It's been a busy week for Apple. In anticipation of its much-hyped March 25th event, Apple has been drip-feeding fans and followers a slew of upgraded products across the board. From iPads to iMacs, it seems like nearly everything in Apple's lineup is getting a fresh coat of paint just in time for spring.
That's not all the news from Cupertino, though. After Apple's online store mysteriously shut down yesterday evening, a range of colorful new accessories landed for iPad, iPhone and Apple Watch along with newly enhanced versions of Apple's hit AirPods.
All of these surprise product drops seem to be leading up to something bigger, and thanks to some clues buried in the newest version of iOS, we may have an idea of what's coming next.
New iPad Air and iPad Mini models for 2019
On Monday, some familiar faces made an appearance on Apple's online shop. Newly refreshed editions of the bestselling iPad Air and iPad Mini made their debut to the delight of Apple fans looking for more budget-friendly tablet options. The updated 10.5 inch iPad Air is packed with Apple's A12 Bionic processor, delivering a 70% boost in performance and twice the graphics potential over previous versions.
The front and rear cameras have also been given a revamp, packing a whopping 7 megapixels for selfies and 8 megapixels for point-and-shoot photos. Most notably, the iPad Air now includes full support for the popular Smart Keyboard and Apple Pencil. This helps make the iPad Air an even more effective daily driver for folks looking to ditch traditional computers for the more intuitive tablet ecosystem.
For the iPad Mini, Apple has finally blessed the smaller tablet with the iconic high-resolution Retina Display. This, along with packing the same A12 Bionic chip as the iPad Air, helps bring the entry-level device up to par with its older siblings on the graphics front.
Also like the iPad Air, the new iPad Mini supports the Apple Pencil accessory for finer touch controls, handwriting and illustration. Keep in mind that the Apple Pencil supported by both of the new iPads is the first-generation model -- not the magnetically charging model supported by the more expensive iPad pro.
The iPad Air starts at $499 with Wi-Fi and 64GB of storage. The iPad Mini starts at $399 with Wi-Fi and 64GB of storage. Additional options are available for cellular data and more storage.
2019 refresh for iMac 21.5 inch and 27 inch
The hits kept coming on Tuesday morning with the arrival of refreshed iMacs boasting the latest Intel Core series chips. The biggest and most noticeable upgrades, though, are the stunning 4k and 5k displays that come standard with the 21.5- and 27-inch models respectively.
Apple is offering a range of custom spec options for power users to completely trick out their computer. All iMacs come standard 1TB of storage, and can be upgraded to 2TB along with more powerful chips and dedicated graphics cards. Prices range from $1,299 for the base model 21.5-inch all the way to $5,250 for the max spec 27-inch desktop.
New second-generation AirPods, accessories and more
This morning contained the biggest announcement in terms of the sheer number of products released. Right out the door, Apple announced the highly-anticipated second-generation AirPods.
These new models look identical to the originals on the outside, but the H1 chip powering the headphones packs up to 50% more talk time and twice-as-fast connection speeds to your device. You can even access Siri using just your voice with the always-on "Hey Siri" feature. Most notably, the new generation of AirPods introduces an optional Wireless Charging Case for on-the-go power.
The new AirPods start at $159, with an option for the Wireless Charging Case at $199. For first-generation AirPod owners, you can get in on the wireless charging action as well with a standalone Wireless Charging Case for $79. This case is compatible with both generations of AirPods.
In addition to the new AirPods, Apple released an entirely new wave of accessories for its family of products, including cases for the iPad and iPhone as well as new bands and straps for the Apple Watch. The vibrant new collection includes colors such as Spearmint, Papaya and Mellow Yellow to name just a few.
More surprises from Apple on the way
With the onslaught of new products and announcements from Apple, it's easy to imagine that the rest of the days leading to its special event will be anything but quiet. Some astute observers have been digging for clues into what might be coming next, and they may have found a big one in an unlikely place: iOS 12.
In the latest beta release of Apple's mobile operating system, curious developers have found references in the code to AirPower, Apple's long-delayed wireless charging station. Designed to charge multiple products at once, this power mat will be able to refill your iPhone, Apple Watch and AirPods without any extra cords. Based on the fact that Apple's new AirPods also dropped this morning, it seems like this discovery may be more than just a coincidence.
As Apple prepares to sink its teeth into the world of streaming services, it's nice to know that innovative products are still a priority at the world's most famous tech company. With just days to go until the special event, let's hope that Apple continues its countdown with even more surprising news.
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