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
26 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
26 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
26 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
25 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

apple watch 6s 202009

Bloomberg: Apple Watch Series 7 to Feature Thinner Screen Bezels, Faster Processor, and Updated Ultra Wideband Tech

Monday June 14, 2021 3:41 am PDT by
This year's Apple Watch Series 7 is likely to have thinner display bezels and use a new lamination technique that brings the display closer to the front cover, according to Bloomberg's Mark Gurman. From the report: The Cupertino, California-based tech giant is planning to refresh the line this year -- with a model likely dubbed the Apple Watch Series 7 -- by adding a faster processor,...
m1 imac back

Some M1 iMac Models Shipping With Crooked Mountings

Monday June 14, 2021 12:50 pm PDT by
Some M1 iMacs appear to have a manufacturing defect that causes the display to be mounted on the stand in a way that's not perfectly aligned, leading to a crooked display. YouTuber iPhonedo over the weekend published a review of the M1 iMac, and he found that his machine appeared to be tilted on one side, a mounting disparity that was visibly noticeable and proved with a ruler. Another...
studio buds family

Beats Studio Buds Debuting Today With Active Noise Cancellation, Stemless Design, and More for $150

Monday June 14, 2021 8:00 am PDT by
We've seen a lot of teasers about the Beats Studio Buds over the past month since they first showed up in Apple's beta software updates, and today they're finally official. The Beats Studio Buds are available to order today in red, white, and black ahead of a June 24 ship date, and they're priced at $149.99. The Studio Buds are the first Beats-branded earbuds to truly compete with AirPods...
16 inch macbook pro m2 render

When Can We Expect the Redesigned MacBook Pros Now?

Wednesday June 16, 2021 7:11 am PDT by
With no sign of redesigned MacBook Pro models at this year's WWDC, when can customers expect the much-anticipated new models to launch? A number of reports, including investor notes from Morgan Stanley and Wedbush analysts, claimed that new MacBook Pro models would be coming during this year's WWDC. This did not happen, much to the disappointment of MacBook Pro fans, who have been...
apple new iphone case colors

Apple Releases New Sunflower, Cloud Blue and Electric Orange iPhone 12 Cases

Monday June 14, 2021 11:12 am PDT by
Apple today released silicone iPhone cases for the iPhone 12, 12 Pro, 12 Pro Max, and 12 mini in a series of new colors that include sunflower, cloud blue, and electric orange. Sunflower is a bright yellow shade, cloud blue is a soft, light blue, and electric orange is a bright orange that's darker than the kumquat color and more orange than pink citrus. The new cases are priced starting...
ipad iphone duo ios 12

Apple Releases iOS and iPadOS 12.5.4 Security Fix for Older iPhones and iPads

Monday June 14, 2021 10:15 am PDT by
Apple today released new iOS and iPadOS 12.5.4 updates, with the new software aimed at older devices that are unable to run the iOS 14 update that's available on modern devices. The iOS and iPadOS 12.5.4 updates can be downloaded for free and the software is available on all eligible devices over-the-air in the Settings app. To access the new software, go to Settings > General > Software...
files app ipados 15

iPadOS 15: Files App Gains NTFS Support, Progress Indicator, and More

Tuesday June 15, 2021 3:41 am PDT by
Apple in iPadOS 15 has added the ability to access NTFS-formatted media from within the Files app. The additional support for the Windows-related format, first discovered by YouTuber Steven Fjordstrøm, is read-only, so like on macOS you can't modify files stored on NTFS devices, but you can at least copy any data on them for working on elsewhere on your iPad. The Files app has also gotten a...
maxresdefault

Apple CEO Tim Cook: Sideloading Apps Would 'Destroy the Security' of the iPhone

Wednesday June 16, 2021 10:49 am PDT by
Apple CEO Tim Cook this morning participated in a virtual interview at the VivaTech conference, which is described as Europe's biggest startup and tech event. Cook was interviewed by Guillaume Lacroix, CEO and founder of Brut, a media company that creates short-form video content. Much of the discussion centered on privacy, as it often does in interviews that Cook participates in. He...
maxresdefault

Demo: Check Out AirPlay 2 on a Mac in macOS Monterey

Tuesday June 15, 2021 11:57 am PDT by
With macOS Monterey, Apple has introduced expanded AirPlay 2 support, so you can AirPlay content from an iPhone, iPad, or even another Mac to your main Mac. We thought we'd do a quick demo of this handy new feature in our latest YouTube video. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. With AirPlay to Mac, you can extend or mirror an Apple device's display to a Mac, and since ...
nomad airtag wallet card 2

Nomad's Latest Accessory Makes It Easier to Put an AirTag in Your Wallet

Monday June 14, 2021 12:00 pm PDT by
Nomad, known for its range of accessories designed for Apple devices, today announced the Card for AirTag, which is designed to make it easier for an AirTag to fit inside a wallet for tracking purposes. With Card for AirTag, an AirTag fits inside the middle of a card-shaped holder that's then meant to fit inside of a wallet. According to Nomad, the design offers a smooth, uniform shape that...