Apple’s next online-only launch will be April 20, upgraded iPads on tap – CNET

Apple computers

Apple’s event invite definitely has those spring colors, and the squiggles of an Apple Pencil.

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This story is part of Apple Event, our full coverage of the latest news from Apple headquarters.

Apple has set the date for its next online-only event, sending out invites to the media for Tuesday, April 20 at 10 a.m. PT / 1 p.m. ET. Apple is expected to introduce new iPads with upgraded screens and possibly the company’s long-rumored AirTags trackers.

The new devices will be shown off during a stream on Apple’s website. The tech giant has been holding online-only events amid the coronavirus pandemic, which spurred waves of lockdowns around the world.

Apple’s invite, sent in email to reporters, showed an Apple logo made in squiggles, a seeming reference to the iPad’s popular Apple Pencil. The invite also included a phrase, “Spring Loaded.” These few details often send tech industry watchers abuzz with attempts to decode what the company’s hinting at.

It also arrived a few hours after Apple’s Siri voice assistant appeared to out the event before the official announcement. Close-watching Apple watchers noticed that if you asked Siri when the next Apple event was, it responded “The special event is on Tuesday, April 20, at Apple Park in Cupertino, CA. You can get all the details on Apple.com.” Later in the morning, Apple changed it to merely tell people details about Apple events are on its website.

The event marks another milestone for Apple as it aims to stay on track with its product launch schedule, which typically includes events in the spring, summer and fall. In 2020, as the coronavirus pandemic took hold, Apple made its Worldwide Developers Conference online-only, with slickly edited videos adding to the typical stage presentation format for its June event. 

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Apple

Apple also didn’t appear to let up on its device updates, either. Last year, it announced long-rumored changes to the technology powering its computers, moving away from the Intel processing brains it’s used for more than a decade, switching to chips Apple designed in-house. The first of the new chips, called the M1, went on sale inside the MacBook Air, MacBook Pro and Mac Mini later in the year. 

See also: Apple’s new iPad Pro in 2021: What to expect

The company also updated its iPhones with new square-edged designs and 5G wireless technology, promising super fast mobile internet connections — if you’re in an area that connects to it. CNET reviewer Patrick Holland called the iPhone 12 one of the highest-rated phones we’ve ever reviewed. “5G support, a new striking design, improved cameras and four different models all add up to make the iPhone 12 an absolute unit,” he wrote at the time.

The updated iPad will likely be a less dramatic shift, but it will still be important. Students are still stuck at home, needing tablets and computers to do their schoolwork. Some people also use iPads to watch movies and TV shows.

One change we know is coming will be iOS 14.5, a free software update that will introduce major privacy changes to the iPad and iPhone software. A standout feature is App Tracking Transparency, which Apple says will force companies and developers to be clear about how they’re collecting user data and whether it’s being used for advertising. Companies will also have to ask for permission from users to more closely track them.

Facebook’s pushed back on Apple’s moves, saying they’re unfair and could raise rates on small business advertising. Effectively, Facebook said, Apple’s privacy push would make the internet more expensive

Apple CEO Tim Cook disagreed, saying he wants to give people the chance to weigh in on how advertising works on their phones.

“We think that some number of people, I don’t know how many, don’t want to be tracked like that,” Cook said. “And they should be able to say they don’t.”

The iOS 14.5 software update will also feature new emoji, and an option to unlock your phone with your Apple Watch, making it much easier to access information when wearing a mask

Apple hasn’t said when the iOS 14.5 software update will arrive, but it’s expected in the coming weeks. 

New tech

In terms of technology built into the iPad, rumors swirling around the tech world suggest Apple’s biggest change will be to the screens, which are expected to use a technology called mini-LED, which screen makers say offers improved power efficiency and better brightness. Apple’s rumored to be transitioning its MacBook laptops and iMac desktop computers to the technology sometime later. Modern iPhones use OLED screens, which are considered higher quality but typically cost more money to make.

iOS 15 rumors: Release date, buzzy new features, device compatibility and more

The tech giant may also offer entirely new products, rumored to be called AirTags. The devices are little trackers that you can attach to backpacks, purses, toys or whatever else, so that you can locate them using the iPhone’s “Find My” app. Samsung beat Apple to market with its $40 SmartTag devices, announced in January. Other companies make similar devices too, including Tile and TrackR.

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