Top Stories: AirTags and Apple Car Rumors, Belkin's 3-in-1 MagSafe Charger, Mac App Store Turns 10
With the first week of 2021 now under our belts, news and rumors are starting to ramp up again. This week saw details about the long-rumored AirTags item trackers, the Apple Car, and upcoming upgrades for most of Apple's iPad lineup.
We also heard a bit about Apple's AR glasses and the iPhone 13, while we got our hands on Belkin's new 3-in-1 MagSafe charger. Finally, the Mac App Store turned ten years old this week, so read on for full details on all of these stories and more, and check out our video above for even more coverage!
Apple Rumored to Unveil AirTags, Augmented Reality Device, New AirPods, and More This Year
The calendar has now turned to 2021 and Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has outlined his expectations for some new Apple devices this year, including the long-awaited AirTags item trackers, new AirPods, the first iPads and Macs with Mini-LED displays, more Macs with Apple silicon chips, and an augmented reality device of some kind.
AirTags are expected to help users keep track of their personal belongings, such as their keys, wallets, and backpacks, and would notify users on their Apple devices when they are separated from a tagged item. In 2019, MacRumors obtained screenshots showing that AirTags will be managed through a new Items tab in the Find My app. Accessory makers are already beginning to prepare for the accessory's launch.
As for the augmented reality device, Apple is rumored to be working on both an AR/VR headset and AR-only glasses. In an internal meeting last year, Apple executive Mike Rockwell said the headset may be announced in 2021 and released in 2022, while the glasses are expected in 2023 at the earliest, according to Bloomberg's Mark Gurman.
Taiwanese publication DigiTimes this week reported that a so-called "Apple Glasses" prototype is about to enter the "second phase" of development as the product progresses towards engineering verification.
The third-generation AirPods are rumored to feature an in-ear design like the AirPods Pro, but without noise cancellation.
The first Macs with Mini-LED displays will include redesigned 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro models with Apple silicon, according to Kuo, while a new 12.9-inch iPad Pro with a Mini-LED display is also expected to be introduced later this year. Rumors have conflicted on whether the 11-inch iPad Pro will receive a Mini-LED display as well.
Apple Negotiating with Hyundai for Apple Car Production
A new report from Bloomberg this week says that Apple is indeed aiming to launch a full-fledged car rather than just developing autonomous systems for other car manufacturers, but Apple's car won't be ready to launch for at least five to seven years.
Shortly after the report, word surfaced that Apple has been in discussions with Hyundai about potentially partnering on battery technology and vehicle production. Hyundai initially confirmed the talks in an official statement, but later walked that back to omit any specific mention of Apple, saying only that it has been approached by "various companies regarding development of autonomous EVs."
iPhone 13 Pro Models Said to Use Samsung's LTPO Technology for 120Hz Display
Rumors continue to suggest that iPhone 13 Pro models will feature low-power LTPO display technology, allowing for a long-awaited 120Hz refresh rate.
A report this week from Korean website The Elec claimed that Samsung will be the exclusive supplier of this LTPO technology for iPhone 13 Pro models. LTPO coupled with a 120Hz refresh rate would result in more fluid scrolling and smoother motion without consuming too much battery life.
In other iPhone 13 rumors this week, we learned that the LiDAR Scanner may be expanded to the entire iPhone 13 lineup, rather than just the Pro models, and ultra-fast mmWave 5G may become available on iPhone 13 models sold outside of the United States as well.
While Apple no longer includes a charger in the box with new iPhones, the company is rumored to be working on GaN-based USB-C power adapters that would be smaller, lighter, and more power efficient than the silicon-based power adapters that it currently sells for release as early as this year.
Next Low-Cost iPad Said to Feature Thinner, Lighter Design
Japanese blog Mac Otakara this week offered some potential details about several upcoming iPad models, including the upcoming ninth-generation 10.2-inch iPad, claiming that the device will feature a thinner and lighter design, and retain both Touch ID and a Lightning connector.
The report also claimed that the next iPad Pro will not feature any significant design changes, but the device is expected to be equipped with a much faster A-series chip. In a follow-up report, the site said that both 11-inch and 12.9-inch models should be expected in March, with camera lenses no longer protruding beyond the larger camera bump. The 12.9-inch model may also be 0.5mm thicker as part of the transition to a Mini-LED display.
Finally, Mac Otakara claimed that the next-generation iPad mini will also launch in March and see its display size increase from 7.9 inches to 8.4 inches. Overall, the design will be similar to the third-generation iPad Air, retaining a Touch ID Home button and Lightning port, but with slimmer display bezels than on the current iPad mini.
Comparison: M1 MacBook Pro vs. Razer Book 13
Razer in November released the Razer Book 13, a new portable laptop focused on productivity rather than gaming. Since it is similar in many ways to the M1 Macs that Apple recently launched, we decided to compare the Razer Book 13 with the M1-based 13-inch MacBook Pro to see how they stack up.
While the MacBook Pro wins out in terms of performance and efficiency, the Razer Book 13 is a capable laptop for those who need or prefer the Windows operating system. Our comparison provides a deeper dive into tech specs, features, and more.
Review: Belkin's 3-in-1 Boost Charge Pro Offers Hassle-Free 15W MagSafe Charging for iPhone 12
Belkin's new Boost Charge Pro 3-in-1 Wireless Charger with MagSafe is now available to order from Apple at a $10 discount from its normal $150 price tag, and ahead of time, we got our hands on the accessory to see if it's worth the cost.
All in all, if you're looking for a multi-device charger for an iPhone 12, this is the one to get in our view. It works with any iPhone 12 model, the Apple Watch, and AirPods, and it's just $30 more expensive than Apple's MagSafe Duo. And as an Apple-certified MagSafe accessory, the Boost Charge Pro is capable of delivering up to 15W of power to iPhone 12 models, whereas unofficial magnetic wireless chargers are still limited to up to 7.5W charging.
Belkin also offers a MagSafe-compatible car vent mount for iPhone 12 models, available for $39.95 from Apple's online store.
This Week Marks the 10th Anniversary of the Mac App Store
While the App Store launched on the iPhone in July 2008, the Mac App Store arrived on January 6, 2011, when Apple released Mac OS X Snow Leopard version 10.6.6. Accordingly, this week marked the 10th anniversary of the Mac App Store!
Apple announced that the Mac App Store was "open for business" in a press release back in 2011. "With more than 1,000 apps, the Mac App Store is off to a great start," said Steve Jobs, Apple's co-founder and former CEO. "We think users are going to love this innovative new way to discover and buy their favorite apps."
Since its inception, the Mac App Store has attracted its fair share of criticism from developers. Apple has addressed some of these complaints over the years by allowing developers to offer free trials via in-app purchase, create app bundles, distribute apps on multiple Apple platforms as a universal purchase, view analytics for Mac apps, respond to customer reviews, and more.
In 2018, the Mac App Store received a major redesign as part of macOS Mojave, complete with a new "Discover" tab that highlights popular apps and games and features editorials from Apple. Another advancement to the Mac App Store came in 2020, when Apple made iPhone and iPad apps available on Macs with Apple silicon, given that all of the devices share Arm architecture.
All in all, Apple has certainly made progress with the Mac App Store over the last 10 years, but some developers feel that further improvements are necessary if they are to embrace the storefront.
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.