Several times a year, Apple holds a special press event to announce a batch of new products; most recently the company announced the first Apple Silicon Macs on 10 November 2020. But when will the next Apple event take place - and by extension, when can we expect the newest products to launch?
In this article we look ahead to the likely dates (and product focus) of the next Apple events, starting with the spring keynote for in March 2021. Although some suspect that the company may still have something up its sleeve for Christmas...
When is Apple's next event?
We expect the next Apple event on 16 March 2021.
Bear in mind that it will be some time before we know for sure: the company usually sends out event invitations about a week before. But that doesn't stop leakers from sharing information about potential dates and Apple industry experts from making educated guesses.
The date of 16 March 2021 is based on a prediction made by leaker Jon Prosser:
Okay, how about “One More Thing” ?
After this November ARM Mac event, the next Apple Event (currently a digital event) will happen on Tuesday, March 16, 2021 🗓October 16, 2020
Apple's Christmas present
The smart money is on March 2021, but there's been a hint from a usually reliable leaker that Apple has something planned for Christmas.
Twitter rumourmonger L0vetodream has posted cryptically that "You'll get a Christmas surprise from Apple", which many have taken to indicate an astonishing fourth event in as many months. We're not convinced, for multiple reasons.
First is that Apple taglined its November event One More Thing, and the company would look pretty silly having to announce Yet Another Thing or I Just Remembered Something Else.
Another is that L0vetodream really did keep things vague on this 'prediction', and promptly walked it back in a follow-up tweet. "I did not mention what exactly is the 'Christmas gift', and the date," they pointed out. "This is just a game..."
Without wishing to be overly cynical or critical, it smacks of the sort of deliberately vague, difficult-to-disprove tweet that leakers sometimes post to get attention. If there's an event, L0vetodream looks like a genius. If there's just a minor product released via press release, that still technically counts. And if Apple keeps completely silent until 2021, well, it's just a game.
Theories about what would count as a Christmas surprise have varied widely, and while we could hear about the AirPods Studio - which, being over-ear headphones, are we suppose quite well suited to the colder months of the year - it's just as likely that the surprise is a marketing campaign or promotion.
So no, we don't think a fourth event is about to be announced.
Will Apple hold a spring 2021 event?
Prosser expects a spring 2021 event, but does that mean Apple will definitely have one? It's a reasonable question - Apple doesn't always hold an event in the spring. But then again, some of the company's most significant announcements have been made at spring events over the years.
Apple held an event called Spring Forward on 9 March 2015, where it announced pricing and the launch date for the original Apple Watch and unveiled the 12in MacBook. Then on 21 March 2016, at the Let Us Loop You In event, we got the iPhone SE, the iPad Pro 9.7 and iOS 9.3.
Spring 2017 was a bit of a disappointment for Apple followers: instead of a full-blown event the company quietly closed down its online store then sent out a press release announcing the launch of the iPad 2017 and the red iPhone 7.
Then in 2018 Apple held an education-focused event on 27 March at a school in Chicago. The company made a series of announcements including a new iPad (with support for Apple Pencil), updates to Pages, Numbers and Keynote, and GarageBand. As well as talking at length about what it can do for teachers and students.
In 2019 there was an Apple Special Event where Apple showed off some of the content planned for its Apple TV+ subscription package, which launched later that year.
There was no event in 2020, but the launch of the iPhone SE may well have been unveiled at an event if it wasn't for the threat of COVID.
So an event is not only likely, based on Apple's love of announcing products in the spring, but according to leaker Jon Prosser, it's going to happen.
The next question is this: what will Apple announce?
What will Apple launch at the next event?
Here's what we expect to see in spring 2021, whether Apple holds an event or not:
Prosser suggests in his tweet above that the event headliner will be AirPods Studio.
In fact Apple is said to be planning to introduce more than one new set of headphones, so we could also see the rumoured AirPods Lite.
These new headphones were expected to launch in 2020 but since they haven't arrived yet a spring 2020 launch looks likely.
Analyst Ming Chi Kuo is predicting a spring launch for the iPad Pro.The new iPad Pro is said to feature a new mini-LED backlit display which will make the screen better than ever.
Read more here: iPad Pro 2021
Now that Apple has its TV+ subscription service, how about a smaller, cheaper Apple TV to go with it? If Apple wants to reach the masses with its service, a dongle that will let them stream Apple's new content to their TV sets could be an essential part of the equation.
There are reports that the company is ready to launch updated Apple TV hardware, but with no sign of it in 2020 early 2021 looks likely.
We look at the rumours about the new Apple TV in a separate article.
AirTag object tracker
This is another new Apple product that has been rumoured for some time.
Graphical assets discovered in internal betas of iOS 13 strongly suggest that Apple is going to launch some kind of object tracker in the near future. This small disc or sticker will be applicable to keys, wallets and other important items, and will then be trackable in the revamped Find My app (which combines the old Find My iPhone and Find My Friends apps).
We examine these rumours in another news hub: Apple AirTag release date, design & specs.
New iMac - with a new design!
The iMac has looked the same for around a decade, change is well overdue and 2020 might be the year we finally see it! Rumours suggest the 21.5in model will get a larger 24in screen, and Face ID is even rumoured.
It will also get a new Apple Silicon processor - likely to come to the smaller iMac before it arrives on the 27in model.
Apple's made clear its interest in augmented reality, and we may hear more about Apple's plans to make Apple AR glasses in March 2021!
The rumours have long suggested we won't see Apple's AR product until 2021 or 2022. Hopefully it will be the earlier of the two.
Of course that won't mean Apple is done for the year. Here's what to expect after the spring 2021 event.
When does Apple usually hold events?
Throughout the year there are normally up to four Apple events at which the company unveils its latest products in front of a large crowd.
Apple doesn't require an event to launch new products though. Throughout the COVID pandemic Apple has continued to launch updated Macs, iPhones and iPads.
But Apple does tend to hold events - they are after all a great way to grab everyone's attention and also communicate their messaging effectively.
In a normal year, Apple generally holds a number of events: one in the spring, one in the summer, one in September and one in October. Some years there will be no spring event and other years Apple will skip the October event, like it did in 2019. Obviously 2020 was a little different to usual, and 2021 may also be, but normally we'd expect a line up something like this:
- March, or spring (education and creativity themes, often includes iPads)
- June (WWDC - mostly software, sometimes high-end/pro hardware)
- September (iPhones and Apple Watches)
- October (iPads and sometimes consumer-focused Macs)
So we can make some predictions about the other events in 2021...
It's a long way away, but what about 2021's WWDC? This will happen in June.
Here's what Apple has announced at WWDC in the past:
- At WWDC 2020 Apple told us about iOS 14 and macOS 11 Big Sur. It also announced the transition from Intel to its own Apple Silicon processors.
- At WWDC 2019 Apple told us about iOS 13 and macOS Catalina. It also unveiled the new Mac Pro and new display.
- At WWDC 2018 we learned about iOS 12 and macOS Mojave. There were no hardware updates at that event.
- At WWDC 2017 we heard about iOS 11 and macOS 10.13 High Sierra. We also got our first look at the new iMac Pro which was previewed alongside the launch of new iMacs and an updated MacBook Pro and MacBook.
It doesn't take a genius, then, to predict that WWDC 2021 will feature updates to Apple's operating systems (iOS 15, macOS 12 (?), tvOS, watchOS, and so on) but it may also include the appearance of other hardware - and we wouldn't be at all surprised to see a number of Apple Silicon Macs.
Who knows what next autumn could bring, but if you want to pencil in a potential date, if 2021 is a normal year, unlike 2020 you might be able to predict event dates from the following dates.
Apple's previous September events took place on:
- 2020: Tuesday 15 September
- 2019: Tuesday 10 September
- 2018: Wednesday 12 September
- 2017: Tuesday 12 September
- 2016: Wednesday 7 September
- 2015: Wednesday 9 September
- 2014: Tuesday 9 September
- 2013: Tuesday 10 September
- 2012: Wednesday 12 September
The October events of the past have (or haven't) taken place on these dates:
- 2020: Tuesday 13 October
- 2019: no October event
- 2018: Tuesday 30 October
- 2017: no October event
- 2016: Thursday 27 October
- 2015: no October event
- 2014: Thursday 16 October
- 2013: Tuesday 22 October
- 2012: Tuesday 23 October
- 2011: Tuesday 4 October