This week’s top stories: New MacBook Air rumors, Apple’s plans for a VR headset, and more

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In this week’s topstories: iOS 14.4 beta testing continues, rumors of a “higher-end” MacBook Air emerge, Apple VR headset coming in 2022, and much more. Read on for all of this week’s top Apple Stories.

Apple Watch Challenge

Apple’s next Apple Watch Activity Challenge has officially been scheduled. The first-ever “Unity Challenge” will be held from February 1 through February 28, and it encourages Apple Watch users to celebrate Black History Month by closing their Move ring seven days in a row.

As such, Apple has also added a new “Unity” watch face to the Apple Watch. The new watch face is currently available to beta testers as part of watchOS 7.3, and will be released to everyone soon.

Apple VR headset

Bloomberg reported this week that Apple’s first headset will primarily be a VR device, with limited AR capabilities. The headset will reportedly be a pricey, niche precursor to a more ambitious augmented reality product that will take longer to develop.

As a mostly virtual reality device, it will display an all-encompassing 3D digital environment for gaming, watching video and communicating. With premium features and performance, Apple’s first headset will be far more expensive than those from rivals, which cost about $300 to $900.

Apple has planned to launch the product as soon as 2022, but development delays have plagued the work on the headset so far, and more delays are not of the question.

AirPods Max

AirPods Max debuted in December, marking Apple’s premium entry into the over-ear headphones industry. The AirPods Max that were ultimately released, however, were different from what was rumored, and ultimately less customizable.

The expectations were that Apple would let users customize their headphones with a modular design. For example, you could attach the mesh headband for exercising, then switch to the leather material for added comfort design while indoors.

9to5Mac has discovered that iOS devices can see what “headband type” AirPods Max are using. That could be used to do things like correctly display AirPods Max in the UI. For example, iOS 14 would be able to tell if you were using the mesh headband with your AirPods Pro or if you were using the leather headband, and display the proper graphics.

iFixit also found that the AirPods Max headband can be easily removed with a paper clip.

Ultimately, while Apple hasn’t acknowledged this or launched any alternate headbands, it’s possible they could arrive in the future. It could also be that Apple has officially abandoned its plans to launch alternative headbands completely, and that these are just left over remnants of the initial idea.

New MacBook Air

Finally, Apple is reportedly preparing a “higher end” MacBook Air. The machine will reportedly be even thinner and lighter than the current MacBook Air, and include next-generation Apple Silicon inside.

In terms of design, Apple is reportedly shrinking the bezels around the screen to make it even smaller while still retaining 13-inches of screen real estate.

What’s important to note as well is that this new MacBook Air would be a higher-end option, complementing the existing entry-level MacBook Air. So it essentially sounds like we’d have a MacBook Air and a MacBook Air Pro. The new model will launch during second half of this year at the earliest or in 2022.

These and the rest of this week’s top stories below.

iPhone |

Apple Watch |

Mac and iPad |

Top Apple stories, retail |

AirPods |

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This week’s top videos |

9to5Mac Daily |

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January 22, 2021 – New MacBook Air rumors, iOS 14.4 RC

9to5Mac Daily

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Stories discussed in this episode:  

Bloomberg: Apple to launch ‘higher end’ MacBook Air with thinner bezels as soon as later this year, brings back MagSafe charging
iOS 14.4 RC now available to developers, here are the full release notes
watchOS 7.3 RC released to developers with new unity watch face, Time to Walk feature, ECG in more countries
macOS Big Sur 11.2 RC now available with Bluetooth improvements, M1 Mac fixes, more
Today only, MacBooks on sale from $790: 16-inch Pro $1,870, more (Open-box)
iOttie car mounts for iPhone and Android devices on sale from $20
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  1. January 22, 2021 – New MacBook Air rumors, iOS 14.4 RC
  2. January 21, 2021– Apple VR headset plans, more on iPhone 12S
  3. January 20, 2021 – AirPods Max design tidbits, more
  4. January 19, 2021– Foldable iPhone report, Apple Podcasts+
  5. January 18, 2021 – 2021 iMac rumors, iPhone 12S expectations

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  1. Miles Somerville on YouTube, drumming, and closing rings
  2. Arthur Ware on overcoming obstacles and becoming a Spartan athlete
  3. Anastasia Folorunso on Apple Watch Series 6, watchOS 7, and Fitness+
  4. Jeff Benjamin on Apple Watch Series 3 and Series 5 ahead of new models
  5. What’s new in watchOS 7? Sleep tracking, face sharing, hand washing, and more

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9to5Mac’s Benjamin Mayo and Zac Hall discuss what came out at CES this week, Samsung beatS Apple to AirTags, Apple’s first AR device, 2021 iPhone rumors, and more on this week’s episode.
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  1. Apple’s first AR device, iPhone 13 notch, Unity Apple Watch face
  2. MagSafe and more coming in 2021 MacBook Pro, redesigned iMac and Apple external display rumors
  3. Apple Car shifts to reverse, 2021 product rumors, Fitness+ audio workouts
  4. Apple’s 2020 in review
  5. AirPods Max review, Apple TV+ anniversary

Stacktrace Podcast |

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John and Rambo react to the latest Mac and iPhone rumors, design a new feature for AirBuddy, talk about Swift Evolution and not-quite-public language features, and discuss various ways of using frameworks and libraries on Apple’s platforms.

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New iMac, Mac Pro, and external monitor
New MacBook Pros
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  1. 119: “Swift spelunking”
  2. 118: “The real reality is gone”
  3. 117: “The best not-kept secret”
  4. 116: “It wasn’t just a big, long nightmare”, the 2020 Stacktrace retrospective
  5. 115: “Not a trace of a stack”

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Apple @ Work Podcast: Deep learning with Osmo

Apple @ Work

In this episode of the Apple @ Work podcast, Bradley is joined by Pramod Sharma who is CEO of Osmo to talk about the founding of the company, how Osmo promotes deep learning with children, and more.
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  1. Apple @ Work Podcast: Deep learning with Osmo
  2. macOS Big Sur upgrades with Addigy and Ntiva
  3. Apple in the courtroom with David Sparks
  4. Kandji adds a new breed of automation for Apple device management
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