Apple generates a lot of news, and it can be hard to keep up. If your mind was on other things this week, our roundup of Apple-related headlines will bring you up to date.

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Farewell, Touch Bar?

Uproar this week in Mac land, where multiple reports point to an imminent and radical redesign of the MacBook Pro.

Bizarrely, those reports claim the new Pro will take its lead in many respects from the late-2020 iPhones, with a square-edged chassis and the return of MagSafe among the highlights. But the most divisive change may be the disappearance of the Touch Bar - loved by a few, hated by some, ignored by many - to be replaced by physical function keys.

MacBook Pro 2019: Touch Bar

There will also be more ports, which we imagine will be good news for nearly everyone. Catch up on all the rumours in our MacBook Pro news hub.

Hyundai another day

The iCar (or, more realistically, Apple Car) has been much in our thoughts lately.

Apple may partner with an established car maker for this project, and one name that's popped up a lot lately is Hyundai. That company surprisingly confirmed last week that they had been in negotiations about producing an electric car, but then promptly revised the statement to remove all mention of Apple. Pro tip: it's generally best not to spill the beans on deals like that.

But the rumour won't die. Last Sunday a Reuters report set it off again by claiming that "Hyundai Motor and Apple Inc plan to sign a partnership deal on autonomous electric cars by March and start production around 2024 in the US". That seems pretty definitive to us, but both parties are (currently) playing it cool.

The other possibility is that Apple will simply buy itself a car company and thereby gain the expertise and facilities required for the project. Before Christmas Elon Musk mischievously claimed that Apple once had the opportunity to buy Tesla for a tenth of its current valuation, but Tim Cook declined to even take the meeting; this week we learned that it considered buying electric car startup Canoo in 2020.

Canoo and Hyundai entered a development partnership in February 2020, incidentally. It's a small world.

News in brief

Apple has announced details of the Racial Equity and Justice Initiative to which it committed $100m last summer. Projects include the Propel Center (a learning hub for students from Historically Black Colleges and Universities), a new Apple Developer Academy in Detroit, and a raft of grants and scholarships.

The 'free speech' app Parler, which is popular among those who've been banned from Twitter, was itself banned from the App Store this week after allegations that it was used to plan the attack on the US Capitol.

Panic! macOS 12 is already in testing!

Epic has filed another lawsuit against Apple, this time in a London appeals tribunal. The developer will stop at nothing, it seems, to get Fortnite back on the App Store.

Based on an unexpected error message, it looks like Apple is soon going to prohibit the 'sideloading' of iOS apps on to M1 Macs when that app is not officially available on the Mac App Store.

With WhatsApp losing users by the day, Peter Müller argues that the time has come for iMessage for Android.

Apple's partnership with AMD appears, surprisingly, to be continuing. At CES the latter company's CEO, Dr Lisa Su, spoke warmly about the M1 chip and the opportunities for innovation it could bring.

Apple Studios has agreed to finance Ridley Scott's Napoleon epic, Kitbag. Don't get too excited, though: production isn't expected to begin until 2022.

A 16-year-old has posted a video of Linux running on an iPhone 7. Don't ask why, ask why not.

The late-2020 iPhone models sold really well in China. This may be because 5G is a more mature market over there: more 5G than 4G handsets were sold in China in the most recent sales period.

BMW was the first car maker to make use of Apple's digital car key tech, which allows an iPhone to unlock a vehicle. It has now announced that it will be the first to use the U1 chip in iPhones for the same purpose, which means you won't even need to take the phone out of your pocket.

Bugs & problems

An upcoming macOS Big Sur update will bring a fix for the issue some M1 Macs have experienced connecting to Bluetooth accessories.

Those with a pacemaker or ICD should exercise caution around the iPhone 12 series handsets, as they can be affected by MagSafe. Researchers at the Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit have reported a case in which an iPhone 12 placed directly over the left side of a patient's chest caused his implanted Medtronic defibrillator to stop working.

iPhone owners have reported that music volume sometimes dropped after 15 minutes and in some cases couldn't be turned back up. It's the result of a feature designed to protect users' hearing.

Apple's Big Sur whitelist, which allowed the company's own apps to bypass firewalls and VPNs and was widely considered a security risk, is removed as of beta 2 of macOS 11.2.

The rumour mill

New iPad Pros incoming! CAD images of the new models have leaked online, and suggest Apple plans to keep the design mostly the same as the 2020 version, but with a few millimetres shaved off the height and width (and, possibly, the speakers in a new position).

This April it looks like we'll get a new iPhone SE and some new AirPods Pro. A new iPad mini is on the way, too. (Or not so mini; it's going to get a bigger screen.)

The iPhone 13, we hear, will look just like the iPhone 12 only with a smaller notch. That actually sounds... pretty good?

We've been saying this for a while, admittedly, but it really does look like the AirTags will launch soon. If you enter the text string findmy://items into the Safari URL bar on your iPhone or iPad (assuming it's running iOS 14.3 or iPadOS 14.3) you'll see a secret new tab in the Find My app dedicated to tracking objects such as keys and bicycles.

AirTags launch: Secret tab in Find My app

Following the - let's be honest here - mixed successes of its News+ and TV+ subscription services, and the recent launch of Fitness+, Apple will roll out more 'Plus' services in the coming years, according to a venture capital firm. It suggests that Podcasts+, Stocks+, Mail+, Maps+ and Health+ are all plausible additions to the portfolio.

It's believed that Apple is working on separate Music and Podcasts apps to finally replace iTunes for Windows on the Microsoft Store, with a TV app to follow closely behind.

And that's it for this week. Stay Appley!