On Tuesday, Apple held a keynote event it dubbed "Spring Loaded." At said event, the Cupertino, California company announced several new products and product updates.
Multicolored iMacs are back (now with M1 processors)
The iMac line is getting an overhaul. Not only are they (like the new Mac Mini and MacBooks) now using the M1 chip, but they're also now available in multiple colors: green, yellow, orange, pink, purple, blue, and silver.
On the technical side, the new iMac comes with:
- A 24-inch, 4.5K Retina display.
- A new 1080p webcam.
- A magnetic power cable.
- A thinner case.
- TouchID support on a new line of keyboards (sold separately).
The new iMac starts with 8GB RAM and a 256GB SSD, with a starting price of $1299; a higher end model starts at $1,499. The cheaper model offers a choice of four colors, while all seven colors are offered with the pricier model.
Longtime Mac users will remember the multicolored CRT iMacs Apple sold at the turn of the millennium, starting with the very first iMac introduced in 1998; the "Bondi Blue" colored machine helped revitalize Apple's then-ailing fortunes. The colorful iMacs became the face of Apple in mainstream culture until the iPod came along. Even the comic strip "FoxTrot" got a week's worth of strips out of making fun of the "iFruit." I didn't think multicolored Macs would ever make a comeback, but here we are. I doubt we'll see the "Flower Power" colored iMac return, however; the color scheme wasn't a big seller (for obvious reasons), and at this point, most people weren't alive during the 1960s, let alone hold nostalgia for the decade.
Much as I'd like one of the new iMacs, I don't have the money for such. I also already have a stand-alone monitor, so I'm more in the market for a Mac Mini. (Plugging the monitor into my mostly-deskbound Linux/Windows dual-boot laptop works OK, but feels a bit clunky.)
Apple has videos on YouTube promoting the new iMacs. Note the brief plug for Apple TV+ (and the animated feature film "Wolfwalkers"), as well as the (pandemic-era) emphasis on the new webcam features.
The iPad Pro also now has an M1 chip
The high-end iPad Pro line also now has an M1 processor. The upgraded tablet comes in two models, 11 inches (starting at $799) and 12.9 inches (starting at $1,099). Apple also upgraded the iPad Pro's webcam.
This iPad's aimed at professionals, or those that need a lot of horsepower/features out of an iPad. I'm at the opposite end of that. I still have my two-year-old entry-level iPad; I use it for watching videos, along with reading digital comics and ebooks.
Apple announces AirTags
Apple also unveiled the "AirTag," small circular devices that use the Find My app to track any item on which the AirTags are attached. They're sold for $29 each, or in a package of four for $99.
Not much to say about this one. It might be useful for someone worried about losing an object (say, their keys), or in a warehouse/storage situation.
Apple Podcasts now offers paid subscriptions for creators, listeners
Podcast creators now have a new source of revenue available. Apple is now offering a paid subscription tier for podcast creators in the Podcasts app. Through in app subscriptions, listeners can download whatever the creator offers: bonus podcasts, early access, and so on. Subscribing to a creator's paid tier can be done by clicking a button in the revamped Podcasts app.
Obviously this is Apple's attempt to compete with Spotify, as well as monetize Apple's own podcast app. Podcast creators using the service must pay $20/year for the service; additionally, Apple takes 30% of revenue from a subscriber's first year, and 15% for each additional year. That alone probably makes this service a no-go for smaller podcast creators; it's a rather hefty cut, especially compared to just using Patreon or Ko-fi. I have the same complaint about Apple's similar 30% cut for in-app purchase revenue, though they've recently reduced that to 15% for smaller app developers (likely to avoid growing antitrust concerns).
That said, Apple's advantage (and what it's counting on) is convenience. Users don't need to go to Patreon to support the podcast creator; instead, they can just use the built-in button in the Podcasts app.
The Apple TV (and its remote) get an update
Apple's updated the Apple TV streaming device. While it's still not remotely competitive pricewise with Roku, Chromecast or Fire TV devices, the new Apple TV now contains an A12 chip (the same one in the iPhone XR from a few years ago) and supports 4K HDR at higher frame rates.
The Apple remote's also been revamped. Online comments suggest it'll be a lot more popular than the old remote.
The new Apple TV starts at a 32GB capacity for $179, or 64GB for $199. The old Apple TV will also stay on sale, at $149 (though it only supports 1080p resolution). Again, you can buy a top-end rival device that supports 4K and offers the Apple TV app for less than what even the $149 Apple TV runs. Unless you're an all-Apple device household and that dedicated to Apple's ecosystem, I'd look elsewhere.
A purple iPhone 12
Finally, Apple's announced a new color for the iPhone 12: purple. It looks nice?
Photo of 2021 iMac line. (Apple)