After a year of incredible loss, Apple’s going all-in on making sure we can find our keys. And wallets. And maybe even the family dog.
At its first product unveiling of 2021 on Tuesday, Apple showed off an array of new, rainbow-colored, and more impressive/expensive gear including a Tile-tracking competitor called AirTag, new iPad Pros, refreshed iMacs, and more. Here’s what’s worth your money.
If you’ve been contemplating the purchase of a new iPad, I would like to introduce you to Temptation! The new iPad Pro is here to separate you from your money with its M1 chip — the same one that’s in the MacBook Air — and a 12-megapixel camera that tracks you as you move about during video calls. If slick, fast, cute, and spendy (starting at $799) is what you are looking for in a tablet, this is it. It pairs neatly with an Apple Pencil and Magic Keyboard so you could easily make the argument that this is a slick mobile work machine or that you need a better way to communicate with far-flung family and friends. It has 5G and fast Wi-Fi so it’s always connected. If that stimulus check is burning a hole, there are worse places to lose it.
The AirTag is a new category for Apple and it seems, to me, an odd time to jump into this space, since Tile’s been working it for what feels like decades. But the AirTags —a dongle that helps you find keys or anything you attach it to — are cute and have gorgeous accessories (like a $300 keychain and luggage tabs from Hermes.) Like Apple’s other products, the AirTag can be put into Lost Mode so if your keys (or the cat or whatever you attached the AirTag to) go missing, you’ll get a notification when it comes back within the network area. If someone with an NFC-capable phone (most high-end smartphones have this) finds your keys (or the cat), they can tap your AirTag to their phone, and your contact information appears on their screen, which is delightfully helpful and science fiction-like. Most surprising about the AirTag, though, is its price — this is Apple, after all — which is just $30, only a few dollars more than the Tile. You’ll need a device with iOS 14.5 for these to work but this might be the most tempting reason I’ve seen to get a new iPhone. (See below, filed under “Should I get a new iPhone?”)
Remember when desktop computers were ugly or, alternately, white? I’m so glad that’s over. This new iMac is not only powerful, but it’s also a slender beauty that comes in a range of pretty colors so you get to decide what your home looks like. Purple? Peach? Red? Silver? This is a device that will sit in a prominent place in your home — or office — and so it should look good there. The iMac has gorgeous cameras, sound, and visuals but they are artfully hidden inside that 11.5-millimeter-thin-screen-on-a-stand so you don’t have to look at them or find space for them or their wires on your desk. Even its few cables are simple and color coordinated–and they attach magnetically. If you are willing to drop this much coin–it starts at $1299–for a desktop computer, this will become a beautiful communication, work, school, and information center in your home, rather than the cable clutter mess that so many desktops are.
The new iPhone
We know why you are here. The eternal question everyone asks when Apple announces a new phone is, “Should I get a new iPhone?” And this is a new iPhone, with improved image precision and richer colors. Apple claims it is more durable than the previous iPhone and is even more able to withstand a dip in the pool. It can go to six meters for thirty minutes and survive, which —for a phone —is almost Bear Grylls territory. If you’re tired of carrying around a giant phone, you might be tempted by the unique combination of power and diminutive size in the iPhone 12 Mini. But the most thrilling announcement here seems to be the color purple. Both the larger iPhone 12 (from $799) and the iPhone 12 Mini (from $699) will be available in purple, in addition to last year’s colors.