processor.
The iPad has a larger capacity battery than the MacBook Air, so does it mean that it will last longer than the Macbook on a single charge? Well, the answer isn’t straightforward. The iPad Pros have a smoother 120Hz screen which drains the battery at a much larger rate than the 60Hz panel on the MacBook Air. It is also a much brighter screen.The larger screen size on the MacBook and the 120Hz panel on the iPad cancels out the battery drain differences. The M1 chip even though is based on a 5nm manufacturing process is also something that’s more powerful and is likely to be a power hog so overall, it remains to be seen if the iPad Pro can improve upon the 18 hour battery life of the MacBook Air. Apple for its part remains coy and says that it will provide all-day battery life which in the past has meant 10-hours.
While the iPad Pro gets the new M1, we think that wouldn’t make a much larger difference on the performance side of things such as launching apps and games, after all, it runs on the same iPadOS. Yes, you could notice the difference while performing CPU-heavy tasks such as video rendering with Luma Fusion on the iPad, but unless Apple drops iPadOS for the iPads and shifts it to macOS. That being said, already, iPadOS is very capable and with WWDC 2021 on the horizon there could be some big updates for the OS. It should also be noted now, Macs and iPads run the same type of applications as now they have chipsets based on the ARM architecture which means in terms of capability, everything from an iPad to an iMac is on a level playing field.
The 11-inch iPad Pro has been priced at $799 for the Wi-Fi model and $999 for the Wi-Fi + Cellular model in the US. The 12.9-inch iPad Pro starts at $1,099 for the Wi-Fi-only model and $1,299 for the Wi-Fi + Cellular model. In India, the 11-inch iPad Pro starts at Rs. 71,900 for the 128GB Wi-Fi model, is priced at Rs. 85,900 for the 128GB Wi-Fi + Cellular model. The 12.9-inch iPad Pro on the other hand starts at Rs. 99,900 for the 128GB Wi-Fi model is priced at Rs. 1,13,900 for the Wi-Fi + Cellular model.
Apple TV 4K
Last but not the least, Apple also introduced the new Apple TV 4K featuring Apple’s own A12 Bionic processor, the same chipset seen on the iPhone XS. With support for High Frame Rate HDR, the new Apple TV 4K provides several improvements over its predecessor.
There’s this interesting new Colour Balance feature, which lets Apple TV 4K users with iPhones adjust the color balance of their televisions without them having to do it manually. The iPhone is to be held up to a specific spot on the TV with the light sensor on its back, and then calibration is accomplished by measuring and calibrating the iPhone’s color output.
Also included with the new Apple TV 4K is a Siri Remote, which can be purchased separately. It has a touch-enabled click pad, an outer ring that senses circular motion to go forward and backward in videos, a new power button that controls the TV, and a Siri button that is now located on the side.
The new Apple TV 4K is priced at $179 for the 32GB storage model, $199 for the 64GB model in the US. In India, it starts at Rs. 18,900 and goes up to Rs. 20,900. The new Siri Remote carries a price tag of Rs. 5,800 in India.
That said, The new iPad Pros and the iMacs won’t be the perfect computing devices for everyone, particularly if the tasks rely hugely on the GPU. Mostly, Apple has launched products for the masses here — even in the case of the iPad Pro, it is a product for someone who loves a tablet and wants to do heavy-duty tasks on the go. But for real pros and creators or gamers, there wasn’t much — but that may happen when Apple unveils the successor to the M1 platform, which will likely happen at some point this year.