This week’s top stories: New MacBook Air rumors, Apple’s plans for a VR headset, and more

In this week’s top stories: iOS 14.4 beta testing continues, rumors of a “higher-end” MacBook Air emerge, Apple VR headset coming in 2022, and much more. Read on for all of this week’s top Apple Stories.

Apple Watch Challenge

Apple’s next Apple Watch Activity Challenge has officially been scheduled. The first-ever “Unity Challenge” will be held from February 1 through February 28, and it encourages Apple Watch users to celebrate Black History Month by closing their Move ring seven days in a row.

As such, Apple has also added a new “Unity” watch face to the Apple Watch. The new watch face is currently available to beta testers as part of watchOS 7.3, and will be released to everyone soon.

Apple VR headset

Bloomberg reported this week that Apple’s first headset will primarily be a VR device, with limited AR capabilities. The headset will reportedly be a pricey, niche precursor to a more ambitious augmented reality product that will take longer to develop.

As a mostly virtual reality device, it will display an all-encompassing 3D digital environment for gaming, watching video and communicating. With premium features and performance, Apple’s first headset will be far more expensive than those from rivals, which cost about $300 to $900.

Apple has planned to launch the product as soon as 2022, but development delays have plagued the work on the headset so far, and more delays are not of the question.

AirPods Max

AirPods Max debuted in December, marking Apple’s premium entry into the over-ear headphones industry. The AirPods Max that were ultimately released, however, were different from what was rumored, and ultimately less customizable.

The expectations were that Apple would let users customize their headphones with a modular design. For example, you could attach the mesh headband for exercising, then switch to the leather material for added comfort design while indoors.

9to5Mac has discovered that iOS devices can see what “headband type” AirPods Max are using. That could be used to do things like correctly display AirPods Max in the UI. For example, iOS 14 would be able to tell if you were using the mesh headband with your AirPods Pro or if you were using the leather headband, and display the proper graphics.

iFixit also found that the AirPods Max headband can be easily removed with a paper clip.

Ultimately, while Apple hasn’t acknowledged this or launched any alternate headbands, it’s possible they could arrive in the future. It could also be that Apple has officially abandoned its plans to launch alternative headbands completely, and that these are just left over remnants of the initial idea.

New MacBook Air

Finally, Apple is reportedly preparing a “higher end” MacBook Air. The machine will reportedly be even thinner and lighter than the current MacBook Air, and include next-generation Apple Silicon inside.

In terms of design, Apple is reportedly shrinking the bezels around the screen to make it even smaller while still retaining 13-inches of screen real estate.

What’s important to note as well is that this new MacBook Air would be a higher-end option, complementing the existing entry-level MacBook Air. So it essentially sounds like we’d have a MacBook Air and a MacBook Air Pro. The new model will launch during second half of this year at the earliest or in 2022.

These and the rest of this week’s top stories below.

iPhone |

Apple Watch |

Mac and iPad |

Top Apple stories, retail |

AirPods |

Apps |

Apple TV |

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Jeff Benjamin joins Zac Hall to give Apple Watch Series 3 and Series 5 an exit interview before new models are announced. 9to5Mac Watch Time is a podcast series hosted by Zac Hall. In this series, we talk to real people about how Apple Watch is affecting their lives.

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