By Emily Bary
Apple Inc. is spicing up its iMac and iPad lines with new devices featuring the company’s custom M1 chip.
Apple (NAS:AAPL) unveiled a new iMac on Tuesday that comes in a variety of bright colors and includes Apple’s custom chip, which Apple says will allow the computer to stay cool without loud fan noises. The computer also has a 1080p camera for FaceTime, a new power adapter aimed at reducing desk clutter, and the iMac’s first instance of the TouchID fingerprint sensor for logins and purchases.
The device starts at $1,299 in four color options and Apple will expand the line to include seven colors in its $1,499 model that includes more ports and Ethernet connectivity. Both become available in the second half of May, with preorders starting April 30.
The company began rolling out Macs with its custom chips late last year. Though the Mac business had seen essentially flat sales from 2017 to 2019 , it witnessed a revival in 2020 during the pandemic as people rushed to buy devices that would help make remote work and schooling easier.
The electronics giant argues that the custom chip enables performance and other benefits over the Intel Corp. (NAS:INTC) chips Apple previously used in its Mac line, and Chief Executive Tim Cook said on the company’s latest earnings call that the chip gives Apple “a new growth trajectory that we haven’t had in the past.”
Apple will also start incorporating the M1 chip in its new version of the iPad Pro. The chip enables up to 50% faster CPU performance compared with the A12Z Bionic chip as well as up to 40% better graphics performance, according to the company. Cellular iPad Pro models will feature 5G connectivity.
Apple’s 12.9-inch iPad Pro will have what the company calls a Liquid Retina XDR display, which uses more than 10,000 light-emitting diodes to show better details even on darker images. The 12.9-inch model starts at $1,099 for the Wi-Fi version and $1,299 for the cellular version, while the 11-inch model starts at $799 for Wi-Fi and $999 for cellular. Both become available in the second half of May, with Apple opening up preorders April 30.
The iPad has been another hot category recently given the boom in remote work. Revenue for the segment grew at least 31% in each of the last three quarters of 2020, and analysts project 29% growth for the March quarter, which Apple is due to report next week.
For more: The pandemic may have permanently altered Apple’s path
Apple rolled out new iPads back in September as well, introducing an eighth-generation iPad that was the first of its entry-level tablets to feature the company’s neural engine. The company also introduced at the time a new iPad Air with enhancements to sound and camera quality, with Chief Financial Officer Luca Maestri calling out “terrific” reception to the device on Apple’s last earnings call in January.
Apple’s Tuesday event brought the long-awaited announcement of AirTag trackers, a new product category. The tags use Apple’s FindMy network to keep track of things by giving visual, haptic and other feedback to help people locate their AirTags and attached items. The device will cost $29, or $99 for a four-pack. Availability begins April 30, though people can preorder starting Friday.
Apple typically saves its iPhone announcements for the fall, though it did announce a new purple color option for the iPhone at Tuesday’s event. The company also will upgrade the Apple TV streaming device, adding an A12 chip and a newly designed remote control.
The company also plans to make its Apple Card easier for family members to use together. Spouses and partners will be able to build credit equally, which Cook said would make the process of managing credit more equitable. The company also will allow people to get Apple Cards for family members who are 13 or older, with the option for spending limits.
Apple is redesigning its podcasts app to make it easier for people to find shows from their favorite creators and sign up for paid subscriptions that could unlock perks like early access or an ad-free experience. Podcast creators face a similar payment schedule to app developers, with Apple taking a 30% cut in the first year and 15% in subsequent years, with a $19.99 annual fee. The new version of the app launches in May.
Apple’s spring event precedes its annual WWDC developer confab, which is due to kick off June 7. That event will feature updates to Apple’s various operating systems and perhaps some additional product announcements.
Shares of Apple have gained about 1% over the past three months as the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DOW:DJIA) , which counts Apple as a component, has risen 8%.