This week on The Wrap, what’s changing on the iPad, the iMac, the Apple TV, and what’s an AirTag? Plus we’ll review Oppo’s big new Find X3 Pro and more, all in five.
It’s nearly the end of April 2021, and you’re listening to The Wrap, Australia’s fastest technology round up, and we start the show off with something that started the week off, with a bit of success.
You may have heard that we’re exploring Mars, thanks to NASA’s Perseverance rover, which landed back in February. This week, NASA managed a first by flying a helicopter on another planet. It didn’t do it directly, because there’s too much distance between Mars and the Earth, but NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory built algorithms to let the Ingenuity helicopter fly by itself in a test, and it’s the start of exploring Mars by the sky.
That was a great start to the week, which turned out to be pretty jam packed with new technology, so let’s get stuck in, starting with Apple, which announced a few new things this week.
For starters, there are new iPads coming in the iPad Pro. This year’s iPad Pro has the option of 5G and will come with the Apple M1 Silicon chip used in the MacBook Air and Pro, boasting upgrades to performance overall. It’s not just a new chipset that makes the iPad Pros shine, because the 12.9 inch model — the big one — gets a Mini LED screen, a new type of tech that controls the screen better, and is coming to TVs this year, too.
Alongside the new iPad Pros, Apple has a new iMac, and that gets that new M1 chip, as well. It’s a super thin iMac that looks more like a screen than a computer, but it comes in colours and is reminiscent of the style of the first iMac, if you’re old enough to remember those.
There’s also a new Apple TV 4K on the way with a modest chip update and support for faster movie frame rates, but perhaps the more interesting change will allow you to use an iPhone to calibrate the colour on your TV. That could mean that any TV — a good TV or even a bad TV — might look better very, very shortly.
And Apple has a new gadget on the way in the AirTag, which is a small button-sized disc that you can attach to things — bags, luggage, maybe your cat or dog — and then be able to track it if you lose it. The AirTag idea isn’t entirely new, and is more or less the same as the Tile tracker, which has been around for some time.
Essentially, small Bluetooth trackers ping phones around the place without them knowing, and tell a big network where things are. For Tile to work, it uses people who use its trackers and have the app. For Apple, it’ll be anyone with an iPhone 11 or iPhone 12 ranged phone. That’s a lot of people, for sure, and means tracking will be pretty easy for pretty much everyone.
There’s no word on whether Android owners will be supported — our guess is no — but you’ll find AirTags in stores next week from around $50 locally.
And the rest of Apple’s stuff will be coming later, set to launch from the middle of May onwards.
Apple’s news was clearly the biggest of the week, but it wasn’t alone. Other things happened that week, such as how Fitbit is planning to release a new activity tracker, the more fashion-focused Luxe, which is designed like jewelry, but lacks a GPS and support for mobile payments like its Charge 4, which has both.
Or how a new type of digital piggy bank dropped in, as Penny the Pig — yes, that’s what it’s called — offered a screen inside of a piggy bank that could track cryptocurrency wallets for bitcoin. We’re not sure how many kids are using bitcoin, but if they are, this is a real gadget on the way out.
And we’re also checking a new phone, as we play with the Oppo Find X3 Pro, the latest flagship phone from Oppo, and basically the second major Android phone of the year, following the Samsung S21 Ultra.
Oppo’s X3 Pro is a similarly big phone, with a 6.7 inch screen, a fast Snapdragon chip, 12 gigs of ram, and 256 gigs of storage. It’s a high-end phone, and there’s no surprise why, even if it has half the storage of last year’s flagship for a hundred bucks more.
We can look past that, and it’s helped by having a lovely phone design, with a slick camera bump that sort of morphs into the glass body.
The camera setup is interesting, but kind of feels like a bit of a backstep. Last year, it offered wide, standard, and close, with some nice macro. This year, the X3 Pro is much the same, but with a microscope to let you get super close. It’s a cute touch, but ultimately a gimmick, and not one that we think we’d keep using.
Oppo nails almost everything else, though, offering 5G, wireless charging, water resistance, and an acceptable battery, though we’d like more than the 30-odd hours we could get out of it.
All up, the Oppo Find X3 Pro is a nice phone, and competes well against the Samsung S21 Ultra, but we’re hoping to find an Android phone that hits it out of the park, because right now, this isn’t it, and that’s all happening in the mid-range, it seems.
For now, you’ve been listening to The Wrap, Australia’s fastest technology roundup. A new episode can be found every week at Listnr, Spotify, and Apple Podcasts. Otherwise, have a great week, and we’ll see you next time on The Wrap, and take care.