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Apple’s New iPhone, iMacs, and More: A Choose-Your-Own-Adventure Explainer

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Today, April 20th, at Apple’s “Spring Loaded” 2021 event, the company that Jobs built fired off a confetti cannon of products. A new iMac. A new iPhone color. A new Apple TV. A new iPad Pro. A whole new product line in the AirTag. Random bounty has been the defining feature of the company’s spring showcases, and, as you can tell, Tim Cook and Co. did not disappoint.

So we’re going to lean into the randomness with this, a Choose Your Own Adventure breakdown of Apple’s key product launches from the spring event. You can just skim it, because honestly, we’re all busy. Or you engage with this whole idiotic concept and click the links to jump around within the story. (Unless you’re on Google AMP, a true hellbane of intra-article linking—in which case, click here and it should take you to a version that works.)

Alright. Let the adventure begin.

You see Tim Cook step out onto the grassy surround of Apple’s futuristic Cupertino campus. It’s sunny. He wears a simple, well-fitting black t-shirt and his trademark soft smile. It’s the smile of man who’s about to drop some cool shit that’s going to make everyone bored with their not-as-cool shit. You’re fired up. You know Apple always saves the coolest shit for last, and prepare for the long haul. You stand up to refill your giant, but half-empty, water bottle because you got caught up in the recent hydration discourse.

Oh hell. Oh no. You knocked over your water bottle, which spilled right onto:

Your phone. Dammit.

Your laptop. Shiiiiiiiit.

The Apple iPhone 12 in Purple

The iPhone 12 and 12 Mini in Purple. 

Apple launches new iPhone models in the fall. You knew this, so you weren’t expecting Tim Cook to unveil the iPhone 12S XL Pro Magnum or whatever today. But nothing says Apple can’t drop new colors of an iPhone any damn time it pleases, and that’s what it’s done. Welcome the iPhone 12 in purple. Or, welcome the iPhone 12 Mini in purple, and the iPhone 12 in purple. But do not welcome either version of the iPhone 12 Pro in purple, because that’s what Tim Cook has announced. The Pro is for serious, non-purple people. Which is too bad, because the Apple iPhone 12’s purple—which is more like a lilac—is a nice color. Delicate and unexpected.

You decide that on the first possible day—Friday, April 23rd—you will pre-order yourself a new Apple iPhone 12 in purple to replace the very wet iPhone currently sitting in a bowl of rice on your kitchen counter. Your beautiful purple iPhone will likely arrive April 30th, the first day it’s available in stores. You also order an iPhone case, which will render the color moot, because you’re not stupid.

In the meantime, you go to look for your previous iPhone from, like, four years ago? Five? It’s round, not squared off, you know that much. But where is it?

Ugh! Losing things sucks.

It’s over there, next to my iPad. My slightly dusty iPad.

The New Apple AirTag

The AirTag, Debra’s new savior. 

Airtag Hermés accessories, the forgetful flex. 

Losing things—particularly expensive, hard-to-replace things—sucks. Apple knows this. So it now offers the Apple AirTag, a Bluetooth-enabled tracker that you can fasten to anything to make sure you know exactly where it is. You’ll know that because the AirTag will show up in the Find My app (formerly known as the Find My iPhone app). The app will point you in the right direction, basically playing Warmer Colder using the camera and AR.

If by some chance you’re not in Bluetooth range, an AirTag’s location can be triangulated using a mesh network of any nearby iPhones, which will pass along the object’s placement while still keeping your personal information encrypted. This may be the only good version of crowdsourcing.

Apple’s also kindly offered a whole host of colorful attachments—lanyards and key fobs and straps, including a posh Airtag Hermés selection. You can even engrave each AirTag with text or a selection of emoji.

You learn that one AirTag will costs $29, a pack of four will cost $99, and they’re available Friday, April 30th. You already know what you’ll be attaching yours to…

Your Apple TV’s forever-missing, godforsaken remote.

Your dog, a good boy, the best boy.

The New iPad Pro

The new 12.9″ iPad Pro XDR with its super-powered new screen. 

“New” is doing a lot of work here, but the Apple Associates still made some noteworthy changes.. This updated iPad Pro has a few key flexes: Better cameras on the back, in the same square formation as the iPhone 12. Apple’s powerful new M1 chip that debuted in the new MacBook Air and MacBook Pro 13”. Crucially for anyone trying to live that Zoom-heavy WFH lifestyle, a front-facing camera mounted on the “top” when in landscape mode—i.e., when it’s in the keyboard case. You have the current iPad Pro, which is powerful enough to do lots of cool things, but when you’re on a video call, that dumb side-mounted camera makes it look like you’re staring off at a wall.

Oh, and the bigger, 12.9” iPad Pro XDR gets Apple’s new Liquid Retina XDR screen, which has ten thousand teensy little LEDs, allowing it to be both brighter (up to 1,000 nits at max sustained brightness) and have an impressive 1,000,000:1 contrast ratio. It’s a truly big, beautiful iPad screen—one that will make colors pop and images sing. This new iPad Pro XDR and its glorious screen makes you think of some of your other favorites screens. Screens like…

Your laptop screen, which always feels so small and cramped. You long for a truly immersive Zoom experience.

Your TV, one of the best screens in the house, maybe the best.

The New AppleTV

The Apple TV and its non-garbage remote.

Yes. You love watching TV. So good. The shows? These days? Some of the best. Maybe not as good as the Sopranos, but what is? Here’s something that’s as good as the Sopranos: an Apple TV remote that doesn’t have a touchpad that’s jumpier than an old deaf dog. The new Apple TV 4K has some nifty tricks, like how it can use your iPhone’s sensors to adjust the picture quality to better suit your room’s lighting. It also supports HDR and Dolby Vision video, which sound like good things to have. But the real excitement here is that Apple TV 4K owners are no longer saddled with a remote as torturous as any of Saab Dad’s garbage sons.

That’s because the new Apple TV remote works like…an old iPod. You remember, the one that had the touch circle. No, not the first iPod, with the circle that actually spun around. The fourth one? Where the circle didn’t move, so you just swept your finger around it, but the corners still clicked. This new 2021 remote is like that one—a touchpad circle with heavenly clicky buttons. It also has Siri, which will still make you repeat “Grand Designs” nine times.

You’re really glad the Tim Team has brought you this new Apple TV 4K with its infinitely better remote. You’re thinking that remote is definitely worth the $179, and you will order it on April 30th, when it is first available, and wait enthusiastically for it to arrive in early May.

All this talk of TV makes you want to watch some TV. You sit down with your now-obsolescent Apple TV remote and try to watch Peaky Blinders—but your thumb moves by a quarter of a millimeter and instead you end up selecting Ink Masters, Dave Navarro’s tattoo artist reality show from 2012. Enraged, you hurl the remote, which…

Smashes into your computer screen. It’s cracked. This sucks.

Flies out a window, into the yard, which is overgrown because you’ve been watching TV instead of mowing the lawn. The remote is impossible to see.

The New Apple iMac

Extra points for working purple into your interior decor color story. 

WHOA! Wow. What a surprise! Not only has the Cook Crew delivered a hella thin new iMac—at just 11.5 millimeters thick, it looks like a giant floating iPad Pro—but they did so with colors. Eight of them: green, yellow, orange, pink, purple, blue, and a very normal silver, and all available for order come April 30th. The new iMac comes with Apple’s powerful new M1 chip that debuted in the new MacBook Air and MacBook Pro 13”. The screen is 24 inches and 4.5K. That’s a half-a-K more than you usually see!

Oh, and you can get color-matched peripherals with the new iMac: the Magic Mouse, Magic Trackpad, and a Touch-ID-enabled Magic Keyboard. All these colors remind you of the original plastic all-in-one iMac G3, one of Steve Jobs early triumphs. Turned technology into a design statement. And the colors, they were so bright and cheerful.

Speaking of bright, cheerful colors…

I suddenly want more color in my life. A whole new color. One that makes me feel again, momentarily.

Sometimes I think about what it’s like to have synesthesia, like how Pharrell can “see” music. I want to see glorious truths dance before my eyes in scary, searing ultra-realism.

Your Pet Dog

You’d freak the hell out if you ever lost him. Sometimes you look down at him, lying on the rug in the sun, his tail wagging slowly whenever you make eye contact, just content to be near you, the person he loves most in this world. He’s dumb as a rock but, you think—you hope—happy, because his joys are simple and close at hand. 

You grab the leash, your furry bud, and walk outside. The pupper is happy. You are, too. It’s nice out. The sun’s setting. You pull out your phone to take a picture of the sunset, all hazy purples and pinks, because even though it’s cheesy and maybe a little tragic, this reflex to capture the natural world rather than just witness it, you’re not trying to police yourself right now. 

Then your phone falls. 

Shit.

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