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Apple launches redesigns iMac, tracking tags and more

Apple CEO Tim Cook at an Apple press event in October.
The unveiling of the new iMacs, under Apple CEO Tim Cook (pictured in October), comes as businesses and schools begin to reopen — and may require new equipment.
(Brooks Kraft / Apple Inc.)

Apple Inc. rolled out the first redesign of its flagship desktop iMac computer in almost a decade, showcasing its latest machine with in-house designed chips instead of those made by Intel Corp.

At a Tuesday product event, the Cupertino, Calif.-based technology giant also launched a new accessory called AirTag that will find physical items like bags, wallets and keys. And it unveiled an upgraded Apple TV set-top box with a faster processor and revamped remote control, giving its living room strategy a boost as Amazon.com Inc., Google and Roku Inc. continue to launch competing devices.

The new iMacs come in a new 24-inch screen size, up from 21.5-inches on the previous entry-level model. They are far thinner than their predecessors and have slimmer edges. They also come in seven different colors, have a 1080p camera, better speakers and improved microphones for video conferencing.

The computers run Apple’s M1 custom processor, first released in the MacBook Air, entry-level MacBook Pro and Mac mini last year. By shifting the iMac to its own processors, the company has now replaced Intel chips for its own designs in most of the Mac line. Apple plans to launch higher-end MacBook Pros with its own chips later this year and well as a smaller Mac Pro desktop computer with an Apple processor by next year, Bloomberg News has reported.

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The new iMac starts at $1,299 compared with $1,099 for the previous model with Intel chips. Apple last redesigned the iMac in 2012. The company didn’t announce upgrades to the larger and more powerful iMac models.

The new machines also include an upgraded power adapter that can magnetically attach to the back of the iMac and four USB-C ports. The company is also offering three new keyboard options for the new iMacs: a standard color-matched one, a keyboard with a Touch ID fingerprint scanner, and another with a fingerprint scanner and a number pad. The company is also offering new mouses and trackpads that are color-matched to the iMacs.

While much of the computer industry focuses on laptops, the iMac remains a key part of Apple’s portfolio. The first iMac, launched in 1998, has been credited with helping Apple escape bankruptcy and steer a path toward becoming the world’s most valuable company. The all-in-one desktop line is popular with professionals and consumers seeking large screens at relatively affordable prices.

The launch of new iMacs comes as businesses and schools begin to reopen after COVID-19 vaccinations have become more readily available in some countries. Some businesses may require new equipment for those returning to the office, which could boost sales of the iMac.

The Mac line generated about $8.7 billion in the fiscal first quarter ended in December, the most during a holiday period in years. Bloomberg News reported on the new iMac design earlier this year.

Announced at the same event Tuesday, the AirTag looks like a small white-and metal puck and can attach to a key chain by way of a leather sleeve with a clip. The company said it would sell an individual AirTag for $29 or in packs of four for $99. The gadget will be available April 30, Apple said. The accessory will work with an updated version of the Find My app on all of the company’s major devices, adding third-party items to Apple’s service for tracking the location of iPhones, iPads, Apple Watches and other products.

AirTags have been in development for more than two years.

For an unannounced product, the AirTag has been quite controversial. The device has given smaller companies antitrust fodder against the iPhone maker. Tile, which has made a similar accessory for years, has filed antitrust complaints about Apple’s Find My app and the perceived advantage Apple would give its own upcoming product.

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Earlier this month, Apple opened its Find My app to third-party devices. It’s also allowing the makers of third-party devices, such as bicycles and headphones, to integrate location chips to be found by the Find My app without additional hardware.

Samsung has been selling versions of its own physical item tracker. Sales of AirTags would likely be included in Apple’s growing segment of Wearables, Home, and Accessories, which generated more than $30 billion in the fiscal year ended in September.

The A12 Bionic chip in the new Apple TV device is an upgrade over the A10 processor in the previous model. The new box supports higher-frame-rate video, providing an improved viewing experience, Apple said in a demonstration on Tuesday.

The latest model will also include a revamped, all-metal remote. The new Apple TV box will launch in the second half of May after going on sale April 30. It will start at $179.


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