Apple betas offer clues about new hardware coming soon

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iMac 2021
Is this the face of the new iMacs?
Photo: Jon Prosser/FrontPageTech

Apple’s new betas are, by definition, a glimpse at the future when it comes to Apple’s upcoming releases — and the latest crop is no different. From new iMacs to a possible controller redesign for Apple TV, here are some of the hardware breadcrumbs they drop about future Apple plans.

New iMacs

This is the year that the iMac gets its first big redesign since 2012, alongside being the first Apple Silicon iMac. As noted by 9to5Mac, the macOS Big Sur 11.3 beta 5 contains references to new iMac models. There are two codes mentioned: iMac21,1 and iMac21,2. (The numbers don’t correspond to the size of the display.) These are the same J456 and J457 codenames mentioned in a previous Bloomberg report. Expect them to refer to two different display size models.

The new Macs are rumored to include a redesigned, Pro Display XDR-style screen. There could also be multiple color options, and a next-gen M-series chip.

A14x chip for the next iPad Pro

Also discovered in Apple’s beta code, this time for iOS 14.5, is a reference to a “13G” chip. This does not correspond to previous naming associated with Apple chips, suggesting that it the codename for something new: specifically a variant of the A14 Bionic.

This A14X SoC is likely to be set for the next iPad Pro. According to a recent Bloomberg report, the next-gen iPad Pro will boast an “updated processor that is on par with the faster M1 chip.”

9to5Mac surmises that it is likely that this means a new iPad Pro is on the way soon. After all, if it wasn’t, Apple may just hold off on baking it into iOS until iOS 15/iPadOS 15 in the second half of 2021.

Changes for Apple TV

Beta 5 of tvOS 14.5 gives users the ability to play games on Apple TV using the new PlayStation 5 DualSense and Xbox Series X controllers. The plan to make the Apple TV a hub for gaming has never quite played out as some hoped. (That could change with the next-gen Apple TV.) Nonetheless, the chance to play games with the latest console controllers is a winner.

That’s not the biggest control-related change, either. As noted by MacRumors, the fifth beta also switches mentions of “Siri Remote” for “Apple TV Remote.” Exactly what that means isn’t totally clear. But given that the Siri Remote is not exactly beloved by many fans, that could suggest Apple’s got some changes in store for Apple TV in the near future.

In conclusion: What does it all mean?

Beta versions of Apple software releases is no guarantee about the future, of course — or, at least, not the immediate future. References to location-tracking AirTags, for example, have been found in code for ages. But Apple still has yet to officially announce them. Details can change between betas. In other cases, tidbits found in betas simply confirm reports that were pretty well known, such as new iMacs on the way. Nonetheless, all of the information here is enough to get people (cautiously) excited.

Have you found any interesting details in the new beta versions? Which looming features are you most excited about? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.