Smart Living | Devices

Devices | 09 Mar 2022

Apple Event Spring 2022: All the big announcements

5G was the low-key star at Apple’s spring product launch.

Apple’s springtime product launch event tends to be relatively understated affair, but this year’s featured a number of interesting new products nonetheless.

5G iPhone SE and iPad Air

With the refreshed iPhone SE and iPad Air, 5G is now available on more iOS and iPadOS devices than ever before. Many ‘early adopters’ and other tech enthusiasts will turn their noses up at the iPhone SE, as it has an older appearance compared to the very latest flagship iPhones. This matters less, if at all, to many iPhone SE customers who care more about value, having a look-and-feel similar to the older iPhone they already own and perhaps have a preference for the SE’s Touch ID fingerprint reader over the Face ID face recognition in the latest iPhones.

For them, the iPhone SE has value and familiarity in spades. While it looks a lot like its predecessors, going all the way back to 2014’s iPhone 6, inside it not only has all the advantages of 5G, it also has the latest A15 processor – the same one found in the iPhone 13 range – which will be able to run demanding apps and receive software and security updates for many years to come.

The iPhone SE may look ‘old’, but it’s exceedingly well future-proofed thanks to 5G and the A15.

The 5G iPad Air will be available in a range of colours that, curiously, don't exactly match the colours of Apple's other computing devices.
The 5G iPad Air will be available in a range of colours that, curiously, don't exactly match the colours of Apple's other computing devices.

With 5G now also available in the iPad Air, Apple has closed an odd gap in the cellular versions of its tablets. Before this spring announcement, only the iPad mini and iPad Pro models were available with 5G. But the Air – which sits between the two in both size, cost and features – was missing out. No longer.

The iPad Air also gains the Centre Stage feature for its forward-facing camera. So, when you’re on a video call, it can automatically adjust its view to accommodate people and objects as they enter and leave the frame. Powering it all is the same M1 processor found in the pricier iPad Pro as well as in many of Apple’s MacBook and Mac mini computers.

With all these changes, there are fewer differences than ever separating the iPad Air from the more professionally-orientated iPad Pros – namely, the rear cameras, screens, Face ID rather than Touch ID, and a Thunderbolt port rather than a plain USB-C port. For many, a 5G-equipped iPad Air could be perfect if you need a big-screened mobile computer on the go that’s always connected.

As we’ve predicted before, 5G is becoming the norm – rather than the exception – in smartphones and other mobile computing devices. With 5G now available in almost all of Apple’s current iPhone and iPad ranges, we’re likely to see even more app developers take advantage of 5G’s speed, low latency and reliability in their software.

Mac Studio

Apple’s transition away from Intel processors in its Mac desktops and laptops to its own custom-designed Apple Silicon chips continues. The new Mac Studio is a new desktop that looks a lot like a few of its existing Mac minis stacked on top of one other. It’s aimed squarely at the likes of professional video editors and graphics designers, with prices to match.

It comes equipped with a choice of either M1 Max or M1 Ultra processors, a wider-than-ever selection of ports from 10 Gigabit Ethernet to Thunderbolt 4, and up to 128GB of RAM on some configurations.

The Mac Studio gives existing and new Mac users a wider choice of configurations at varying prices when deciding which Apple Silicon-equipped computer to plump for.

The Mac Studio and Studio Display are aimed at demanding users, such as illustrators and photographers.
The Mac Studio and Studio Display are aimed at demanding users, such as illustrators and photographers.

To accompany any Mac, Apple also introduced the Studio Display – a 27in highly colour-accurate monitor with 5K resolution, a USB-C hub and a Thunderbolt 3 port. Unusually, it has a webcam with the same Centre Stage feature as the iPad Air – that is made possible by the fact that it has the same A13 processor as the iPhone 11 – and a six-speaker set-up that supports spatial audio.

iPadOS and iOS 15.4

Just as important is the news that Apple saved for after the event had finished. Arriving the week of 14 March, iOS 15.4 adds several new features, some of them small. One of the big ones is support for face masks in the Face ID face recognition system on the iPhone 12 series and later.

Before, Face ID wouldn’t work as your mask would obscure part of your face. Face ID can now be set up to recognise your face while you’re wearing a mask, although Apple cautions this will be less secure. Even so this will still be useful not only in the event of a new coronavirus variant prompting a return of mask mandates in places that have lifted them, but also in places such as East Asia where mask wearing during cold and flu season is common.

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The most eye-catching new feature in iPadOS 15.4 is Universal Control. When used with a compatible Mac, this allows you to alternate between controlling a Mac and an iPad using the same Bluetooth keyboard and mouse. Long-time computer aficionados will recognise this feature as a form of Keyboard Video Mouse switch or KVM.

These hardware devices have long existed, enabling you to control various computers using a single keyboard and mouse. Here, though, Universal Control works entirely through software which is impressive. Not everyone will have a need for Universal Control, but it will be welcomed by those that do. It’s the latest in a long line of features that work across Apple’s computing devices, designed to inspire loyalty to the company’s various products.

Browse the full range of iPhones and iPads on the Vodafone UK website.