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April 21, 2021
☕ Good morning! Happy birthday to our friend Gary Sims from Gary Explains. (Explain how you got so old, Gary!)
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Apple April 2021 event iMac

Apple’s one-hour event last night refreshed its iPad Pro and iMac line-ups, introduced AirTags, gave the Apple TV 4K a specs bump (and a remote that isn’t terrible), along with a few more bits and pieces.

The big news follows.

M1 chipset

  • Apple’s put its M1 chipset into everything. The new 11-inch and 12.9-inch iPad Pro and the new 24-inch iMac join the MacBook, MacBook Pro, and Mac Mini with the M1 chipset.
  • No sign of a beefier M1 Pro or Plus or whatever the next upgraded chipset might be called. But also no 27-inch iMac, implying it might be in line for a bigger specs bump.

iPad Pro:

  • The 12.9-inch iPad Pro got the full round of updates: along with the M1 chip comes a Thunderbolt port, 5G. a wide-angle selfie camera that tracks and follows subjects in view, and now has up to 16GB of RAM and up to 2TB of storage though it is insanely expensive. 
  • Apple now calls the updated display its Liquid Retina XDR, which is the new Mini-LED tech, coming soon to more consumer electronics.
  • The 11-inch iPad Pro also got the specs bump but crucially misses out on the updated display, and seems to be left out in the cold a bit.

iMac:

  • The 24-inch iMac was given a full revamp, the first refresh for the iMac since 2012.
  • It has a new thin style, new colors, four Thunderbolt ports, Ethernet in the charging brick. It starts at $1,299, and has a Touch ID keyboard accessory.
  • Actually it’s so thin, at 11.5mm, that it seems like Apple couldn’t fit a headphone jack on the back, as they need around 14mm of depth. Therefore, it’s sort of oddly stuck to the side.
  • It finally has a 1080p webcam in a Mac, something Apple touted as “its best ever” but really, really, really, should never have stuck with poor 720p webcams in its Macs this long.
  • Also, the bottom bezel is still pretty big, and not even one USB-A port, nor microSD port, means dongle life continues. 

Apple TV 4K:

  • Finally given a specs bump, the new Apple TV 4K has an improved remote and A12 Bionic chip.
  • That’s a decent jump from 2017’s A10X, and should help with gaming at 4K.
  • One nice feature, Apple is shipping a calibration tool to improve the Apple TV’s color presentation on your TV, using iPhone 12 sensors, if you have an iPhone 12 handy.
  • The 32GB version goes for $179, $199 for 64GB. 
  • You can also buy the new remote for $59 on its own, and it is backwards compatible, too.
apple airtag accessories 1
Apple

AirTags:

  • Apple’s Tile rival emerged after a long wait. They support UWB in the iPhone 11 and newer for precise location tracking
  • Each AirTag (with unspecified “long life” battery) can be attached to your important things, and be tracked or found via Apple’s Find My network, with privacy features too. They go for $29 each, $99 for four.
  • Also: Here’s how Android users with NFC can help Apple friends find lost things, and Tile is mad: bashing the new AirTag as unfair competition (TechCrunch).

Other bits:

Roundup

💯 Redmi Note 10 review: The everyday workhorse that’s perfect as a no-nonsense budget smartphone (Android Authority).

👉 Here’s why your Android apps were randomly crashing last month, and how it shouldn’t happen again (Android Authority).

💻 Microsoft is reportedly launching a Windows Cloud PC service, which sounds like it’ll be a secure, up-to-date Windows experience for a flat per-person fee. So, more likely useful in enterprise environments? (Android Authority).

🎧 Sony unveils limited edition WH-1000XM4 headphones in white, and apparently more stain-resistant (Android Authority).

Samsung opens beta on Galaxy Upcycling to breathe new life into old phones (TechCrunch).

Venmo is the latest payment app to support cryptocurrency: buy, hold, and sell Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Ethereum, and Litecoin (Android Authority)

😬 Brace yourselves, Facebook has a new mega-leak on its hands (Ars Technica).

📺 Netflix’s subscriber numbers fall off from 2020’s boom because of a massive pull forward from Covid-19, and so loads of people already have a subscription? Because we’re all burnt out from watching stuff? Netflix says things will get more normal when it has new shows again (Engadget).

🔥 As weed becomes more “acceptable,” weed gadgets are growing up (Gizmodo).

🍦 “They hacked McDonald’s Ice Cream Machines—and started a cold war.” Great (tech) tale of David vs Goliath! (Wired).

💈 Amazon is opening a hair salon with an AR color setup to allow people to try before they dye (Engadget).

🚀 NASA and SpaceX are sending four astronauts to the ISS early Thursday at 6:11am EDT from Florida: SpaceX Crew-2 looks set to go, with only a 20% chance of inclement weather conditions at the moment (nasa.gov).

🤔 “What was supposed to be “The Next Big Thing”, but totally flopped?” Amazon shopping buttons, 3D TV, and er, The Panama Papers? (r/askreddit).

👨‍🍳 “Cooking: I’ve often heard that salt “brings out the flavor” of a dish. What does this mean in chemical terms? (r/askscience).

Wednesday Weirdness

Just like CES each year and tech conferences around the world, auto shows tend to bring out amazing new ideas, wild new developments, and, well, concepts with varying degrees of usefulness, shall we say.

  • With in-person auto shows back in China, the Shanghai Auto Show has managed to return things back to its weird and wonderful equilibrium.
  • Now, to be fair, a bunch of cars at auto shows tend to be concepts that are never put into production. 
  • They explore ideas, get attention, show future concepts …and can’t move under their own power.

With that in mind, Autocar found a real mix of 11 cars that fit the bill.

Take the Ora Punk Cat, which is basically a copy of the VW Beetle but now as an EV, out of a spin-off brand from Great Wall Motors:

ora punk cat

Another is the Roewe Jing (“Jing” meaning whale), which is exactly the intention:

roewe jing
  • “Jing directly translates from Chinese as whale, and the company says the car follows a philosophy called Emotional Rhythm.”

…always wanted to drive a whale! 

Cheers,

Tristan Rayner, Senior Editor

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