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Apple “Spring Loaded” event may reveal new iMac colors, new AirPods and long-awaited software update

Many of us may be suffering from virtual event fatigue after a year of video calls. But not Apple, which plans new product announcements at what seems likely to be an iPhone-less online event on Tuesday.

It’s the first such event for the company in 2021.

Analysts expect new iPads and likely new color versions of the iMac. The company could also show off something called AirTags, which look to be coin-sized tracking devices you can stick on stuff you don’t want to lose — your tortoise, your phone, your coffee cup or perhaps small children.

And while you might be tired of watching your coworkers’ sleepy heads in Brady Bunch-like rectangles on your monitor, Apple’s product launches, even the virtual ones, are a different breed, said Wedbush analyst Daniel Ives.

“In this virtual environment Apple’s product launches have been very successful in courting developers and consumers around its new product lineup,” Ives said. “Apple is a unique brand and product launches, even virtually, are the linchpin.”


Apple iPhone software adds privacy features

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Besides the iPads — including refreshes for the iPad Pro, the iPad mini and the low-cost iPad — Ives also predicts a new Apple Pencil, a stylus for freehand art and writing with certain iPad models — and some hints around the new AirPods 3 wireless earbuds, which he expects to be launched in a separate virtual event in early summer.

Then, in the fall, Apple will likely hold its much-anticipated iPhone event, unveiling the iPhone 13. It has not yet said whether it’ll be in person or not, but for the millions of Apple fans, developers and others who tune in on their events online anyway, it likely won’t matter.

iOS 14.5 privacy update

Apple is also set to release its long-anticipated iOS update featuring a major privacy upgrade called App Tracking Transparency, which will require apps running on Apple’s iOS 14.5 platform to request permission from iPhone users before gathering their user or device data.

The bold new feature will give millions of iPhone users the choice of whether to allow individual apps to track their activity on their phone and online, or to stop tracking altogether. 

A spokesperson for Apple said the new privacy features were developed to “provide transparency and give users a choice if their data is tracked.” 

The release of the anti-tracking feature, originally intended for iOS14, has been delayed repeatedly following fierce pushback from Facebook, Google and other app makers who rely on data tracking for ad sales revenue.

Apple is also releasing software updates for its other devices, including the iPad, Apple Watch, Mac computers and Apple TV. The company will announce product updates at its event on Tuesday, and the software is expected to be available this week.

“The viewership for Apple’s product launches are in the tens of millions, which speaks to the excitement these virtual events have brought, although it can’t match the Broadway feel of a live Cupertino unveil,” Ives said.

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