By Dan Moren
April 20, 2021 12:09 PM PT
The fine print: What Apple didn’t talk about
While you’re caught up in the whirlwind of an Apple event, it can be easy to fixate on what’s being said on stage. But with just about an hour of screen time, Apple’s certainly not going to talk about every little detail of its new announcements, which is why we all spend a lot of time combing the company’s website for the little tidbits that it doesn’t talk about. Here are a few significant things that I’ve found so far.
Apple Card Family
Unsurprisingly, you can only share your Apple Card with members of your Apple Family Sharing group.
Apple will also let you merge two Apple Card accounts if, say, two partners already each have one, and you get a higher shared credit limit while being able to keep the lower APR.
Credit reporting for members of the family over 18 is opt-in.
Apple Podcast Subscriptions
Like Apple’s other digital stores, its new podcast marketplace allows users to pay creators directly. And, like those other stores, it has similar terms: there’s a $19.99 annual charge for the Apple Podcasters Program, which is available starting today. Subscriptions are monthly by default, with an annual option as well. And according to my brief look at the terms, Apple will take a 30 percent commission on the first year of a subscription, with a drop to 15 percent if auto-renew is enabled.
Ads and sponsorships can still be used in paid podcasts, and Apple doesn’t get a cut of those. And, from what I can tell, the deal with Apple isn’t exclusive, meaning that you can still run a membership program elsewhere as well.
Also an interesting thing that I caught: one of the rights granted to Apple by putting your podcast up is the ability for Apple to create and make available transcripts (though it looks like creators can opt out). From an accessibility point, that would be a great feature of the podcast offering, since many podcasts don’t have the resources or wherewithal to provide one currently.
AirTags can be freely engraved, and offer a selection of emoji options—but only a selection. Sorry, no dancing lady for you.
An AirTag that has been separated from its owner for a long period of time will make an audible noise when it’s moved, as part of a privacy feature to let you know there’s a tag present. You can reset an AirTag by tapping with an iPhone or “NFC-capable device”—strange wording that implies maybe other non-Apple devices? (Update: John Gruber says this means “Android devices.”)
The tags are powered by standard CR2032 batteries and are user-replacable, making it the first Apple device to let users easily replace the batteries in a long, long time.
There are several first-party AirTag accessories available, and all of them are at least as expensive as an AirTag itself. (That’d be $29 for the polyurethane AirTag Loop, which comes in four colors.)
Apple TV 4K
The biggest and best news: the Siri Remote is available for $59 on its own, and works with previous models of the Apple TV 4K and Apple TV HD.
And you’ll still be able to buy an Apple TV HD with the new remote for $149.
The new color calibration feature works on earlier models, including the Apple TV HD—you’ll just need to be running tvOS 14.5 or later and have a Face ID capable iPhone running iOS 14.5 or later.
AppleCare+ will be available for the Apple TV for the first time, covering two incidents of accidental damage every 12 months and three years of technical support.
Customers who purchase an Apple TV 4K will continue to get a free year of Apple TV+ and three free months of Apple Arcade.
Austria, Ireland, and New Zealand will get Siri on the Apple TV HD and later when tvOS 14.5 rolls out.
Also, the new Apple TV 4K contains a Thread radio, like the HomePod mini, possibly opening up more smart home tech possibilities.
The new iMac’s headphone jack is on the side, which is way easier to use than previously, when it was on the back.
The $1299 model seems to use the same binned M1 version as the $999 MacBook Air, with just 7 GPU cores. It also offers only four colors—green, pink, blue, and silver—has only two USB4/Thunderbolt ports, and doesn’t have Gigabit Ethernet or the Magic Keyboard with Touch ID (though the last two can be configured for an additional cost).
A VESA-mount version is available, but you’ll still need to configure it as such when you buy.
Magic Keyboard, Magic Trackpad, and Magic Mouse can all be color matched. (I haven’t yet determined if you can buy them separately and, if so, whether you still have color options.)
Only the extended Magic Keyboard with the number pad has an inverted-T arrow key configuration. 😞
[Read more about the M1 iMac here.]
iPad Pro and iPhone accessories
The new 12.9-inch iPad Pro is, indeed, half a millimeter thicker than its predecessor (6.4mm vs. 5.9mm) and both Wi-Fi and Wi-Fi + Cellular models are slightly heavier: the Wi-Fi model by 41g, the Cellular model by 42g.
Apple added new colors of the Leather Wallet, Silicone Case, Leather Sleeve, and Leather Case MagSafe accessories.
Updated at 5:10pm Eastern to add the Apple TV’s new Thread radio.
Updated on April 21, 8:47am Eastern, to fix some errors and add details about “non-Apple devices.”
[Dan Moren is the East Coast Bureau Chief of Six Colors. You can find him on Twitter at @dmoren or reach him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. The latest novel in his Galactic Cold War series of sci-fi space adventures, The Nova Incident, is available now.]
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