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Apple News Roundup: First Quarter 2021

Welcome to the first edition of Rocket Yard’s Apple News Roundup. This column provides a quick recap of some of the biggest Apple news announcements from each month. To kick us off, here are ten highlights from the first quarter of 2021.


AirPods Pro 2 and third-generation iPhone SE 

AirPods Pro

According to 9to5Mac, Apple is rumored to be releasing AirPods Pro 2 in April of 2021. Sources say that the new AirPods Pro will feature a “new design for the charging case,” which would measure slightly smaller in width in comparison to the current model, for a more compact design. Rumors also suggest that Apple is working on a larger version of the iPhone SE with a 5.5-inch display and a similar design to the iPhone 8 Plus, also slated for an April release. 


‘Time to Walk’ feature for Apple Watch and Fitness+

Apple fitness+ icon

Apple officially launched its new Time to Walk feature for Apple Watch and Apple Fitness+ subscribers in January. According to an Apple press release, this new feature offers “an inspiring new audio walking experience on Apple Watch for Fitness+ subscribers.” The feature encourages users to walk more often and Apple launched four episodes starring Dolly Parton, NBA player Draymond Green, Musician Shawn Mendez, and Emmy Award winner Uzo Aduba. 


Data Privacy Day

Apple privacy lock logo

On January 28th, Apple hosted a “Data Privacy Day” in an effort to raise awareness about the importance of protecting personal information online. They commemorated the event by sharing “A Day in the Life of Your Data,” a report that illustrates how companies track user data across websites and apps. Apple also shared how privacy features across their product line will provide more transparency and empower people with the tools they need to protect their personal information. 


Racial equality and justice initiative projects

Propel Center rendering

On January 13th, Apple announced a $100 million pledge to include a first-of-its-kind education hub for HBCUs and an Apple Developer Academy in Detroit. Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO, said that they were committed to empowering communities that have been facing discrimination for too long. Apple is also working with Southern Company and other stakeholders to support the launch of the Propel Center, which will be the first-of-its-kind learning hub for the HBCU community, located in the Atlanta University Center. 


Apple reports a blowout quarter

Apple iOS iPadOS Stocks App icon

According to CNBC: “Apple delivered its largest quarter by revenue of all time on Wednesday at $111.4 billion in its first-quarter earnings report for fiscal 2021.” It was the first time that Apple crossed the $100 billion mark in a single quarter. Sales were up 21% year over year and every product category rose by double-digit percentage points. 


New iPad mini to feature 8.4-inch display 

iPad mini 5th generation

According to 9to5Mac, Apple is rumored to be releasing a new 6th generation iPad mini with a larger display and smaller bezels in March. It is slated to feature a narrower frame similar to the iPad Air (3rd generation). In comparison, the current iPad mini has a 7.9-inch display. The bezels will be located on the top and bottom with a home button and Touch ID, along with Lightening connectivity on the bottom. 


iPhone camera lens updates

iPhone 11 3 Lenses

“iPhone camera lenses may not see significant hardware updates through at least 2022,” according to a new research note and predictions from analyst Ming-Chi Kuo seen by MacRumors. Kuo indicated that the structural challenges of the lens industry would need to first improve; however, Apple may still work on improvements to the overall camera performance, as well as release new features and improvements. 


Dan Riccio transitions to a new role at Apple

Apple's Dan Riccio

Apple announced on January 25th that Dan Riccio will transition to a new role focusing on a new project and reporting to CEO Tim Cook. Riccio has been working with Apple for more than two decades and has been a leader in designing, developing, and engineering many of Apple’s products. Following in his footsteps is John Ternus, who has been the vice president of hardware engineering since 2013.


Apple and Hyundai discuss Apple Car partnership

Apple Hyundai concept electric autonomous car

Apple is allegedly interested in working on a self-driving electric car in partnership with Hyundai Motor and hopes to reach a deal by March according to 9to5Mac. If the deal is met in March then production could begin on the cars as early as 2024, and their hope is to produce 100,000 vehicles. 


Apple urges security upgrade to iPhones and iPads

Security Shield

In a January 27th article, the Associated Press reported that Apple was urging iPhone and iPad users to update their devices to fix security flaws that may have been “exploited” by hackers. Apple quickly made the software upgrades available and said that the “vulnerabilities affected the kernel, which is the nerve system of Apple’s operating system, iOS.”

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