Top Stories: 'Thinner and Lighter' MacBook Air, Smaller iPhone 13 Notch, iOS 14.4 Incoming

We continued to hear a lot more about Apple's plans for its Mac lineup this week, including word of a high-end redesigned MacBook Air and the return of an SD card slot as part of the upcoming MacBook Pro redesign. It also sounds like Apple has been working on Face ID for Mac, but it won't be appearing in a redesigned iMac this year as originally planned.

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This week also saw rumors about the iPhone 13 getting a smaller notch, and Apple is just about ready to unleash a set of operating system updates including iOS 14.4 and macOS 11.2, as Release Candidate versions of all of the updates were pushed out to developers and other testers this week. Read on for details on all of these stories from the past week!

Apple Working on 'Thinner and Lighter' High-End MacBook Air With MagSafe, Could Launch in Second Half of 2021

Following up on last Friday's batch of rumors, Bloomberg's Mark Gurman came out with a new report this week sharing a few more details on Apple's product plans. Most notably, Gurman says that Apple is working on a thinner and lighter MacBook Air that could launch later this year or sometime next year. The new MacBook Air will include an updated Apple silicon chip, MagSafe charging, and perhaps a smaller body enabled by shrinking the display bezels.

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The redesigned MacBook Air is said to be a high-end model that will be sold alongside cheaper models that continue to use the current design. Apple reportedly considered making a 15-inch version of the MacBook Air to go along with the popular 13-inch size, but has opted not to move forward with the model, at least for the next generation.

iPhone 13 Rumored to Feature Smaller Notch, Sensor-Shift Camera Stabilization on All Models

Apple plans to combine various Face ID components into one module to allow for at least a slightly smaller notch on iPhone 13 models, according to DigiTimes.

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The same report claims that Apple plans to extend sensor-shift optical image stabilization to the entire iPhone 13 lineup, compared to only the iPhone 12 Pro Max among current models. The technology stabilizes the camera's sensor instead of individual lenses for even greater image stabilization. Coupled with a larger sensor, users can expect even better photo quality.

Earlier this month, DigiTimes reported that the LiDAR Scanner will also be expanded to the entire iPhone 13 lineup, while mmWave 5G is expected to become available on iPhone 13 models sold outside of the United States.

Face ID for iMac Likely Pushed Back to Second Iteration of Upcoming Redesign

Gurman also shared that while Apple has been working on developing Face ID technology for its Mac lineup and was planning to introduce it in the upcoming redesigned iMac he discussed last week, Apple has decided not to include it in the initial version.

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In addition, he says that Apple has tested offering cellular connectivity for its Mac lineup, but it sounds like that's not coming soon either.

Next MacBook Pro to Feature SD Card Reader

Redesigned MacBook Pro models are also in the works, as reported by Bloomberg last week, and one of the tidbits from that initial report was that the new designs will include more ports than the current models.

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This week's report expounds upon that claim a bit, specifically claiming that the new MacBook Pro models will include the return of an SD card slot, making it easier for photographers and other users of the popular removable storage standard to directly use the cards in their Macs without the need for a separate card reader.

iOS 14.4 Release Candidate Now Available

Apple this week seeded the Release Candidate version of iOS 14.4 and iPadOS 14.4 to developers and public beta testers. This version should mirror the final release of the software updates coming soon.

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iOS 14.4 and iPadOS 14.4 are relatively minor updates. Apple's release notes confirm that iOS 14.4 introduces a notification for when the camera is unable to be verified as a new, genuine Apple camera on the iPhone 12 mini, iPhone 12, iPhone 12 Pro, and iPhone 12 Pro Max, and there are several other bug fixes. The update also enhances Handoff functionality with the HomePod mini.

Apple has also seeded Release Candidate versions of macOS 11.2, watchOS 7.3, and tvOS 14.4 for testing. All of the software updates should be released to the public in the near future.

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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.

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Top Rated Comments

Zen_Arcade Avatar
15 weeks ago
Just kill the touchbar already. It is one reason I bought an M1 Air.

Adding a usb-a, hdmi, sd slot, and magsafe the MBP would be ideal, but hard to believe it will happen, no matter how practical they would be for a lot of people.
Score: 11 Votes (Like | Disagree)
cmaier Avatar
15 weeks ago

Bring the Touch Bar. I don’t understand why Apple can’t give the option of having the F keys “always on” for those that dislike the Touch Bar. Make both sides happy at the same time. Didn’t realize so many people depend on the F keys.
That doesn’t solve the problem for anyone. The issue isn’t that the f-keys are not available. It’s that they offer no tactile feedback and are not raised, and do not require pressure. So touch typists accidentally trigger them, and less skilled touch typists can’t be sure they are hitting the right one - because you aren’t supposed to look at the keyboard when you are typing.
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)
JFerrari Avatar
15 weeks ago
Thinner and lighter does not equal better product. I would much rather have a MacBook Air that is slightly thicker and heavier and have incredible battery life, more ports, and more features and tech. Bring Promotion/new display tech, FaceID, improved camera, more ports back...all of those things require energy. Thinner products throttle any of those features from becoming reality.
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)
applicious84 Avatar
15 weeks ago

Bring the Touch Bar. I don’t understand why Apple can’t give the option of having the F keys “always on” for those that dislike the Touch Bar. Make both sides happy at the same time. Didn’t realize so many people depend on the F keys.
It's because they're tactile. If they really had to find a way, they might add dynamic oled displays to each key, and let them change for each app, while allowing them to be fixed for people who depend on them in settings. It's still a compromise from the old touch bar, but it's sooo much more useful for people who depend on those function keys.
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
adamw Avatar
15 weeks ago
Looking forward to the SD Card slot for all my photos and video camera work flow.
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
bradman83 Avatar
15 weeks ago

Just because you can use an underpowered charger to charge the lowest end MacBook doesn't mean it's going to charge as fast. Including an expensive 96 watt charger with an iPad or MBA seems like overkill. But if you want to buy one, or stick with slower charges, more power to you.
Correct, it would be overkill, but for those people who have higher capacity chargers the ability of those chargers to power any other USB-C device is highly convenient. My MacBook Pro charger can also power my Windows work laptop, my iPad Pro, my wireless rechargeable keyboard and mouse, my camera, and a handful of other devices. The charger for my Windows work laptop can do the same. The charger for my iPad Pro can recharge my laptops while asleep and any of the other devices, etc. I liked MagSafe, but the convenience of a truly universal power adapter is legitimate and hopefully Apple continues to enable it as an option if they return to a proprietary MagSafe format. (I can’t imagine they wouldn’t given the popularity of USB-C/Thunderbolt 3 docking stations).
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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