Welcome to our monthly Apple News Roundup. This column recaps the top 10 biggest Apple news announcements from each month. This edition features the highlights from May of 2021.
1. Apple awards $410 million to support manufacturing jobs
This award from Apple’s Advanced Manufacturing Fund to II-VI will accelerate the production of future iPhone components and support more than 700 jobs in Texas, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Illinois. II-VI is a part of Apple’s Clean Energy Program, which was designed to advance the use of renewable energy across the company’s supply chain. “We established Apple’s Advanced Manufacturing Fund to support American businesses creating next-generation technology and the jobs of tomorrow,” said Jeff Williams, Apple’s chief operating officer.
2. Apple faces off in court with Epic Games
On May 3rd, Epic Games, the maker of the popular game Fortnite, hit Apple with an antitrust lawsuit that could shape how the company does business moving forward. The federal civil trial was held in Oakland, CA, and focused on Apple’s control over its App Store — being that it’s the only way the app developers can reach the world’s 1.5 billion iPhone and iPad users. After the European Commission charged Apple with abusing its control of the App Store, Epic argued that Apple illegally tied access to the App Store to the use of its payment system, which takes a 30 percent commission out of most sales.
3. New iPhone privacy features
The smartphone software received an update that is now asking users if they want to allow apps to track their digital activity. Moving forward, for any app on an iPhone or iPad, Apple requires the app developer to ask permission before using your IDFA (Identifier for Advertisers). The question pops up for each app – similarly to other privacy prompts. Action items for users include making sure your iPhone’s software is updated to iOS 14.5 in the settings app.
4. Apple awards Corning $45 million
Apple’s innovation and investment fueled the creation of Ceramic Shield for the iPhone 12 lineup – which helped facilitate research and development into the state-of-the-art glass process. This new funding will continue to expand Corning’s manufacturing capacity in the US and drive research and development into innovative new technologies. “Apple and Corning have a long history of working together to accomplish the impossible,” said Jeff Williams, Apple’s chief operating officer.
5. The next generation of Apple Music
Apple Music announced Spatial Audio with Dolby Atmos and Lossless Audio – this industry-leading sound quality will be available to subscribers in June 2021 at no additional cost. Spatial Audio allows artists to create immersive audio experiences with multidimensional sound and clarity. Apple Music subscribers will also have access to over 75 million songs in Lossless Audio – the way artists created them in the studio.
6. New accessibility updates
On May 19th, Apple announced a variety of new and updated features for people with disabilities. Customers now have access to the new “SignTime” sign language interpreter service and can contact AppleCare and retail customer care through their web browsers. Additional software updates are expected later this year – the improved options include Assistive Touch, VoiceOver, hearing aid support, and background sounds.
7. Introducing Apple Watch Pride Edition bands
In an effort to support and celebrate the LGBTQ+ movement, Apple introduced a new Pride Edition watchband. The braided solo loop represents the breadth of LGBTQ+ communities and experiences, and the dynamic watch face incorporates colors inspired by multiple Pride flags. Apple is proud to build on its long-running financial support for LGBTQ+ advocacy organizations and is working to bring about positive change.
8. New iMac, iPad Pro, and Apple TV 4K hit stores
Following their spring-loaded event in April, Apple’s latest and greatest devices became available at resellers on May 21st. Among the lineup were the new AirTags and the purple iPhone 12. The new iMac boasts a sleek design, powerful M1 processor, bold color scheme, and a 24-inch screen. The iPad Pro tablet features a new mini-LED Liquid Retina XDR display, M1 processor, and Thunderbolt port. The new Apple TV 4K’s update includes a faster processor, a color calibration tool, and a redesigned remote control.
9. Apple TV’s new Siri Remote
With the recent update to the Apple TV 4K came the anticipated release of the new Siri Remote. The redesigned remote is bigger, so it won’t get lost as easily, and the previous touchpad has been completely ditched. The revamped design also comes with new buttons and added functionality, including a power button. The new remote is sold on its own and works with the Apple TV HD and the original Apple TV 4K – meaning you can upgrade your Siri Remote without having to buy a new Apple TV.
10. WWDC21 program revealed
On May 24th, Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference program was revealed – the annual event kicks off on June 7th. The program will be available for free to more than 30 million Apple developers from 227 regions around the globe. Apple unveiled the timing of the keynote and Platforms State of the Union and shared information on how developers will be able to learn about the future of iOS, iPadOS, macOS, tvOS, and watchOS. WWDC21 will bring together the Apple developer community and offer an opportunity to engage directly with Apple engineers.