Top Stories: Hands-On With AirPods Max, Apple Fitness+ Debuts, iPhone 13 and Apple TV Rumors

Things remained extremely busy this week in the Apple world, even with the holidays quickly approaching. Apple pushed several new releases out the door on the hardware and software fronts this week, including AirPods Max, Fitness+, and other new features and improvements as part of iOS 14.3 and associated operating system updates.

Top Stories 40 Feature

We also got some rumors about the iPhone 13 and Apple TV, while Facebook and Apple remain engaged in an escalating dispute over Apple's upcoming move to require permission before companies can track users' online activity for personalized advertising purposes. Read on for details on all of these stories!

Hands-On With the AirPods Max

Apple's new AirPods Max over-ear headphones launched this week, and we've picked up a pair to see if their $549 price tag is worth it. We've also shared impressions from reviewers and customers.

airpods max flat
AirPods Max feature a premium design, with a breathable mesh headband that connects to memory foam ear cups with stainless steel telescoping arms, and a large Digital Crown provides precise, tactile volume control. However, there is no power button, which will disappoint some users.

Sound quality and active noise cancellation are both impressive with the AirPods Max and competitive with over-ear headphones from competing brands like Sony and Bose. And with an Apple-designed H1 chip in each ear cup, the AirPods Max feature instant pairing and automatic switching for Apple devices, longer Bluetooth range, and more.

While the AirPods Max are quite heavy, the headphones have been fairly comfortable in our experience, at least over shorter periods of time. Some users have found the headphones to be heavier on their ears, rather than their head, as Apple says that it designed the headband to distribute weight and reduce on-head pressure.

Overall, the AirPods Max are certainly a quality pair of over-ear headphones, but the average person should definitely consider looking into highly-rated alternatives like Sony's WH-1000XM4 or Bose's Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 for hundreds of dollars less.

Apple Fitness+ Launches With Free Trial Available

Apple's new workout service Fitness+ is now available, providing Apple Watch users with studio-style, guided exercise videos in a range of categories, such as high-intensity interval training, yoga, dance, running, walking, cycling, strength, and more. Apple says new content will be added to the service each week.

Apple fitness plus feature
Fitness+ requires an Apple Watch Series 3 or later, although workout videos can be watched on an iPhone or iPad without having an Apple Watch in close proximity once the service is set up. The videos can also be viewed on an Apple TV, but an Apple Watch is always required.

The headline feature of Fitness+ is that it integrates personal metrics such as heart rate from the Apple Watch to motivate users, animating them on the screen during key moments in the workout. All workout videos also offer modifications for beginners or those who prefer a slower pace.

Priced at $9.99 per month or $79.99 per year, Fitness+ automatically appears as a new tab in the Fitness app on iPhones running iOS 14.3 or later, while iPad users can get the Fitness app from the App Store for iPadOS 14.3 or later. On the Apple TV, the Fitness app automatically appears once users upgrade to tvOS 14.3. At launch, the service is available in the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, and the United Kingdom.

Fitness+ offers a free one-month trial to existing Apple Watch users, and an extended three-month trial is available to customers who purchased a new Apple Watch Series 3 or later after September 15, 2020.

iOS 14.3 Released — Here's Everything New!

Apple this week released iOS 14.3 and iPadOS 14.3 after a lengthy beta testing period, and there are several new features in the software updates.

iOS 14
In addition to Apple Fitness+ and AirPods Max support, other new features include support for Apple's new ProRAW image format, a dedicated TV+ tab in the TV app, a new pregnancy section in the Health app, privacy labels in the App Store, and more. And for iPad users, iPadOS 14.3 restores the ability to delete emails using the delete key on the Magic Keyboard.

Other software updates released this week include watchOS 7.2 with a new Cardio Fitness feature that measures VO₂ max, macOS 11.1, tvOS 14.3, and a 14.3 software update for the HomePod and HomePod mini.

iPhone 13 Pro Models Expected to Adopt LTPO Technology for 120Hz Display

Two out of four iPhone 13 models set to launch next year (presumably the Pro and Pro Max) will use OLED displays with low-power LTPO technology, paving the way for a long-rumored 120Hz refresh rate, according to a Korean supply chain report this week.

iphone 12 120hz thumbnail feature
LTPO technology would result in a more power-efficient backplane, which is responsible for turning individual pixels on and off on the display. In turn, this could allow for a 120Hz refresh rate for more fluid scrolling and smoother motion without causing too much of a hit on battery life. Similar to recent Apple Watch models, LTPO could also enable iPhone 13 models to have an always-on display.

While some rumors had suggested that iPhone 12 Pro models would support a 120Hz refresh rate, display industry analyst Ross Young accurately claimed otherwise, noting that the feature will be added alongside LTPO in 2021. iPad Pro models have supported up to 120Hz since 2017.

New Apple TV Finally Expected Next Year

Apple finally plans to release a new Apple TV in 2021, according to the Nikkei Asian Review, over three years after last updating the streaming box.

Apple TV A12X Feature
The report did not reveal any potential features, but previous rumors have indicated that the next-generation Apple TV could be equipped with a variant of the A12 chip for faster performance, and possibly a gaming controller that would be beneficial for Apple Arcade. There may also be a new 128GB storage option, compared to a max of 64GB currently.

The current Apple TV 4K was released in September 2017 and looks virtually identical to the previous-generation Apple TV HD.

Apple Responds to Facebook's Anti-Tracking Criticism, Says Users Deserve Control and Transparency

Apple has responded to Facebook's criticism over an upcoming iOS 14 privacy measure — specifically a change that will require users to grant permission for their activity to be tracked for personalized advertising purposes starting early next year.

Apple vs Facebook feature
Apple emphasized that it welcomes in-app advertising and is not prohibiting tracking, but simply requiring apps to obtain explicit user consent in order to track users for personalized advertising purposes, providing users with more control and transparency.

"We believe that this is a simple matter of standing up for our users," said Apple, in a statement issued to MacRumors. "Users should know when their data is being collected and shared across other apps and websites — and they should have the choice to allow that or not. App Tracking Transparency in iOS 14 does not require Facebook to change its approach to tracking users and creating targeted advertising, it simply requires they give users a choice."

Facebook claimed that Apple's tracking change will have a "harmful impact on many small businesses that are struggling to stay afloat," adding that the new policy is "about profit, not privacy." Facebook said many apps and websites will have to start charging subscription fees or add more in-app purchase options to make ends meet, making the internet "much more expensive."

MacRumors Newsletter

Each week, we publish an email newsletter like this highlighting the top Apple stories, making it a great way to get a bite-sized recap of the week hitting all of the major topics we've covered and tying together related stories for a big-picture view.

So if you want to have top stories like the above recap delivered to your email inbox each week, subscribe to our newsletter!

Top Rated Comments

newyorksole Avatar
4 weeks ago


I never get the concept of Apple TV. I am totally content with FireTV stick for streaming.

It comes down to ecosystem. Apple is tried and true with the way their products and services work together. Not perfect by ANY means, but if someone has Apple Music, ATV+, HomeKit etc etc and love Apple’s interface then the ATV makes more sense over the FireTV, no matter what it does.

I’m also not sure how you don’t get the concept of Apple TV Lol. How?
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)
yegon Avatar
4 weeks ago
Rewind a couple of weeks and I was completely content with the current ATV 4K.

Now, AirPods Max strapped to my head, I am the living embodiment of Fry from Futurama, waving money at Apple, softly chanting from multiple directions

s-p-a-t-i-a-l-a-u-d-i-o

s-p-a-t-i-a-l-a-u-d-i-o

(repeat)
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)
adampk17 Avatar
4 weeks ago

I never get the concept of Apple TV. I am totally content with FireTV stick for streaming.

I realize this is opinion but the fire TVs interface is kind of garbage compared to the Apple TV.
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)
adampk17 Avatar
4 weeks ago

Here, let me clear it up for you…

Apple TV 4K = $170. Amazon Fire stick 4K on sale this holiday for $30. Both do 4K HDR / Dolby Vision. One interfaces with a personal assistant the actually works well (and it ain't Siri).

The "our interface" is better argument, while true, didn't work in the days of Mac vs. Windows 95. And, it's certainly not working in the days of Roku / Fire TV. Most people, especially in these days of high unemployment, will opt for a more problematic interface to save over $100 as long as they can watch what they need to.

Well, for me here is how it goes..

I have two AppleTVs in the house, a 4 that is about 5 years old and a 4K that is what, about 3 years old. We also had a Roku 3 which worked good, I liked it, good interface, until it gave up the ghost. I wanted to wait for the new Apple TV “5”, or whatever it’ll be called, to replace it. But since I’ll have to wait another 4-6 months to get that I bought a FireTV 4K a stick at $30 to tide me over. You’re right, it *mostly* works but the UI is nasty.

As soon as the new AppleTV comes out the firetv will go in the bin.
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

cook cbs this morning

CBS This Morning: Apple to Make 'Big Announcement' Tomorrow Morning

Tuesday January 12, 2021 8:46 am PST by
CBS This Morning today shared a short clip of an upcoming interview with Apple CEO Tim Cook in which addressing last week's events at the U.S. Capitol, with Cook saying "it's key that people be held accountable for it." Following the clip, Gayle King of CBS noted that the interview with Cook was not specifically arranged to address the current controversy over Parler and other repercussions, ...
ipad pro 2021 mysmartprice cad

Allegedly Leaked 2021 iPad Pro CAD Images Suggest Few Design Changes

Tuesday January 12, 2021 3:38 am PST by
Tech blogs 91mobile and MySmartPrice on Tuesday posted a series of allegedly leaked factory CAD images of Apple's upcoming fifth-generation 11-inch iPad Pro. Rumors suggest Apple plans to announce two new iPad Pro models in both 11-inch and 12.9-inch versions, and today's images offer perhaps the clearest indication yet that Apple's next-generation iPad Pros will have minimal, if any,...
prototype iphone 12 pro

Prototype iPhone 12 Pro Shown Off in Photos

Wednesday January 13, 2021 3:39 pm PST by
Developer Giulio Zompetti, who often shows off prototype versions of Apple devices, today highlighted a prototype version of the iPhone 12 Pro. The iPhone 12 Pro is running an operating system called SwitchBoard, a nonUI version of the iOS 14 update that Apple uses internally. We've seen SwitchBoard on prototype devices before, as Apple uses it to test new features. Zompetti's prototype...
find my app safari post

Safari Allows Users to Enable Hidden 'Items' Tab in 'Find My' App Ahead of AirTags Launch

Wednesday January 13, 2021 5:45 am PST by
As seen in screenshots obtained by MacRumors in 2019, Apple's long-rumored AirTags items trackers are expected to be managed through the Find My app on iPhone, iPad, and Mac. Now, any user can get an early look at this tab. MacRumors reader David Chu today alerted us that the hidden "Items" tab in the Find My app can be enabled on an iPhone or iPad by typing in the link findmy://items in...
iphone x camera close

iOS 14.4 Will Introduce Warning on iPhones With Non-Genuine Cameras

Thursday January 14, 2021 8:07 am PST by
In the second beta of iOS 14.4 seeded to developers and public testers this week, MacRumors contributor Steve Moser has discovered code indicating that Apple will be introducing a new warning on iPhones that have had their camera repaired or replaced with aftermarket components rather than genuine Apple components. "Unable to verify this iPhone has a genuine Apple camera," the message will...
mac anti reflective coating issue

Apple's Anti-Reflective Coating Repair Program Still in Effect for Some MacBooks With New Mail-In Policy

Tuesday January 12, 2021 10:07 am PST by
In an internal memo obtained by MacRumors, Apple recently informed its network of Apple Authorized Service Providers that mail-in repair is now required for Mac notebooks with anti-reflective coating issues in the United States. The new policy went into effect January 4, 2021 and means that customers who take an eligible 12-inch MacBook or MacBook Pro exhibiting this issue to an Apple...
pioneer carplay wc5700nex

The Best Apple-Related Accessories at CES 2021

Wednesday January 13, 2021 1:16 pm PST by
CES 2021 is taking place digitally this year, and it hasn't been as exciting as in past years because many vendors have opted out. That said, some companies are still showing off some interesting Apple-related accessories that are coming out this year and that will be of interest to Mac, iPad, and iPhone users. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. Pioneer Wireless...
Hue module dimmer switch

Philips Hue Announces New Wall Switch Module, Dimmer Switch, and Outdoor Light Bar

Thursday January 14, 2021 3:11 am PST by
Philips Hue has announced a new wireless dimmer switch module that lets Hue bridge owners directly control the smart lighting from their standard wall switches. The new Philips Hue wall switch module is the ideal addition to any Philips Hue set up. Installed behind existing light switches, it allows users to turn their existing switch into a smart switch and ensures their smart lighting is...
whatsapp wallpapers 1

WhatsApp Affirms User Privacy Following Backlash Over Data Sharing With Facebook

Tuesday January 12, 2021 6:39 am PST by
Following backlash after changing its terms and privacy policy to consolidate a significant amount of data sharing with Facebook, WhatsApp is now assuring users about the privacy measures built into its app. Last week, WhatsApp began informing users of updates to the app's terms of service and privacy policy. The updated agreements, which users must consent to in order to continue using...
apple racial equity justice initiative propel center render 01132021

Apple Launches New Nationwide Racial Equity and Justice Initiative Projects

Wednesday January 13, 2021 4:08 am PST by
Apple today announced a set of new projects as part of its $100 million Racial Equity and Justice Initiative (REJI) to help dismantle systemic barriers to opportunity and combat injustices faced by communities of color. Rendering of the Propel Center The projects include the Propel Center, a global innovation and learning hub for Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), an Apple ...