This story is part of Apple Event, our full coverage of the latest news from Apple headquarters.
Spring has well and truly sprung. The Apple Store is down in advance of the company’s “Spring Loaded” event, Apple’s first big launch of 2021, which kicks off at 10 a.m. PT (1 p.m. ET) today. We’re predicting new iPads and iMacs, and the tech giant is expected to offer minor hardware updates for iPads and major software upgrades for iPads and iPhones. Any new iMac computers could be powered by some variant of Apple’s new in-house M1 chips. And if we’re lucky, we might even see the long-rumored AirTags tracking accessories.
CNET’s preshow for the “Spring Loaded” event starts at 9:30 a.m. PT. Join us here to hash over the expectations and the rumors.
Apple wants to make sure you’re loaded up for the spring.
Apple’s 10 a.m. PT event will be streamed through the company’s website as part of its all-digital strategy amid the pandemic. The virtual announcement presentations have allowed Apple to stick to its schedule of holding events in the spring, summer and fall. In 2020, as the pandemic took hold, Apple made its Worldwide Developers Conference online-only, with slickly edited videos adding to the typical stage presentation format for its June event. This year’s WWDC, scheduled to start June 7, will also be online-only.
Today’s announcements are rumored to focus on the iPad’s speed and its screen. Apple’s expected to upgrade the chips powering its iPads and to introduce a new screen technology called mini-LED, which display makers say offers improved power efficiency and better brightness. Apple is rumored to be transitioning its MacBook laptops and iMac desktops to the technology sometime later as well. Modern iPhones use OLED screens, which are considered higher quality but typically cost more money to make.
What we expect from Apple’s 2021 Spring Loaded event
Alongside the iPads, Apple’s expected to announce its plans to deliver iOS 14.5, a major software update that offers new emoji, ways to unlock a phone with your Apple Watch instead of your face, and big privacy changes. The new software, which will be made available as a free download, will require apps to ask permission in order to use tracking technology that collect information about users across various apps and websites.
Facebook in particular criticized Apple’s new initiative, called App Tracking Transparency, saying it’ll increase advertising costs. To make its case, Facebook took out ads in the Wall Street Journal, New York Times and Washington Post to argue against the move. Apple’s said it plans to release iOS 14.5 in the coming weeks.
Read more: The iPad is great for art, games and movies. Apple wants it to be more
The tech giant may also offer entirely new products, rumored to be called AirTags. The devices are little trackers you can attach to backpacks, purses, toys or whatever else, so you can locate them using the iPhone’s “Find My” app. Samsung beat Apple to market with its $40 SmartTag devices, announced in January. Other companies make similar devices too, including Tile and TrackR.
Apple’s online-only event will be held on April 20 at 10 a.m. PT, 1 p.m. ET, 6 p.m. BST and April 21 at 3 a.m. AEST (Sorry, Australia).
You’ll be able to stream Apple’s event straight from the company’s website.
What we can expect
Apple’s digital events are fast paced and slickly produced. And there are at least one or two jokes thrown in to keep you entertained.
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