Top Stories: iOS 14.5 Released, AirTag Launch, New iMac and iPad Pro Pre-Orders
After nearly three months of beta testing, Apple this week finally released iOS 14.5, the company's biggest update since the iOS 14 launch last September. One of the main new features included in the update is support for AirTags, Apple's item trackers that also finally became available this week some two years after their existence first leaked.
Apple this week also began taking orders for its new iMac, iPad Pro, and Apple TV models, although they won't be shipping until the latter half of next month, and we also got word that the next-generation Apple silicon chip presumably destined for revamped MacBook Pro models later this year has entered mass production. Read on for all of the details on these stories and more from the past week!
iOS 14.5 Released: Unlock Your iPhone While Wearing a Mask and More
Following nearly three months of beta testing, Apple this week finally released iOS 14.5 and iPadOS 14.5, and the software updates are packed with a long list of new features for iPhone and iPad users.
A key new feature is the ability to unlock an iPhone with Face ID while wearing a mask, by authenticating with an Apple Watch. iOS 14.5 also adds new emoji, support for 5G in Dual-SIM mode on iPhone 12 models, AirPlay 2 streaming for Apple Fitness+ workouts, new Waze-like features in Apple Maps, new Siri voices, a redesigned Podcasts app that hasn't been particularly well received, and more.
The first two betas of iOS 14.6 have also already been released for testing, but no major features or changes have been uncovered so far.
Everything New in iOS 14.5: Here's the 10 Best Features
In addition to the new features, Apple is now enforcing App Tracking Transparency. Starting with iOS 14.5, iPadOS 14.5, and tvOS 14.5, apps must ask for permission before tracking your activity across other companies' apps and websites for targeted advertising purposes. Users will be presented with a prompt to allow or deny tracking in apps when necessary.
Apple recently shared a video with more details about its new App Tracking Transparency requirement for those interested in learning more.
New M1 iPad Pros, 24-Inch M1 iMacs, Apple TV 4K, and Siri Remote Now Available to Order
Apple's new 24-inch iMac, iPad Pro with the M1 chip, and updated Apple TV 4K are now available to pre-order through Apple and third-party retailers, with initial orders set for delivery beginning Friday, May 21.
The redesigned Siri Remote is also available to pre-order with a similar shipping timeframe. It is compatible with the previous-generation Apple TV 4K and Apple TV HD, and is priced at $59.
AirTags and Purple iPhone 12 Models Now Available for Purchase and Arriving to Customers
Apple's new AirTag item tracker and the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 mini in a new purple color became available to pre-order starting Friday, April 23, and the first orders have now made their way into customers' hands. We also went hands-on with some AirTags and their accessories ourselves, so make sure to check out our video overview.
Priced at $29 each or $99 for a four-pack, users can attach an AirTag to personal belongings like a wallet, keys, purse, or backpack and then keep track of the location of those items in the Find My app on iPhone, iPad, and Mac.
When an item with an AirTag attached is lost but nearby, the Find My app displays an arrow that guides users towards the item, and the AirTag's built-in U1 chip provides very precise location accuracy when used with iPhone 11 and iPhone 12 models. Even when an AirTag-affixed item is lost in a faraway place, its location can be anonymously pinpointed by other Apple device users, as part of the crowdsourced Find My network.
Next-Generation 'M2' Chip Enters Mass Production Ahead of Redesigned MacBook Pro Later This Year
Apple is widely rumored to be working on redesigned 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro models powered by Apple silicon, and ahead of time, a report from Nikkei Asia this week claimed that mass production of Apple's next-generation "M2" chip is now underway.
There is a lot of anticipation for the new high-end MacBook Pro models, as the M1 chip already delivers impressive performance, which the so-called "M2" chip should build upon. Reputable sources like Bloomberg's Mark Gurman and analyst Ming-Chi Kuo have also claimed that the Touch Bar will be replaced with physical function keys, and that an HDMI port and SD card slot will return.
As of this month, Apple has updated four Mac models with Apple silicon, including the base model iMac, 13-inch MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, and Mac mini. Apple previously said that its transition away from Intel processors in Macs would be completed by around June 2022.
Hands-On With the Apple TV's New Color Balance Feature
With the launch of tvOS 14.5, Apple introduced a new Color Balance calibration option that's available for all Apple TV 4K and Apple TV HD models.
Available in the video section of the Apple TV settings app, Color Balance asks you to hold your iPhone to the screen as the television set flashes through a series of colors. Your iPhone reads the colors and compares them to industry-standard color profiles, recommending optimizations.
On our YouTube channel this week, we shared a video that goes hands-on with the new Color Balance feature to showcase how it works.
The color balance feature is super simple and takes just a few minutes, and it's a much easier process than adjusting a television set's settings. For the feature to work, you need to have an iPhone with Face ID.
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.