September: Apple Watch and iPad. October: HomePod and iPhone. November: The Apple Silicon Macs. March: Crickets. But April, dear sweet April…
Now, I know some people are saying Apple doesn't host April events. They haven't done that in a decade ever since… iPhone OS4 in 2010. But in case you hadn't noticed, 2020/2021 are like Justice League and the Snyder Cut, and none of the old rules apply anymore.
Does this mean Apple needs an event? No, absolutely not. Especially if they're for iterative or upgrade products that are super easy to understand, barely an inconvenience. But if there are things that are new, things that are novel, things that require an explanation, it is just always better for Apple to do that in an event, especially now that they're hosting virtual events.
And it could be as soon as April sixth.
So let's say we start with the Apple TV. The biggest question right now is whether it would be one of those iterative updates. An A12X processor just crammed into the current box. So that box can better support things like compositing HDR content and the latest generation of Apple arcade games.
With an updated Siri remote that is just better, hopefully in every way, including with the U1 chip in it so that we can find it if, and when it inevitably gets lost under the sofa, in the sofa cushions. Also rumored is an actual Apple gaming controller, a gamepad.
The more audacious rumors are for a much higher-end Apple TV, one with an A14X processor, which would be roughly equivalent in power to what is currently in the M1 Macbook Air and Macbook Pro, something that would signal Apple taking entertainment, not just more seriously but gaming much, much more seriously maybe up to and including investing in AAA games and gaming studios. And I think that's one of those things where I'm gonna invoke the "I'll expect it when I see it" clause because even an A14X just wouldn't have Xbox Series S or Series X or PlayStation 5 GPU power, at least not as we currently imagine it.
So, balancing the amount of performance with the expectations of a much harder-core gaming audience with what Apple is capable of delivering in terms of gaming experience… that would be a neat trick.
For the iPad Pro, rumor has it that the larger version, not the 11-inch but the 12.9-inch version, at the very least, might get a mini-LED display.
Mini-LED is an improved version of LCD, thanks to technologies like local dimming zones giving you deeper shadows, brighter highlights, and much wider contrast ratios. Things that are closer to OLED without also having to mitigate all the negative aspects of OLED.
Also rumored is an A14X system-on-a-chip (SoC) that would be almost identical to the M1 in the current Macbook Air, Macbook Pro, and Mac mini. Just without the Mac-specific IP like virtualization and x86 translation acceleration.
The other advantage of the M1 chip is it has those two dedicated Thunderbolt controllers onboard. So whether Apple just makes an A14X specific chipset with one Thunderbolt port or uses the M1 and only enables one of those Thunderbolt ports, that's really an implementation detail, but either way, I would love, like all caps LOVE, having Thunderbolt on the iPad, not just for the displays that require Thunderbolt, but for the much much higher speed storage. Things that I use every day for doing videos like this, that I would love to be able to Thunderbolt right into the iPad Pro.
Also, 5G, thanks to a Qualcomm modem, which will be great for people who just love Qualcomm modems but also for people in China or North America and Europe who have actual good 5G deployments with higher speeds, lower congestion, and everyone else will just do exactly what Verizon support suggested, and that is to curse its battery drain and turn it right off.
Despite it being super popular with everybody on TechTwitter and TechTube, it's unclear when a new iPad mini might be coming with a larger screen, an iPad air style makeover where the chassis stays the same size but Apple deletes the home button, and Thanos snaps half the bezels off. Complete with, hopefully again, iPad Air-style touch ID in the power button.
Even though I don't expect it but what part of me would really, really like to see is whether or not Apple could make a tiny, tiny magic keyboard to go with it, maybe shrunk down with whatever that Pym-particle or Bottled City of Kandor technology was that they use to make that tiny, tiny HomePod mini house last October.
If you're not familiar with air tags already, they're small quarter-sized trackers that have been teased since spring of 2019. If they don't turn out to be just… AirPowered at some point, they will allow us to attach them to our wallets, our keys, put them in our bags, in our backpacks, and anything that we want to be able to use Apple's Find My Network to keep track of.
With everything else, anything else like the key chain attachment to be sold separately as a separate accessory which is probably where the real money will be made — like with Apple watchbands. (The absolute fastest way Apple has ever found to separate me personally from my money.)
As to M1X or M2 Macs, I need an M1X, 16-inch MacBook Pro in my life more than I need anything else at this point, but it doesn't sound like those are coming immediately, imminently. It sounds more like that might start at WWC 2021 sometime in June and then continue out into the more traditional Mac fall event in October or a repeat of November.
But a nerd can dream, right? Let me know yours in the comments!
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Rene Ritchie is one of the most respected Apple analysts in the business, reaching a combined audience of over 40 million readers a month. His YouTube channel, Vector, has over 90 thousand subscribers and 14 million views and his podcasts, including Debug, have been downloaded over 20 million times. He also regularly co-hosts MacBreak Weekly for the TWiT network and co-hosted CES Live! and Talk Mobile. Based in Montreal, Rene is a former director of product marketing, web developer, and graphic designer. He's authored several books and appeared on numerous television and radio segments to discuss Apple and the technology industry. When not working, he likes to cook, grapple, and spend time with his friends and family.
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