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Apple held its first hardware event of 2021 on Tuesday, giving a jam-packed, hour-long rundown of new products. Some of the updates were fairly minor, such as the addition of a purple-colored iPhone 12 model and news that the second season of Apple’s acclaimed TV series Ted Lasso would debut on July 23.
Here are some of the more significant announcements from the Apple event:
New Apple TV and Apple TV remote
Apple hadn’t updated its video streaming set-top box since 2017, and the device was running a chip made for iPhones that came out in 2016. The new Apple TV 4K box includes an A12 Bionic chip, which was used in 2018 iPhones, and adds support for Dolby’s latest technology to improve picture quality, known as Dolby Vision.
The new Apple TV looks much like its predecessor—a black box with rounded corners that is about the size of a small book. But Apple overhauled the design of the Apple TV’s remote control, which had been a target of criticism. The new remote has a defined clickpad for navigating Apple TV’s on-screen software and adds dedicated buttons to mute and power on or off the attached TV set.
Family credit card plan
One unexpected update that came early in the presentation from CEO Tim Cook added features to Apple’s credit card. Calling the expanded program “Apple Card Family,” Cook said Apple would now allow two adults to share a card with one line of credit that would build the credit history for both people. Some joint credit card accounts track only the credit history of the primary holder, not building the credit score of the second person. Existing card holders can choose to merge two accounts to create a shared account, Apple said.
The new program also adds special features for kids. Adults can grant a card to a child, tracking all usage on their phone and imposing spending limits if desired. All users must be age 13 or older.
New iMacs on Apple chips
Apple debuted the first major change to its popular iMac desktop computer’s exterior since 2012. The new lineup features a 24-inch screen and a thinner metal body, losing the rounded sides of older models for the boxy look similar to recent iPhones and iPads. The 21.5-inch and 27-inch options of the prior lineup are being dropped, though a larger screen new model could arrive later this year..
Apple is offering seven colors for the new iMac: green, yellow, orange, pink, purple, blue, and silver. The choices hark back to the model’s early days in 1999 when former CEO Steve Jobs debuted five brightly colored iMac models. But influential YouTube tech reviewer Marques Brownlee immediately called the new design “ugly” and the color options “odd.”
The new iMac also dumps processors from Intel and uses processors developed by Apple that are similar to those in other Apple devices.
New iPad Pro with mini LED
Apple updated its most expensive tablet line, the iPad Pro, with speedier processors, 5G cellular service, a faster and more capable USB-C port, and a new screen technology. It still comes in the same two screen sizes, 11 inch and 12.9 inch, as the prior lineup.
The new iPads include the same M1 chip used in Apple’s new iMac, Mac Mini, and MacBook Pro computer. It also adds 5G modems capable of connecting to the new superfast wireless networks that AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile are rolling out across the country. Apple said the new iPads could approach download speeds of 4 gigabits per second under perfect conditions, fast enough to download an entire 4K movie in a few seconds. But very few parts of the country are equipped with 5G reaching that speed.
The larger-screen iPad includes a new display technology based on mini LEDs. Instead of just a few hundred LEDs under the screen, the new iPad screen has over 10,000 smaller LEDS, allowing finer control while saving battery power.
AirTags track lost items
Apple finally debuted its long rumored wireless tracking tags, called AirTags. The small discs can be attached to items like a keychain, backpack, or purse. If items are misplaced, a user can find where they are using the Find My app on the iPhone and make the tag sound an alert.
The tags will go on sale on April 25 for $29 each or $99 for a pack of four.
Pay for podcasts
Apple helped start the podcast boom two decades ago when it added the audio format to its iTunes store. Now, in what Apple called its biggest overhaul ever, it’s updating its podcast app, adding channels that will feature podcasts with a common theme, and letting podcast makers charge for subscriptions for the first time.