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Although it’s been widely rumoured that Apple is planning to hold a major product event this month, it’s always hard to be absolutely certain until the official word goes out. After all, even if an event is planned, things can still go sideways, resulting in the event being delayed or rescheduled.
This is why Apple rarely provides anybody outside the walls of Apple Park with a heads-up more than a week before the event, but now it looks like maybe Siri didn’t get the memo — or in the very least the virtual assistant has jumped the gun.
Early this morning, MacRumors contributor Sami Fathi decided to ask Siri if it had any insight on when the next Apple event would be held, and received a surprising response revealing a date of next Tuesday, April 20.
The special event is on Tuesday, April 20, at Apple Park in Cupertino, CA. You can get all the details on Apple.com.Siri, responding to “When is the next Apple event.”
As Fathi explains, Siri isn’t necessarily offering up these details in all cases. For instance, Daring Fireball’s John Gruber shared that it works fine on his HomePods, but not on his iPhone or iPad. However, Gruber concedes that others are getting the answer on their Macs and iPhones.
In my case, the response across all of my devices is simply “You can get all the details about Apple events on Apple.com,” although in my case that’s possibly because I’m in Canada, and Siri has only been told to offer up this info in the U.S. right now.
Either way, if Siri is correct — and there’s no reason to assume that the voice assistant would have it wrong — then we can probably expect a formal announcement of the event to go out later today. Despite all of Siri’s machine learning capabilities, the virtual assistant wouldn’t have come up with that date on its own.
It’s also not the first time that Siri has leaked the date ahead of schedule for those with the presence-of-mind to ask the right questions — Siri was also the first to reveal the date for WWDC 2016 a few years back.
What’s Coming? AirTags
While we’d normally be hesitant to put too much stock in an AirTags announcement, as we’ve heard this song before, over and over again and again and again. Apple’s tracking tags have become almost mythic when it comes to the number of times we’ve heard they were going to launch at the very next Apple event.
This time, however, there’s a lot more tangible evidence pointing to the imminent arrival of AirTags than just the word of leakers and rumour-mongers.
Chief among these is Apple’s announcement of its new Find My network, opening the doors to third-party tracking tags that will offer more or less what we’ve been expecting from AirTags.
In other words, the infrastructure is in place and all the players are on the stage, so it’s fair to say that it’s time for the curtain to go up.
There’s actually every reason to believe that Apple had its AirTags ready to go since last fall, and has simply been waiting for the opportune time to release them. As interesting as they are in concept, they’re not a flagship product for Apple, so the company can afford to bide its time, and it was likely waiting to get enough third parties on board to help head off accusations of anti-competitive behaviour.
That said, we’re expecting Apple’s AirTags to bring something extra to the table beyond just the Apple logo. Rumours persist that the Apple-branded tags will include Ultra-Wideband support for more precise location tracking.
All the Find My network compatible products released so far only use Bluetooth, so UWB support would give AirTags a unique edge. Apple has already announced plans to make the UWB spec available to its third-party partners as well, but we don’t think the company will wait until somebody else has a UWB tag on the market before releasing its own AirTags, although there’s a remote possibility that it might not choose to enable the capability until later.
It’s going to be interesting to see how Apple handles AirTags in this regard, since it will give us some insight into exactly how concerned the company is about possible antitrust allegations stemming from this new product line.
What Else? The Mini-LED iPad Pro
The next big thing we’re expecting from Apple is a new pair of iPad Pro devices, with the 12.9-inch model getting a big display upgrade that will set it even further apart from its smaller 11-inch sibling.
We’ve been hearing reports of a 12.9-inch Mini-LED iPad Pro since last year, but these were focused exclusively on the larger model — to the point of making us wonder whether Apple even planned to release the 11-inch version at the same time.
However, as Apple’s iPad Pro plans have come into focus, it appears that it will be delivering the iPad Pro in both sizes, however the smaller iPad Pro will retain the same Liquid Retina display as found in the 2020 model.
Both versions will gain Apple’s fastest “A14X” chip, which is said to be on par with the M1 found in its new Apple Silicon Macs, along with an upgraded USB-C port — possibly even a Thunderbolt port — that will offer faster data transfers, support for a wider range of accessories, and maybe even faster charging.
On top of all of this, the 12.9-inch iPad Pro will get the new Mini-LED display, which will offer better contrast ratios and a brighter picture. While this should mark a dramatic improvement over the 2020 iPad Pro display technology, several analysts believe it’s just a stepping stone on the road to OLED displays on future iPads.
Unfortunately, due to a global chip shortage brought on by the global health pandemic and several other roadblocks, there’s also a good chance that Apple won’t have the larger iPad Pro ready to go on sale right away. A report yesterday from Bloomberg revealed that Apple is having definite production problems as a result of missing display components that will result in limited stock for the 12.9-inch iPad Pro. This will most likely result in Apple delaying its availability until later in the spring, much like it did with the iPhone 12 Pro Max and iPhone 12 mini last year.
This only affects the larger tablet, however, which explains why Apple is still planning to go ahead with its announcement next week, since the 11-inch iPad Pro is expected to go on sale right away. There’s also a remote possibility that Apple could begin selling the 12.9-inch iPad Pro at the same time, but stock levels are expected to be so constrained that it could make for a frustrating experience for consumers.