FAQ | Was That It for Apple in 2021? What Else Could Be Coming This Year?

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It’s already been a pretty eventful fall for Apple product releases. First we saw the iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 Pro lineups landing in September, alongside the Apple Watch Series 7, iPad mini 6, and more. This was then followed by last week’s Unleashed event, with new M1 Pro and M1 Max chips powering the long-awaited high-end MacBook Pro lineup, plus the highly anticipated AirPods 3, and a few other big surprises.

So, with this flurry of new product activity, we’re left with a few questions: Is this all that Apple has to show us this year, or could there still be more products coming between now and December 31? Or even another Apple event?

To be clear, there are still a few big things we didn’t see at last week’s event, and Apple has surprised us with some surprisingly timed product releases in the past.

For example, even though Apple held an unprecedented three fall events last year, it still had one more big product up its sleeve that didn’t get stage time, with the AirPods Max landing in December via press release.

The AirPods Max were Apple’s first-ever set of over-ear headphones, so it’s fair to say that this was a pretty big deal, and if Apple can fail to announce a product like that at three different events and then sneak it out later via press release, we’d say almost anything’s possible for the remainder of 2021.

A November Apple Event?

Well, at least we’d say almost any product is possible. While some have speculated that Apple could hold another event in November, like it did last year, it’s fair to say that won’t be happening.

Even though it’s arguably easier for Apple to hold more virtual events, since it doesn’t have to worry about dragging journalists and other media all the way out to Apple Park each time, last year’s trifecta of Apple product launches were the result of an entirely different fallout from the global health pandemic.

Apple has also never before held three Apple events in the fall. It’s fair to say that 2020 was an aberration, brought on solely by the need to delay the iPhone launch into October. Since that crosses into a new fiscal quarter, Apple didn’t want to delay the other products that were ready, such as the Apple Watch Series 6 and the iPad Air.

Had supply chain problems not forced Apple to delay the iPhone 12 launch into October, it’s quite likely that last year’s Apple event schedule would have looked much more this fall’s California Streaming and Unleashed events. After all, Apple’s September 2021 event included mostly the same product lineups that it announced separately during Time Flies and Hi, Speed in the September and October last year.

In fact, the only thing missing from California Streaming was the HomePod mini, and Apple even addressed that by sneaking it as part of the opening act for Unleashed, despite the only major change being three new colour options.

While there may still be some surprises coming in the next couple of months, we don’t think there’s going to be enough to fill another Apple event. That doesn’t mean Apple won’t slip a few things out more quietly, however.

New Mac mini with M1 Pro/Max

One of the products that was most consciously missing from last week’s Unleashed event was the rumoured higher-end Mac mini, and it’s the one thing that we think Apple has to release soon if it wants to restore balance to the force of its M1 lineup.

Consider the symmetry here: Last year, Apple debuts its insanely powerful new M1 chip, placing it in its entry-level Macs. That’s the MacBook Air, the base model 13-inch MacBook Pro, and a “lower-end” Mac mini. The “higher-end” MacBooks and Mac mini remain on the market with Intel chips, since these offer configurations that the standard M1 can’t handle.

This fall, in one fell swoop, Apple eliminates the last Intel MacBooks from the family with the release of the new 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro lineup, powered by its crazily souped-up M1 Pro and M1 Max chips. The circle is now complete — mostly.

The one missing piece? The M1 Pro/Max Mac mini. Instead, we have the same lineup as before. Two “entry-level” M1 Mac mini configurations with a more expensive Intel Core i5 6-core configuration on the “higher end.”

We have to believe this is something Apple wanted to address last week, and when we think about how short the Unleashed event turned out to be, it wouldn’t surprise us if Apple had to pull the Mac mini out at the last minute.

Unleashed ran 50 minutes in total. That’s about the same run time as last year’s One More Thing November Mac event, but it’s also worth keeping in mind that one was all about the Mac. This time around, Apple spent the first 14 minutes talking about Apple Music, colourful HomePods, and the new AirPods 3. Maybe the Music section was thrown in to fill time.

That’s just a theory, of course, but we don’t think it’s unfair to say that Apple wants to kill off the Intel Mac mini as soon as it can, but there’s probably more to this than just throwing M1 Pro/Max into the same chassis. The Mac mini is also rumoured to be getting a pretty big redesign, which is understandable when you consider how much larger these new M1 chips are.

With everything going on in the supply chain these days, it’s likely that Apple is wrestling with manufacturing problems. It’s a safe bet that Apple will announce the more powerful Mac mini as soon as it’s ready, however, which means we could see it show up just in time for the holiday season.

New 30-inch iMac with M1 Pro/Max

Many were hoping last week’s event would also herald the arrival of a new high-end iMac based on Apple’s more powerful silicon, but we think that was more of a long shot.

The rumour mill has been extremely quiet about the existence of a larger iMac, and based on Apple’s spring release of the M1-powered 24-inch iMac, it’s reasonable to assume that we could be waiting until next spring before its more powerful sibling arrives.

In fact, we don’t even have reliable information on the size. Several sources have suggested a 30-inch screen, but this seems to be largely speculation, perhaps based on the smaller iMac growing from 21.5 inches to 24 inches. That said, a larger screen does seem likely, possibly even with the same 120Hz mini-LED technology that came to the new MacBooks last week.

Some have also suggested Apple may resurrect the name “iMac Pro” for this one, to help distinguish it further from the 24-inch iMac. While that certainly seems like a possibility, it’s harder to say precisely what’s going to happen there, and as we’ve seen in the past, Apple’s naming conventions are usually much harder to pin down, especially this far in advance of the actual product release. It’s possible even Apple hasn’t made a final decision on that one yet.


While Apple threw us a curveball with the AirPods Max last December, it’s fair to say we shouldn’t expect to see any more new AirPods arrive this fall. Apple’s earphones seem to be settling into a 2.5-year cycle, and of course, we just saw the release of the AirPods 3 last week.

While the AirPods Pro are now hitting two years since their initial release, most sources suggest that we won’t see the second-generation version of those until at least next spring, which would be consistent with what Apple has done so far with its mainstream AirPods.

The AirPods Max are less than a year old, so it’s going to be even longer before we see a new version of those.

More Software Features

One thing that seems almost certain is that we’re going to see more enhancements to iOS/iPadOS and macOS before the end of the year.

Today marks the release of iOS 15.1, which brings a few more promised features, such as SharePlay, but there are still a few other things listed as “coming in a software update later this year,” including improved Maps in CarPlay, App Privacy Reports, the Digital Legacy program, and Digital IDs in Wallet. We expect we’ll see at least iOS 15.2 arrive before the end of the year, and possibly even iOS 15.3.

Likewise, macOS 12 Monterey hits the Mac today, but it’s still lacking one of its coolest new features: Universal Control. Like iOS 15.0 vs iOS 15.1, this will likely arrive in macOS 12.1 or 12.2.

[The information provided in this article has NOT been confirmed by Apple and may be speculation. Provided details may not be factual. Take all rumors, tech or otherwise, with a grain of salt.]

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