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This story is part of Apple Event, our full coverage of the latest news from Apple headquarters.

Watch Apple's 'Spring Loaded' reveal event with CNET live

Spring has well and truly sprung. The Apple Store is down in advance of the company’s “Spring Loaded” event, Apple’s first big launch of 2021, which kicks off at 10 a.m. PT (1 p.m. ET) today. We’re predicting new iPads and iMacs, and the tech giant is expected to offer minor hardware updates for iPads and major software upgrades for iPads and iPhones. Any new iMac computers could be powered by some variant of Apple’s new in-house M1 chips. And if we’re lucky, we might even see the long-rumored AirTags tracking accessories.

CNET’s preshow for the “Spring Loaded” event starts at 9:30 a.m. PT. Join us here to hash over the expectations and the rumors.

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Apple wants to make sure you’re loaded up for the spring.


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Apple’s 10 a.m. PT event will be streamed through the company’s website as part of its all-digital strategy amid the pandemic. The virtual announcement presentations have allowed Apple to stick to its schedule of holding events in the spring, summer and fall. In 2020, as the pandemic took hold, Apple made its Worldwide Developers Conference online-only, with slickly edited videos adding to the typical stage presentation format for its June event. This year’s WWDC, scheduled to start June 7, will also be online-only.

Today’s announcements are rumored to focus on the iPad’s speed and its screen. Apple’s expected to upgrade the chips powering its iPads and to introduce a new screen technology called mini-LED, which display makers say offers improved power efficiency and better brightness. Apple is rumored to be transitioning its MacBook laptops and iMac desktops to the technology sometime later as well. Modern iPhones use OLED screens, which are considered higher quality but typically cost more money to make.

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What we expect from Apple’s 2021 Spring Loaded event



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Alongside the iPads, Apple’s expected to announce its plans to deliver iOS 14.5, a major software update that offers new emoji, ways to unlock a phone with your Apple Watch instead of your face, and big privacy changes. The new software, which will be made available as a free download, will require apps to ask permission in order to use tracking technology that collect information about users across various apps and websites. 

Facebook in particular criticized Apple’s new initiative, called App Tracking Transparency, saying it’ll increase advertising costs. To make its case, Facebook took out ads in the Wall Street Journal, New York Times and Washington Post to argue against the move. Apple’s said it plans to release iOS 14.5 in the coming weeks.

Read more: The iPad is great for art, games and movies. Apple wants it to be more

The tech giant may also offer entirely new products, rumored to be called AirTags. The devices are little trackers you can attach to backpacks, purses, toys or whatever else, so you can locate them using the iPhone’s “Find My” app. Samsung beat Apple to market with its $40 SmartTag devices, announced in January. Other companies make similar devices too, including Tile and TrackR.

When

Apple’s online-only event will be held on April 20 at 10 a.m. PT, 1 p.m. ET, 6 p.m. BST and April 21 at 3 a.m. AEST (Sorry, Australia).

Where

You’ll be able to stream Apple’s event straight from the company’s website.

What we can expect

Apple’s digital events are fast paced and slickly produced. And there are at least one or two jokes thrown in to keep you entertained.

Stay up-to-date on the latest news, reviews and advice on iPhones, iPads, Macs, services and software.

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Digital payments company Square is now offering checking and savings accounts for small-business customers. On Tuesday, the company unveiled Square Banking, a set of tools for collecting payments, managing banking and viewing cash flow all at once.

“When you take payments and bank through Square, everything is connected. Watch your sales flow directly into Square banking, so accessing and moving your money is fast, easy — and can even be automated,” Square said in a press release.

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Square Banking is the latest expansion by the payments company run by Jack Dorsey, who’s also CEO of Twitter. Last week, Dorsey said Square will create a new business focused on the Bitcoin cryptocurrency, to help developers design decentralized financial products.

The new checking and savings accounts join the company’s lending option, now called Square Loans, as well as the Square debit card, which the company launched in 2019 for business customers. 

The new accounts will let businesses access money they bring in through Square payments, without first having to transfer it to a separate bank account. Square said the new banking accounts don’t have a minimum balance and that there aren’t monthly account fees. 

Square’s checking accounts will be provided by Sutton Bank, which also issues the Square debit card. Square said funds are FDIC-insured.

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With employees expected to start returning to the office in September, Apple is reportedly clamping down even future on remote work. Some Apple employees are saying it’s even harder to get remote work approved now that the company is moving forward with its hybrid plan, according to a report Thursday from The Verge

Apple’s corporate culture is well known throughout Silicon Valley as secretive, often requiring employees to be on site. However, there were some exceptions to this and some teams were more lenient about remote work, according to The Verge. But now, some of these previous exceptions are reportedly being denied. 

In June, Apple told employees it expects them to be in the office at least three days a week. Employees reportedly pushed back on this plan, asking CEO Tim Cook for more flexibility. Apple reportedly dismissed the request and told employees that “in-person collaboration is essential to our culture and our future.”

Some Apple employees have said they plan to quit due to the hybrid work policy, reported The Verge, citing messages in a company Slack channel. 

Apple isn’t the only tech company grappling with plans to return to the office following the COVID-19 pandemic. Google, which similarly is asking most employees to be in office three days a week, has frustrated employees with what they say are inflexible and opaque remote work policies. Last month, Facebook extended remote work options to all of its employee, and Twitter has said all employees will have the option to work from home permanently. 

Apple didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. 

Stay up-to-date on the latest news, reviews and advice on iPhones, iPads, Macs, services and software.

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