This past week Apple has held their April hardware launch event. However, the purview of what is normally a relatively low-key event was expanded this year. Apple’s event was so large that counter to Apple’s normal one or two products that they launch in April, Apple released or upgraded 5 products during the event. And that was not including the typical raft of mid-term software updates the company normally announces at their product conferences.
What was interesting about this event though was two specific products that may revolutionise travel in multiple ways. The first was the new iPad Pro. Apple, last year, released their new range of Macbooks which were powered by Apple’s own in-house designed and built M1 chip. Apple has previously been powered by Intel chips (which is the same chip that powers Microsoft’s Windows products). Apple was not expected to pull any rabbits out of hats with their range of chips.
What the public got though was a ridiculous leap forward in processing power. That one Apple M1 chip ended up being almost as powerful as the most expensive and powerful Intel i9 chip at a fraction of a cost. Apple began selling Macbook Airs for a similar price to a low-end Ultrabook with almost five times the power.
I mentioned the iPad Pro above because Apple has managed to integrate the M1 chip in their iPad Pro, which means the iPad Pro now has a similar amount of power packed into it as a Macbook Pro. Better still they have been able to integrate 5G into this new iteration of the iPad. Making it a speed gamechanger not from the point of view of internal processing but external wireless as well. It might not look like it but that one device, for many business travellers, is going to have the ability to replace their typical Notebook day today.
And with integration between Apple’s macOS software (for iMac, Macbook, Macbook Air and Macbook Pro) and iOS software (for iPhone, iPod and iPad) this means that the typical consumer can effectively have an iMac (which Apple also released at the event) in the office and an iPad Pro for out of office (which can also remotely access the iMac on the run with the integration of 5G into the iPad Pro).
The other gamechanger was not a gamechanger at all (confusing I know). What I mean by that statement was that the technology for this new product has been around for a decade or so. Apple released a product called the AirTag. It is basically a cheap tracker device that can be used to help locate things.
What truly changes the game with the AirTag though are two things. How Apple tracks the device and how they’ve designed it. Let’s start with device tracking. Apple uses a high-powered low energy consumption Bluetooth to connect the device to other Apple devices around it. Every time an iPhone drives by the device it pings a last seen location.
The second, the design, is the gamechanger for travel. Typical tracking devices used to locate keys or wallets are designed for just that. Apple’s design has included accessories such as baggage tags. This means that you can put a locked AirTag on your checked bags and if they get lost you can know exactly where they are, helping both yourself and airlines locate baggage.
Other products released included the aforementioned iMac, new colours for the iPhone 12 and a range of accessories for the AirTag. Apple also previewed mid-version software updates for iPadOS which included app enhancements, compact calls and scribble (a feature that converts handwriting to typing).