Updated 10/07/21: The iPhone 13 and new iPads are out now and the Apple Watch Series 7 is on the way. Apple still may have some products to announce this year, including new MacBook Pros with Apple Silicon and possibly new AirPods as well.
Apple doesn’t often participate in big industry-wide events like CES or E3. The most valuable company in the world holds its own events, thank you very much. Several times a year, Apple invites the press and industry professionals out to a theater to hear all about its latest products and services. Apple calls these “Special Events,” and streams them online to its millions of fans.
There’s also WWDC, Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference, a multi-day event in the middle of the year focused on sessions for developers, helping them make the most out of the latest Apple tools and products. It kicks off with a big keynote that serves to announce new products (typically the latest versions of iOS and macOS, as well as a few hardware products).
Apple still has a few products left to unveil in 2021, so expect the fall to be pretty exciting.
Here’s a list of the events we expect Apple to hold in the remainder of 2021, and what we expect the company to announce at each one. We’ll update this list throughout the year as we get a clearer picture of when Apple will take the stage and what it will announce.
October or November: MacBook Pro, Mac mini, AirPods
Apple regularly hosts events in late October or early November to round out the year with a few last-minute product releases. These are often new iPads or Macs—last year’s event saw the release of the M1 MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, and Mac mini—but there’s no reason Apple couldn’t announce something crazy like AR glasses at its own event later in the year. (We don’t expect Apple to announce AR glasses this year, but you never know.)
In 2020, the “October” event was virtual and delayed a month to November, just as the “September” event was. It introduced the wonderful M1-based Macs. It’s too early to know whether Apple will have an event in October this year, but with so many products on the way, it seems likely. Our best guess is that Apple will hold an event in October or November where it will introduce the new MacBook Pros with the M1X or M2 processor, a new design, and several new features. We’ve also heard rumors of a new high-end Mac mini with the same M1X processor arriving in late 2021.
Apple is also rumored to announce new AirPods, changing the design for the first time since they were introduced in 2016. We’ve heard that these “AirPods 3” (as people often call them) are on the verge of release many times before, so don’t be shocked if it doesn’t happen again.
Throughout the year, Apple holds online virtual developer events meant to help developers make the best use of Apple’s products, software, and ecosystem. Examples from early in the year include “Building Great Widget Experiences,” “Bring Your iPad App to Mac,” and “Building Great App Clip Experiences.”
Apple doesn’t announce products (hardware nor software) at these events, and there’s no need to focus on them if you’re not a registered Apple developer producing software for Apple products. It’s always interesting to see what areas Apple feels it needs to bolster, however. In this case, it seems the company doesn’t see as much use of Widgets, App Clips, and Catalyst as it would like.
Awards and honors
Apple has given out app awards for years, but 2019 was the first time there was an actual ceremony for such. The Best of 2019 app awards were held at a small December event in New York, with mostly the nominated developers and some press in attendance. It was not streamed online.
Also for the first time in 2019, Apple held an awards ceremony for Apple Music. There was a live-streamed performance by Artist of the Year Billie Elish as part of it, the event as a whole was kept mostly to the music industry. In 2020, these events were canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Awards were still given, but there was no event. This year, Apple will certainly honor app developers and musicians with awards, but it’s too early to know if there will be an event around it or not.
I have written professionally about technology for my entire adult professional life – over 20 years. I like to figure out how complicated technology works and explain it in a way anyone can understand.