Apple Breakfast: Previewing Apple’s Spring Event

Apple generates a lot of news, and it can be hard to keep up. If your mind was on other things this week, our roundup of Apple-related headlines will bring you up to date.

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Apple announced the main features of iOS 14 at WWDC 2020 a whopping seven months ago, but despite enjoying the benefit of a postponement later in the year advertisers still haven’t got used to its privacy ideas.

This week Apple decided to stop messing about and announced the final deadline (even if it’s a tolerably vague one): the new tracking rules will take effect early this spring. Time to get your act together, online advertisers.

The rules – if the whole tedious debate passed you by last year – stipulate that apps which track users outside the developer’s own domains, on other websites and in other apps, will have to ask the user for permission. But there appears to be at least one loophole: Google has announced that its iOS apps won’t be seeking permission to track, presumably because the company has access to tracking methods that don’t rely on the use of an IDFA (Identifier For Advertisers) code.

Spring is in the air

Not literally of course; it’s still winter in England (and in my heart). But in the kingdom of consumer tech it won’t be long before we spot the first green shoots of the year.

This week our man Martyn Casserly turned his formidable brain to the burning question of the moment: What will Apple announce at its spring 2021 event? The list of imminent products is long, and after the success of its triple-event autumn, it seems unlikely that Apple will let the spring pass by without some kind of virtual extravaganza – most likely in March, but possibly in April.

The likeliest candidates, Martyn reckons, are the new iPad Pro, a redesigned iMac, and an updated Apple TV. But there’s plenty of time for a dark horse to come speeding up the rails, with our money on the AirTags finally making their debut.

Making money

Tim Cook took time out from swimming in gold coins this week to report on the state of Apple’s finances. And the finances are pretty good.

The numbers are enough to make us dizzy, but a few highlights from the latest quarterly report before we move on to other matters:

  • Revenue was $111bn, 21% up on the same quarter in 2020 and a new record for the company
  • The iPhone alone generated $66bn in the quarter, up from $56bn in the same quarter last year (IDC analysts reckon Apple sold 90 million iPhones in the quarter, and Cook has claimed elsewhere that there are now a billion active iPhones in the world)
  • Mac, iPad, Services, Wearables, Home and Accessories were all up significantly on the same quarter in 2020, and Apple broke records in every category

And just to rub it in, Apple has been rated as the most valuable brand in the world for the first time in five years.

News in brief

macOS 11.2 is here! We explain everything you need to know.

Samuel Nyberg, who has been sifting through the rumoured changes to the Mac this year, wonders why Apple would give it an SD card reader but not Face ID. On the other hand, Samuel also thinks Mac owners will get everything they want in 2021, so glass half full, I guess.

Microsoft has mocked the MacBook Touch Bar in a new TV advert, referring to it contemptuously as “this little bar”. How rude.

The EU law standardising smartphone chargers looks set to come in this year. This might result in Apple making iPhones with USB-C; on the other hand, it might result in Apple continuing to do exactly what it wants. Who can say?

Telegram, which has been enjoying a glut of new users thanks to controversy over WhatsApp’s terms of service, has introduced a feature that lets you import WhatsApp chats.

Got an M1 Mac? Confused and frightened by all the things that have changed? Don’t be! We’ve got a straightforward guide explaining all the new ways of doing things on Apple Silicon machines.

iPhones hold their price better than Androids, according to a new study.

Bugs & problems

The Batterygate dispute refuses to die. Having paid out hundreds of millions in the US over the throttling of processor performance to preserve battery life, Apple now faces a (comparatively paltry) fine of €60m in Italy – and it doesn’t look like that will be the end of it.

Talking of iPhone batteries, some iPhone 12 owners have been complaining that their handsets get through an unusually large amount of power.

Earlier in the month we discussed an issue where iPhones were taking it upon themselves to unilaterally lower the volume when they were worried about their users’ hearing. Good news (or bad news, depending on your point of view): the feature is downgraded to a warning in iOS 14.4.

The rumour mill

Apple has moved hardware engineering VP Dan Riccio to a mysterious new project which he describes as “creating something new and wonderful that I couldn’t be more excited about”. iCar? Apple Glass? The speculation this week has been almost unbearable.

Patent activity suggests Apple is working on a titanium MacBook – and potentially a titanium iPhone and iPad as well.

Face ID appears to be coming to the Mac, but not until 2022 – at the earliest.

New AirPods Pro will be here in the first half of 2021, supply-chain sources claim.

The latest iPhone 13 leaks are in! Jon Prosser reckons the late-2021 handset – which may be called the iPhone 12s, incidentally – will have a notch that’s shorter but not narrower, which probably isn’t what you want to hear. It will also have 1TB of storage, he claims (although that’s not a new theory).

As for the iPhone 13’s smaller and cheaper cousin, the Slovakian site Svetapple has posted attractive – if extremely ambitious – concept illustrations of the iPhone SE 3. They’re really nice. Take a look:

iPhone SE 3 concept render by Svetapple

Karen Haslam rounds up the latest leaks and rumours about this year’s MacBook Air update. Karen has also gazed into her crystal ball and predicted the new Apple products coming in February.

Apple is expected to drop the iPhone 6s and the original SE from the supported list when it announces iOS 15 in the summer.

Apple is planning a blood-sugar sensor for the Apple Watch Series 7, we hear.

And that’s it for this week. Stay Appley!

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