Earlier this week, Apple announced a virtual product event planned for April 20th. All jokes about “420” aside, the event should be rather mellow and low-key. Looking into my tie-dyed crystal ball, here’s what I think we’ll see at the “Spring Loaded” event.
Mini LED 12.9-inch iPad Pro
Most pundits agree that the big news at the “Spring Loaded” event is going to be a 12.9-inch iPad Pro boasting a Mini LED display. What’s so great about a Mini LED display? Compared to OLED displays, Mini LED provides deeper blacks, a higher contrast ratio, and – most importantly for creative professionals – higher luminance and a wider color gamut.
Mini LED also offers advantages over OLED in that it is much less susceptible to screen burn-in issues and has a longer lifetime. On the bad side, apparently Apple’s suppliers are having production issues so these new models may be in short supply for a while.
Other than a more impressive display, what else can we expect from the new iPad Pro? How about an A14X Apple Silicon System-on-Chip that rivals the M1 used in the latest Macs? In addition, support for Thunderbolt connectivity should appear for the first time on Apple’s pro tablet. My speculation is that both iPad Pros offer 5G connectivity for the first time.
New 11-inch iPad Pro at the Spring Loaded Event
The 11-inch model will see a refresh as well at the Spring Loaded event Don’t expect the Mini LED display on the smaller Pro. Chances are good that it will have the same processor and Thunderbolt connectivity expected for the 12.9-inch model. Apple may tout the 12.9-inch iPad Pro as an excellent second screen for a Mac, and the 11-inch is just too small to get the Mini LED upgrade.
Randomized Serial Numbers
Wow, here’s a big announcement! Apple plans to go to randomized serial numbers for all its products starting with the new product announcements. Why is this a “big deal”? In the past, Apple device serial numbers have been rather easy to decode as they contain information about model, place and time of manufacture, and so on. That information is dissected by Apple analysts who make educated guesses on how many of a particular product has been sold.
Rather than make it easy for analysts to pick apart info and breathlessly announced that a product is a runaway success or abject failure, Apple won’t tie production info into serial numbers anymore.
AirTags Finally Arrive at the Spring Loaded Event
OK, we’ve expected AirTags – an Apple-designed tracking tag that can be attached to anything to pinpoint its location – for about the last year. Chances are good that AirTags are on the stage at the Apple event this time. You’ll be able to use the “Find My” app on your other Apple products to find any AirTagged object.
Put it on your bike, a backpack, connect it to a car or trailer, throw one in a wallet or purse, or on the kids’ jacket zippers. Whenever an AirTag comes into range of any of the billions of Apple devices on the planet, the tag pings the “Find My” system and you instantly know of its location. The Apple device that receives and transmits the ping to the rest of the world never knows who that tag belonged to or what it was attached to.
The tags are expected to be about the diameter of an American 50¢ coin and about three times the thickness, containing a rechargeable battery. Expect AirTags to cost about $39 each.
Apple Watch Bands
It’s spring, so Apple will definitely bring on the new fashion bands for the 2021 season. Expect seasonal bands, new colors for the solo loop bands, and perhaps a new style of band. Being 4/20, I’ll be sad if there isn’t a tie-dye band…