Apple’s ‘Spring Loaded’ event happens April 20: Here’s what to expect

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Apple Spring Loaded event on April 20.
Cue the 4/20 jokes.
Photo: Apple

The next Apple product-release event will happen April 20. Invites went out Tuesday morning for the virtual “Spring Loaded” event, just hours after Siri leaked the date.

Naturally, Apple didn’t announce what’s on the agenda. But rumors point to multiple new iPads, as well as the possibility of next-gen AirPods, a faster Apple TV and the long-awaited debut of AirTags item trackers.

Apple ‘Spring Loaded’ event on April 20

Greg Joswiak, Apple’s senior vice president of worldwide marketing, hyped the event on Twitter. He posted an animated image that showed colorful, springlike swirls dancing around the inside of Apple’s circular headquarters.

“So excited for this one!” Joswiak wrote. Only seven more days.”

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Apple turned virtual events into an art form. The company followed up its successful online-only Worldwide Developers Conference last summer with a string of slickly produced virtual product launches in the fall.

So, what’s on the agenda for the next event, which will stream live on Apple’s website, in the Apple Events app and on YouTube at 10 a.m. PT on April 20?

iPad Pro with beautiful mini-LED display

The 2021 iPad Pro series could lead off next week’s event. While not expected to be a complete redesign, the upgraded tablet could be Apple’s first with a mini-LED display to improve its visuals. Recent rumors indicated the 12.9-inch iPad Pro will get the upgraded display — but supplies might be constrained due to “poor manufacturing yields.”

A faster A14-series processor remains a safe bet for the next-gen pro tablets. And we could get the first iPad with 5G as an option.

Numerous unconfirmed reports in recent months point to the 2021 iPad Pro being on the docket for Apple’s April event. It’s as confirmed as anything ever gets before the official announcement.

Dramatically redesigned iPad mini

It’s been a long time since the iPad mini was the center of attention, but it could happen at Apple’s April event. That’s because the 2021 edition could be in for dramatic changes. Screen bezels could shrink significantly, supposedly allowing the display to increase to more than 9 inches.

What that will do to the price is unknown. The current 7.4-inch version is Apple’s smallest tablet (obviously) but it costs $70 more than the 10.5-inch iPad.

The current iPad mini debuted in March 2019, so an update is due.

Apple Pencil 3

It’s possible an Apple Pencil 3 will be unveiled, too. This allegedly will be shorter than the current version, though if it will differ in other ways isn’t clear.

Game-oriented Apple TV

The current Apple TV set-top box came out way back in 2017, and there’s pent-up demand for a refresh. Fortunately, unconfirmed reports from 2020 pointed to a new version coming this year.

This might include a faster processor and a focus on gaming. Nearly everything in Apple Arcade can be played on an Apple TV, but the chip in the last model is starting to show its age.

The leaks don’t specify that a new Apple TV will arrive in April. Just sometime in 2021. But those tired of waiting for a replacement are surely impatient.

AirPods 3 bring new features

Second-gen AirPods are expected to be replaced with a new version that adds the touch controls from AirPods Pro. And the overall design reportedly is getting tweaked as well, with smaller stems more like the high-end model. The upgraded “regular” AirPods reportedly will lack advanced features like noise cancellation, though.

AirPods 3 could launch at next week’s event. But trusted Apple prognosticator Ming-Chi Kuo says these won’t arrive before autumn.

Finally, AirTags

Apple could get into a whole new product category with the debut of AirTags. Rumors of these item trackers began circulating in 2019 — and now we might finally see them. AirTags allegedly will be on the docket for next week’s event. The iOS 14.5 betas include the ability to track them, for example.

Supposedly, you’ll be able to attach an AirTag to a keychain or a purse, and an iPhone will easily track down the device if it gets misplaced.

Spring Loaded: How to watch Apple’s April 20 event

As mentioned, the event will stream live on April 20 via all the usual outlets. The free Apple TV app and the company’s website are great options. You also can watch it on YouTube at the link below. Go there now and you can set a reminder so you don’t miss a thing.