We saw some impressive announcements at Apple's latest event yesterday, including the new iMac in seven stunning colors and the totally revamped iPad Pro. Many of the technological advancements in both products seemed to come from the M1 chip. While these aren't the first products to include the M1 (it's also been seen in the Apple Mac Mini M1 (opens in new tab)), they definitely look like they're making the most of the new technology.
One of the most interesting aspects of yesterday's Apple event (opens in new tab) was the focus on creating a seamless working from home (opens in new tab) experience. The new iMac features the "best camera, mics, and speakers ever in a Mac", while the new iPad Pro has a new 'Center Stage' function that's perfect for streaming and video conferencing.
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The iMac 2021 features a 1080p FaceTime HD camera works together with the image signal processor in the M1 chip and the Neural Engine to enhance camera quality. This means that iMac users should be able to expect better noise reduction, greater dynamic range and improved auto exposure and white balance.
Meanwhile, the new iMac will also feature a "studio-quality three-microphone array for clearer calls and voice recordings". These mics are positioned to reduce feedback from the rest of the system, while directional beam forming should mean less background noise.
To enhance the working from home experience even more, the new iMac has two pairs of force-cancelling woofers placed side by side, each balanced with a high-performance tweeter. The speaker enhancements mean that iMac is able to support spatial audio when playing music and video with Dolby Atmos.
However, the new iMac isn't the only Apple product that seems designed to improve the way we all work from home. The new iPad Pro features an interesting new ultra wide angle front-facing camera that could totally revolutionize video conferencing.
Using this 12MP ultra wide camera and the machine learning capabilities of the new M1 chip, the iPad Pro features a new 'Centre Stage' video call function that's designed to recognize and keep users centered in the frame. If other people join in, the camera will detect them and smoothly zoom out to fit everyone into view. If the user moves around their space, Centre Stage will automatically pan to keep them in the shot.
Centre Stage isn't the only feature that will benefit home workers. The iPad Pro will now be capable of mmWave 5G (although mmWave is currently only in the US), making it easy for workers to dial into their Zoom calls from anywhere.
With home working becoming so prevalent over the past year, perhaps it's not surprising that Apple placed such a heavy emphasis on video conferencing in yesterday's event. Could it be that Apple predicts that the home working trend will continue, even after other effects from the global pandemic are mostly over? Well, based on these two new products, it certainly seems like this could be the case.
The base iMac 2021 model will be available in May, starting at $1,299 / £1,249 / AU$1,899 in four colors, while those with the gigabit Ethernet and USB 3 ports will start at $1,799 / £1,449 / AU$2,199 and will be available in seven colors.
Meanwhile, the 11-inch iPad Pro will begin at $799 / £749 / AU$1,199 and the 12.9-inch iPad Pro will cost $1,099 / £999 / AU$1,649. Both will be available to order on 30 April, and the products will begin shipping in the second half of May.
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