Here are the updates that didn’t make it in Apple’s livestream yesterday

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Promotional image of a casually dressed man speaking in front of a giant video display.
Enlarge / Apple presents the new iPad Pro at its April 20, 2021 event.

Apple crammed quite a few announcements into a short, one-hour presentation yesterday: new iPad Pros, new iMacs, a new Apple TV 4K, and the long-rumored launch of AirTags, to name a few. But for everything Apple executives and product managers said onstage, there was something else that didn’t get mentioned (or got passed over quickly, perhaps).

Many of these smaller details were hidden on product, specs, or support pages after Apple updated its website with the event’s new products. This isn’t a comprehensive list of all the things that changed on Apple’s website, but we’re picking some of the most interesting ones.

Let’s start with OS updates.

New OS updates hit next week

Apple seeded the release candidate (RC) versions of iOS 14.5, iPadOS 14.5, tvOS 14.5, macOS Big Sur 11.3, and watchOS 7.4 to app developers yesterday, signaling that these operating system updates are mere days away from launch. The time between the release candidate and the final public release has varied from update to update, but it has almost always been rapid—as quick as a single day, sometimes.
Apple also specifically stated that tvOS 14.5 will hit next week, and Apple usually pushes out software updates to multiple operating systems at roughly the same time.
We’ll drill down into the various features and bug fixes in these updates when they arrive, but it’s safe to say that what’s attracted the most attention is Apple’s new App Tracking Transparency change, which will require apps to ask users for permission to track them across multiple apps.

The Intel 21.5-inch iMac isn’t going anywhere (yet)

When Apple released the first M1 Macs late last year, legacy Intel versions of the Macs continued to coexist alongside their new Apple Silicon cousins, usually in the top-end configurations. That at least partially stayed true with the introduction of M1 24-inch iMacs yesterday: both the 27-inch and the 21.5-inch iMacs with Intel CPUs are still available to buy in Apple’s online store.

The 27-inch model is business as usual. It’s a similar case to those late 2020 M1 Macs; Apple sees the M1 as an entry-level chip, and the beefier, more feature-laden high-end versions of the Macs that got M1 variants last year are still in the store with Intel CPUs.

The 21.5-inch iMac, still for sale in Apple's store.
Enlarge / The 21.5-inch iMac, still for sale in Apple’s store.
Samuel Axon

The 27-inch iMac is still available as before, carrying the high-end flag for that product line until an inevitable Apple Silicon refresh hits the more expensive part of the lineup.

More surprising, though, is that there’s still a 21.5-inch Intel iMac for sale, though it’s buried deep in the purchase page for the 27-inch iMac, oddly enough. This surviving configuration has a 2.3 GHz, dual-core, seventh-gen Intel Core i5 CPU, either 8GB or 16GB of 2133 MHz DDR4 memory, and either 256GB of SSD storage or 1TB of Fusion Drive storage.

It costs $1,099 at entry-level or $1,299 with the 16GB RAM option. It has the same design as the old 21.5-inch iMac, with none of the radical changes we saw in the newly introduced 24-inch model.

The Mac mini gets better Ethernet

When the M1 Mac mini launched, some would-be buyers complained that it didn’t offer the 10 gigabit Ethernet option available in Intel Mac mini models. Apple has now addressed this by adding the same upgrade option to the M1 Mac mini. It costs $100 over the M1 Mac mini’s $699 base starting price from Apple’s online store.

The new Ethernet configuration option for the Mac mini.
Enlarge / The new Ethernet configuration option for the Mac mini.
Samuel Axon

A kaleidoscope of accessories

After Apple’s event, it came to light that the new Magic Keyboard peripheral that comes in multiple color options with Touch ID works with Macs other than the 24-inch iMac it’s sold with. But don’t get too excited if you’re an existing Mac user who likes Touch ID: the keyboard is, at least at the moment, only sold with the new iMac. That might change in the future—we’ll have to wait and see.

Apple didn’t go into detail about this during the presentation, but there are a variety of new colors for the Magic Mouse, Magic Trackpad, and Magic Keyboard. They all match the new iMac colors, and they’re all only available as bundles with new iMacs at present. Even the 24-inch iMac’s braided power cord is color-coded.

The new white variant of the iPad Pro's Magic Keyboard.
Enlarge / The new white variant of the iPad Pro’s Magic Keyboard.
Samuel Axon

iMacs and Magic Keyboards aren’t the only things available with new colors and customization options. Apple added two new iPad Smart Folio and Smart Cover colors: “Mallard Green” and “Electric Orange.” The Magic Keyboard for iPad Pro is available in white now, too.

The store has also been updated with new Apple Watch bands. They include the new Hermes Jumping Single Tour style in various colors, and there are new colors for existing band styles, too, including the Solo Loop, Braided Solo Loop, Leather Loop, and Sport band. You can visit the Apple Watch website to see the full list of colors available.

Finally, there are new colors for iPhone 12’s Silicone Cases, as well as for its leather cases and leather wallet.

Apple TV clarifications: No 120 Hz yet, and a new remote for all

The big news on the Apple TV front, albeit not the most surprising, is that the 2017 Apple TV 4K will be discontinued and replaced by the new Apple TV 4K. That means they won’t be sold side-by-side. The Apple TV HD doesn’t look like it’s going anywhere just yet, though.
And we learned a bit more about what to expect from the new Apple TV 4K model, beyond the obvious redesigned remote and its support for high refresh rates.
Let’s start with that high-refresh-rate support, though, because Apple’s online store page is either poorly written or users are going to have some expectations disappointed here. While the tech specs page does confirm the new Apple TV 4K has an HDMI 2.1 port, which makes 120 Hz playback possible, the rest of the specs page only talks about 60 Hz HDR video.

The hardware exists for 120 Hz, and some tvOS 14.5 beta code strongly suggests that support is coming, so don’t write it off yet. But at a minimum, things are more confusing on this topic than they ought to be right now. We’re hoping this is just an error, because the Apple TV 4K is far too expensive not to support the latest and greatest standards.

Other specs Apple has released on the new Apple TV 4K include WiFi 6 and support for Thread networking technology.

Some features of the new Apple TV 4K will be available on older Apple TV units too, we’ve learned.

The new Apple TV remote.
Enlarge / The new Apple TV remote.
Samuel Axon

For one, you can buy the new remote separately, and it will work with your existing Apple TV model (HD or 4K). Further, Apple is selling a bundle that includes the Apple TV HD with the new remote. All this seems to suggest that, more than anything, this Apple TV announcement is about replacing the controversial old remote.

The new remote isn’t the only new Apple TV feature that will hit prior models: the iPhone sensor-based color balance feature that Apple talked about during the event will also be available on existing Apple TV models, specifically the 2017 Apple TV 4K and 2015 Apple TV HD. The feature will arrive with tvOS 14.5 next week.

There’s a new approach to RAM in the iPad Pro

Historically, Apple has been nothing short of cagey about how much RAM its mobile devices have. The company has usually preferred to keep its marketing message focused on something other than hardware specs, and Apple enthusiasts have long maintained that X gigabytes of RAM on an iPhone are not really comparable to the same amount on, say, an Android device, given various differences.
But Apple took a different course with the M1 iPad Pro, listing both 8GB and 16GB configurations. Oddly, these are not explicitly selected at purchase. Rather, they’re tied to storage configurations, which have been the main configuration points for iPads in the past.
The 256GB and 512GB models of both the 11-inch and 12.9-inch iPad Pro have 8GB of RAM, while the 1TB and 2TB configurations have twice that much: 16GB. Apple doesn’t present this information at point of sale, but it is listed on the iPad Pro’s spec sheet just a click away. Apple has done this before, but it didn’t previously expose this in its specs pages.

AppleCare offered with new products—and for longer

If you live close to an Apple Store, AppleCare can be one of the unsung heroes of Apple’s product and service lineups, and it’s now being offered for new products.

Specifically, the Apple TV 4K pricing page now has an option to add three years of AppleCare+ coverage for $29. The offering is explained this way by Apple:

AppleCare+ extends your coverage to three years from your AppleCare+ purchase date and adds up to two incidents of accidental damage protection every 12 months, each subject to a service fee of $15, plus applicable tax. In addition, you’ll get 24/7 priority access to Apple experts via chat or phone.

Further, Apple has added new ways to cover Macs for longer with AppleCare+. A new support document (found by AppleInsider) states that customers in Australia, Canada, Germany, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States who paid upfront for multiple years of AppleCare+ service can later purchase similar new coverage if they do so “within 30 days of the end date of your original package.”

AppleCare appears as an option for Apple TV 4K purchases.
Enlarge / AppleCare appears as an option for Apple TV 4K purchases.
Samuel Axon

As of not long ago, Apple introduced recurring, unlimited monthly payments for AppleCare+, but this is the first time users have been able to extend coverage if they opted instead for the bulk payment option.

A couple other things we didn’t cover closely yesterday

Most of what we’ve been discussing here is about updates Apple didn’t include or go into much detail on in its livestream, but there were a couple of things Apple did talk about during the event that we only mentioned in our liveblog. So here they are in case you missed them.

Apple Card Family

Apple Card Family was actually the very first thing Apple announced during yesterday’s event. It’s essentially multiuser support for the Apple Card, and it builds on other Family Sharing features Apple has included with its services in the past.

With Apple Card Family, Apple Card holders can share the card fully with one other person aged 18 or older, like a spouse or partner, and the two people will build credit equally, in contrast to many other credit cards that only help one person build credit. Additionally, you can set it up so the card can be used by up to five people aged 13 or older.

These people won’t get the same credit benefits, but it means that, within a family, teenagers can use their parents’ card. There are also ways to place restrictions like spending limits for the people with whom the card is shared.

Podcasts Subscriptions

Apple already had a Music subscription service, a TV subscription service, and a gaming one, too. In May, the company will launch Apple Podcasts Subscriptions in 170 countries. Subscribers will gain access to ad-free versions of their favorite podcasts, as well as early releases and various other exclusive offerings.

Show creators will be able to offer their podcasts either as individual subscriptions or in bundles with other podcasts of their own or made by other creators, with a minimum subscription fee of 49 cents per month. Apple will take 30 percent of the subscription revenue for the first year and 15 percent after that.

For access to this marketplace, content creators will pay $19.99 per year, in a similar way to how Apple platform app developers pay $99 per year to be part of the Apple developer program.

Apple is not the first to try its hand at a premium podcasts subscriptions service, but all the prior efforts have turned out to be niche offerings at best. iOS is the most popular platform for podcast listening, and podcasts essentially originated on the platform, so Apple clearly has a leg up here. Time will tell how it pans out for creators, listeners, and Apple itself.


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