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Apple's event on April 20: What to expect

Daniel Howley
·Technology Editor
·6 min read
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Apple (AAPL) is set to host its annual spring event to unveil new products on, of all days, Tuesday, April 20, and somewhere Tesla CEO Elon Musk is hyperventilating with glee.

The big show, which Apple’s own Siri leaked ahead of the official announcement, kicks off at 10 a.m. PT, can be streamed via the company’s website, and is expected to include new iPads with improved screens and more horsepower.

"I think the primary expectation is for more tablets, meaning iPads, and laptops or desktops, iMacs, things of that nature," D.A. Davidson analyst Tom Forte told Yahoo Finance Live on Monday, the day before the announcement. "And the beauty for Apple of the pandemic is that, from a hardware standpoint, you saw very strong sales in essentially their lineup independent of smartphones."

But that’s not all we're expecting. The event is also rumored to include a look at new AirPods, a new Apple TV streaming box, and perhaps some new Macs running on Apple’s formidable M1 processor. Here’s what we know so far about what to expect.

New, more powerful iPads

Let’s start with iPads, since those will likely be the guests of honor for this shindig. Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman reports that Apple will give us a look at its newest iPad Pros complete with upgraded processors that are on par with the ARM-based M1 processor found in the MacBook Pro and MacBook Air.

The Pros are also said to include USB C Thunderbolt ports. But before you lose your mind at the prospect of having to buy a new cable or charger, it’s worth noting that your old charger and cable should work just fine with the new Pros.

Apple's iPad Pros are expected to get some big upgrades during Apple's April 20 event. (Image: Apple)
Apple's iPad Pros are expected to get some big upgrades during Apple's April 20 event. (Image: Apple)

Thunderbolt is a type of USB C charger capable of letting you connect a separate monitor to your devices and transfer data at faster rates. You’ll need a Thunderbolt cable to get those benefits, but your older USB C cable will still let you transfer data at slower rates and charge your tablet.

The new iPad Pros are expected to come in the same 11-inch and 12.9-inch sizes as the current generation of Pros, but at least one version is said to get a new type of display that uses mini LEDs. That should improve the contrast and brightness of the iPad’s screen.

My personal favorite, the iPad mini, is also expected to get an upgrade, but there are questions as to whether it will show up at the April 20 event or later this year. Regardless, those improvements are expected to include a much-needed panel update that stretches the screen across the tablet’s entire front panel by eliminating the existing oversized bezels.

New AirPods

Apple’s iconic AirPods are one of its most successful products and made Apple the world leader in wearable technology. The new AirPods, which are so far being called the AirPods 3, are said to feature a new design with shorter posts for their microphones, and silicon tips.

Don’t expect the headphones to offer all of the high-end features found on the $249 AirPods Pro like active-noise cancellation — that would likely push the cost of these buds far higher than the $159 mid-range price the AirPods go for.

There’s no guarantee that the new AirPods will debut at the April 20 event, though. According to MacRumors, Apple may have delayed the earbuds until sometime this fall.

More M1-powered Macs

Apple’s M1 processors are fantastic, especially in the MacBook Air and MacBook Pro, and we’re hoping to hear more from Apple about where the chip will appear next. The best bet is on the company dropping the M1 into its iMac line of all-in-one desktops.

Apple's MacBook Pro could get some upgrades including a new design during Apple's event. (Image: Apple)
Apple's MacBook Pro could get some upgrades including a new design during Apple's event. (Image: Apple)

It’s not just the iMac, though. Apple could debut new MacBook Pros rocking the M1 complete with updated designs. According to MacRumors, the tech giant could replace its 13-inch MacBook Pro with a 14-inch model. The 16-inch version would stay the same.

That would better help Apple differentiate the MacBook Air and MacBook Pro lines in terms of look and feel. The systems also have different performance specs, but if you’re shopping based on size, the fact that the Air and Pro are so close in size and design makes choosing one over the other a bit confusing.

According to Forte, Apple's new iPads and Macs couldn't come at a better time, either.

"I’m now of the belief that this working remotely, learning remotely situation is multiyear, you know 2020 to 2023 at the minimum," Forte said. "And with that backdrop, tablets, laptops, I think they could continue to perform at a high level for several years."

iOS 14.5 is coming

Apple’s iOS 14.5 is coming to an iPhone near you. And what better time for the company to announce the update’s availability than during its April 20 event? IOS 14.5 features a host of improvements to the iPhone’s operating system including new emojis, new voices for Siri; including the first Black American voices, and Apple’s controversial App Tracking Transparency feature.

App Tracking Transparency forces app developers to provide users with a pop-up asking if they would like to have their activity tracked across apps and websites for use by advertisers. Apple says the move is about protecting users’ privacy. Facebook and other companies that rely on advertising for generating revenue have said that the move could hurt small businesses that rely on advertising on social platforms. Of course, it could also hurt Facebook, which sells ads for those businesses and makes the vast majority of its revenue from ad sales.

We'll be following the event on April 20 and will report back on the new products Apple ends up revealing.

This post was originally published April 16 and updated with analyst commentary on April 19.

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