Apple's first event of 2021: Key announcements include new iMac, iPad Pro, AirTags and Apple TV 4K

Apple unveiled a new iMac in seven colors, an iPad Pro, AirTags and Apple TV 4K at the April 20 event.

Apple's 2021 Spring Loaded event: Key takeaways for business professionals

On Tuesday, at the first Apple event of the year, Apple unveiled a range of new products and refreshes. The biggest news was the new iMac , but AirTags and Apple TV 4K were also featured. 

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Image: Teena Maddox/TechRepublic

The event, which Apple named "Spring Loaded," began at 1 pm ET as a livestream from Apple's Cupertino, California headquarters. Apple CEO Tim Cook teased on Twitter by posting a rainbow image on Tuesday morning with a balloon rainbow, and said, "It's a beautiful spring morning for an #AppleEvent! See you soon." 

The rainbow foreshadowed a colorful array of products, including the iMac redesign in seven colors with accessories to match, and a new color of purple for the iPhone 12 and the iPhone 12 mini. The iMac debuted in seven colors: blue, green, pink, silver, yellow, orange and purple. 

SEE: IT hardware procurement policy (TechRepublic Premium download)

Here's everything that was announced on Tuesday:

iPhone 12 

The iPhone 12 series came out in September last year, but Cook announced that it will soon be available in a new shade: purple. Pre-orders start on Friday, and it will be available on April 30.

iMac

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The new iMac comes in seven colors.

Image: Teena Maddox/TechRepublic

In November, Apple announced the first set of Macs powered by the company's new ARM-based M1 system-on-chip (SoC) at its "One More Thing" event. The M1 MacBook AirMacBook Pro, and Mac mini were all unveiled. Now there's a new iMac. It comes in seven colors and uses the same M1 chip. The new iMac has an improved FaceTime camera with 1080p, better speakers and a three-microphone array, which make sense in this age of video conferencing. The sleek new iMac has a 24-inch display and at 11.5 mm is significantly thinner than the previous iMac, with the overall volume reduced by 50%.

It features a 4.5K Retina display with 11.3M pixels. It uses macOS Big Sur. It features a CPU that's 85% faster than the previous 21.5-inch iMac, and the GPU is 2x faster on some apps than the previous model. Apple highlighted several features during the event, such as how the iPhone and iMac can be used together, with calls coming through on the iMac, universal clipboard and hand off features. The power connector magnetically attaches to the back of the iMac, and there's an ethernet option on the power cube. There are also keyboards and trackpads color coordinated to match the iMac's rainbow of shades. 

The iMac can be pre-ordered on April 30 and will be available the second half of May. It's priced at $1,299 for an 8-core CPU and a 7-core GPU with 256GB storage and a Magic Keyboard, or $1,499 for an 8-core CPU and an 8-core GPU with 256GB of storage and also two USB 3 ports and gigabit ethernet as well as a Magic Keyboard with Touch ID, and $1,699 for an 8-core CPU and an 8-core GPU with 512GB of storage and all of the same features as the $1,499 model.

The $1,299 model is only available in blue, green, red and silver. The more expensive models are available in all seven shades, which include orange, purple and yellow in addition to the basic four. 

iPad Pro

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The new iPad Pro.

Image: Teena Maddox/TechRepublic

The new iPad Pro has the new Apple M1 chip, which makes sense because iPad OS is already built to accommodate the M1 chip. It includes an 8-core CPU to give 50% faster performance than the previous iPad Pro, and it's 75x faster than the first iPad. The new iPad Pro has 40% faster graphics than the previous iPad Pro and that's 1,500x faster than the first iPad. There's a 2TB version available. 

For connectivity, Thunderbolt is being added, and it works with existing USB-C connectors. There's also 5G on the new iPad Pro. The camera on the iPad Pro includes new features for video editing. Clips uses a light scanner to add special details to videos. There's a 12MP ultra wide camera to allow for a new tool called Center Stage. It uses machine learning to automatically pan and keep everyone in the shot. There is now a Liquid Retina XDR display on the 12.9-inch model. There is also an 11-inch version, but that doesn't include the Liquid Retina XDR display.

After watching the event, Tuong Nguyen, senior principal analyst at Gartner, said, "Interesting hints (teasers) at what they're doing with augmented reality in the iPad Pro video (LiDAR, depth camera, occlusion, measurement)."

Both sizes of the iPad Pro can be pre-ordered on April 30, and they will be available in the second half of May. The 11-inch starts at $799, and the 12.9-inch starts at $1,099. 

Apple Card Family

Apple Card will finally allow spouses and partners to share and merge their credit lines, and the card can be used for anyone in your family over the age of 13. Cook said, "This solution helps to deliver financial equity." 

Apple Podcasts

There will be an Apple Podcast subscription service that will launch in 170 countries and regions in May. There's also a redesigned app for Apple Podcasts.  

AirTag

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Apple partnered with Hermes to produce accessories for the AirTag. 

Image: Teena Maddox/TechRepublic

Apple launched its AirTag concept, and it uses Precision Finding in conjunction with Apple's Find My network to help people keep track of their items. The tags can be personalized with accessories and emojis. Hermes is doing a special series design as well, much like it did for the Apple Watch . The Hermes designs include a luggage tag and a keychain. Privacy features on the AirTag discourage unintentional tracking with unwanted tag detection and audible alerts. AirTags are $29 each, and a four pack is $99. Orders start on Friday, and they will be available on April 30. 

Nguyen said, "[The] AirTag announcement is interesting—Apple is joining others in this market (including Samsung w/their Galaxy SmartTags). This will increase the competitive situation for vendors with competing UWB [Ultra Wide-Band] and Bluetooth real time location tags who have iPhone customers. The bigger picture with this launch is about making the iPhone more essential."

Apple TV 4K

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Apple 4K TV and a refreshed Siri remote.

Image: Teena Maddox/TechRepublic

Apple TV 4K was announced. And Cook threw in a mention that a new season of "Ted Lasso" starring Jason Sudeikis will return on July 23. Apple TV 4K will feature color balance to help Apple TV work with an iPhone and an onscreen sensor to compare the TV's color balance with industry standards. If the color balance is off, Apple TV will tailor its video output to compensate for inaccuracy in the TV's settings. 

There's a redesigned Siri remote for Apple TV as well, with an array of new features. There's a new click pad with 5-way navigation for better accuracy, and the outer ring has a new circular gesture for better control of finding a scene. It can be used to operate the entire TV, since it now has a power button, and the Siri button is being moved to the side, much like on an iPhone 12. 

Nguyen said, "The AppleTV feature to help calibrate your shows using your iPhone also does this—makes your iPhone central do your life/activities."

Pre-orders for the new Apple TV 4K start on April 30, and it will be available the second half of May. Apple TV 4K is priced at $179 for the 32GB version and $199 for the 64GB model. 

What's next for Apple

There had been rumors that Apple would announce AirPods 3 and a new version of the Apple Pencil on Tuesday, but that could come at Apple's next event, slated for June 7. New iPhone models are typically released in September each year.

Also see

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Apple CEO Tim Cook on April 20.

Image: Teena Maddox/TechRepublic

By Teena Maddox

Teena Maddox is a former Associate Managing Editor at TechRepublic. She oversees TechRepublic's news team and TechRepublic Premium. She focuses on tech and business and how the two worlds intersect. Teena's lifelong journalism career has included wri...