Top Stories: Apple Music Lossless, M2 MacBook Pro Rumors, Apple Watch Redesign?
Apple continued to clear the decks of non-developer announcements ahead of WWDC this week, not only shipping the new iMac, iPad Pro, and Apple TV introduced at last month's "Spring Loaded" event but also revealing several other upcoming launches like new Lossless and Spatial Audio support for Apple Music and some new accessibility features.
There was also no shortage of rumors this week, including details on the upcoming MacBook Pro redesign, several other future Macs, and the Apple Watch Series 7. Apple itself has even leaked some upcoming Beats earbuds, so read on for details on all of these stories and more from the past week!
Apple Music Launching Spatial Audio With Dolby Atmos and Lossless Audio in June at No Extra Cost
As was rumored, Apple this week announced that Apple Music will be gaining support for two new audio formats in June, including Spatial Audio with Dolby Atmos support and lossless audio.
Spatial Audio, based on Dolby Atmos, is an immersive three-dimensional audio format that enables musicians to mix music so it sounds like the instruments are all around you in space. A similar version of Spatial Audio with head tracking has been available when listening to certain content like Apple TV+ shows on AirPods Pro and AirPods Max since last year.
Lossless audio refers to audio recordings that have been compressed without any reduction in the overall quality of the audio, which can result in an improved listening experience, although the difference between standard and lossless audio is not always obvious. Apple Music will have two lossless tiers, including "Lossless" and "Hi-Res Lossless."
Spatial Audio will be available for thousands of tracks at launch, with more to be added regularly. Lossless audio will be available for 20 million tracks at launch, and this will rise to 75 million by the end of the year.
Spatial Audio and lossless audio will be available in June for all Apple Music subscribers at no additional cost on devices running iOS 14.6, iPadOS 14.6, macOS 11.4, and tvOS 14.6 or later, according to Apple. However, we've learned that some Apple devices will not support lossless audio, including the HomePod and HomePod mini.
New iMac, iPad Pro, and Apple TV 4K Now Available at Apple Stores
Apple's new iMac and iPad Pro models powered by the M1 chip, as well as the updated Apple TV 4K with a faster A12 chip and redesigned Siri Remote, are now available for purchase at Apple Store locations as of Friday, May 21 in launch countries.
The new iMac is on display at most Apple Store locations in all seven colors, including green, yellow, orange, pink, purple, blue, and silver. Only the green, pink, blue, and silver models are available for purchase in store, with the remaining colors sold through Apple's online store.
Reviews were shared this week for the new iMac, iPad Pro, and Apple TV 4K:
- iMac Reviews: Impressively Fast With Long-Awaited Redesign
- iPad Pro Reviews: Mini-LED Display Looks Great, M1 Performance Held Back by iPadOS
- Apple TV 4K Reviews: A12 Chip is Noticeably Faster, Redesigned Siri Remote is Much Welcomed
Redesigned MacBook Pro Models With 10-Core Apple Silicon Chip Said to Launch as Early as This Summer
Apple plans to launch 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro models with an improved iteration of the M1 chip as early as this summer, according to Bloomberg's Mark Gurman. The new chip is said to include a 10-core CPU with 16-core or 32-core GPU options.
Gurman said the next-generation Apple silicon chip will also support up to 64GB of memory compared to the current maximum of 16GB with the M1 chip. The new chip is also said to support additional Thunderbolt ports for expanded connectivity.
As previously rumored, Gurman said the new MacBook Pro models will feature a redesigned chassis with the return of more ports, including an HDMI port, SD card slot, and a MagSafe magnetic charging cable.
Gurman said Apple is also working on a revamped MacBook Air with up to 10 graphics cores for as early as the end of the year, in addition to an all-new Mac Pro, a higher-end Mac mini with four Thunderbolt ports, and an Apple silicon successor to the Intel-based 27-inch iMac.
New 'Beats Studio Buds' Leaked in iOS 14.6 and tvOS 14.6
While not announced yet by Apple, the Release Candidate versions of iOS 14.6 and tvOS 14.6 have revealed new "Beats Studio Buds" earbuds.
Based on imagery discovered by MacRumors contributor Steve Moser, the "Beats Studio Buds" will have a compact, stemless design, similar to Samsung's Galaxy Buds and Google's Pixel Buds. This design has also been rumored for Apple's second-generation AirPods Pro.
Similar to many other Beats and AirPods models, the "Beats Studio Buds" are expected to feature Active Noise Cancellation.
It's unclear when the "Beats Studio Buds" will be released, but given they are showing up in the iOS 14.6 and tvOS 14.6 Release Candidates, the earbuds could be announced within the coming weeks.
Apple Watch Series 7 Might Feature Flat-Edged Design, New Green Color Option
The upcoming Apple Watch Series 7 will feature a flat-edged design, similar to the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro, and the addition of a new green case color option, according to leaker Jon Prosser.
Prosser said his source informed him that the flat-edged design isn't guaranteed to be for the Series 7, and could end up being for the Series 8, but it appears that Apple has prototyped a new flat-edged model at a minimum.
Apple Watch continues to evolve into an all-in-one health tool on the wrist, with features like heart rate tracking, the ECG app, and blood oxygen monitoring, and previous rumors have suggested that future Apple Watch models might be able to measure blood pressure, glucose, and alcohol levels.
If this rumor proves to be accurate, it would represent the first major design overhaul of the Apple Watch since its release in 2015.
You'll Soon Be Able to Control an Apple Watch Using Hand Gestures
Apple this week previewed a long list of new accessibility features coming soon, including AssistiveTouch for the Apple Watch, which will allow users to control an Apple Watch using hand gestures, without ever having to touch the display or controls.
Aided by on-device machine learning, the Apple Watch's gyroscope, accelerometer, and heart rate sensor will be able to detect subtle differences in muscle movement and tendon activity, and these movements will allow users to navigate a cursor on the Apple Watch's display through a series of hand gestures, like a pinch or a clench.
Apple said AssistiveTouch for the Apple Watch will be available with a software update. The feature will likely be part of watchOS 8, which is expected to be unveiled alongside iOS 15, macOS 12, and tvOS 15 at WWDC next month.
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.