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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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This week’s top videos |

9to5Mac Daily |

Listen to a recap of the top stories of the day from 9to5Mac. 9to5Mac Daily is available on iTunes and Apple’s Podcasts app, Stitcher, TuneIn, Google Play, or through our dedicated RSS feed for Overcast and other podcast players.

Reality Pro delays (yes, again), MacBook Air rumors 9to5Mac Daily

Listen to a recap of the top stories of the day from 9to5Mac. 9to5Mac Daily is available on iTunes and Apple’s Podcasts app, Stitcher, TuneIn, Google Play, or through our dedicated RSS feed for Overcast and other podcast players. Enjoy the podcast? Shop Apple at Amazon New episodes of 9to5Mac Daily are recorded every weekday. Subscribe to our podcast in Apple Podcast or your favorite podcast player to guarantee new episodes are delivered as soon as they’re available. Stories discussed in this episode: Netflix's ad-supported tier finally works with Apple TV set-top box Apple focused on OLED iPads for now, but an updated MacBook Air is still in the works OLED MacBook Air in development; MacBook Pro with better tech Kuo: Mass production for Apple AR/VR headset delayed to late Q3 Follow Chance: Twitter: @ChanceHMiller Mastodon: Listen & Subscribe: Apple Podcasts Overcast RSS Spotify TuneIn Google Podcasts Catch up on 9to5Mac Daily episodes! Don’t miss out on our other daily podcasts: Quick Charge 9to5Toys Daily The Buzz Share your thoughts! Drop us a line at You can also rate us in Apple Podcasts or recommend us in Overcast to help more people discover the show.
  1. Reality Pro delays (yes, again), MacBook Air rumors
  2. WWDC23 details announced, iOS 17 rumors
  3. Apple Music Classical and Apple Pay Later
  4. iOS 16.4 now available and much more
  5. Apple cracks down on remote work, more

9to5Mac Watch Time |

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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This week on Watch Time join 9to5Mac's Zac Hall and Tempo developer Rahul Matta in the final episode of this podcast "season". 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. Subscribe now to catch up with each episode and automatically hear new episodes as soon as they’re released every two weeks: 🟣 Apple Podcasts | 🟠 Overcast | 🟢 Spotify Follow Zac Instagram @apollozac Twitter @apollozac Follow Rahul Matta Twitter @rmatta Twitter @TempoLog Blog Follow 9to5Mac Instagram @9to5mac Twitter @9to5mac Facebook Listen & Subscribe Apple Podcasts Spotify Overcast RSS Read More Toning down the Apple Watch: Tips and feature requests to avoid being overwhelmed Apple releases watchOS 7.4.1 with security improvements Apple Watch blood sugar and blood pressure measurement could be a step closer watchOS 7.4 brings iPhone mask unlock feature for Apple Watch Enjoy the podcast? Shop Apple at Amazon to support 9to5Mac Watch Time!
  1. Week 6
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iPhone 15 action button, WWDC 2023 announced, Apple Music Classical launches 9to5Mac Happy Hour

Benjamin and Zac react to the rumors that the iPhone 15 Pro mute-switch button may actually be a customizable action button a la Apple Watch Ultra. Apple Pay Later is now available for a select random few. The strategically-confusing Apple Music Classical app is released, and WWDC 2023 is official! Sponsored by Fast Growing Trees: Join 1.5 million happy customers and save 15% off your perfect plants, shrubs, and trees! Sponsored by Mkeke: Since 2015 Mkeke has been a top iPhone case brand specializing in designing exquisite, diverse and comfortable iPhone cases. Follow Zac Hall @apollozac or Benjamin Mayo @bzamayo or Read More Apple Pay Later launching today: Here's how it works WWDC 2023 confirmed: iOS 17, Reality Pro headset, more iPhone 15 to integrate proximity sensor into the Dynamic Island, could lead to improved Face ID iPhone 15 Action button in testing; new super-low energy mode Apple Music Classical video tour; listen on Mac or iPad; more Subscribe or Follow Apple Podcasts Overcast Spotify
  1. iPhone 15 action button, WWDC 2023 announced, Apple Music Classical launches
  2. iOS 16.4 features, SiriGPT, Apple TV+ theatrical ambitions
  3. HomePod with screen rumored, Apple exec turnover, AR/VR headset market fit
  4. Apple Music Classical announced, iPhone 15 mute switch, M3 Mac schedule
  5. iOS 16.4 beta 2, 2018 iPad Pro in hindsight, MLS Season Pass experience

Stacktrace Podcast |

Stacktrace by 9to5Mac is available on iTunes and Apple’s Podcasts app or through our dedicated RSS feed for Overcast and other podcast players.

Stacktrace has moved! Stacktrace

As we've mentioned in the last episode, the Stacktrace podcast is no longer a part of the 9to5Mac network. If you're seeing this entry in your podcast player, then you probably need to unfollow Stacktrace and follow the podcast again. Start by unfollowing the show in your podcast player, then just search for "Stacktrace" and follow the show again. You'll notice that the updated show has a new artwork and that episode 179 has already been released there. To learn more about how to listen to Stacktrace, check out our new website. Thanks for listening!
  1. Stacktrace has moved!
  2. 178: “Let’s try something new”
  3. 177: “The stand is included!”
  4. 176: “Extra Keynote Poker”
  5. 175: “A Bluetooth fanboy”

Apple @ Work Podcast |

Apple @ Work by 9to5Mac is available on Apple Podcasts, Overcast, Spotify, and via RSS for other podcast players.

Healthcare challenges with Apple devices Apple @ Work

Apple @ Work is brought to you by Mosyle, the only Apple Unified Platform. Mosyle is the only solution that fully integrates 5 different applications on a single Apple-only platform, allowing Businesses to easily and automatically deploy, manage & protect all their Apple devices. Over 38,000 organizations leverage Mosyle solutions to automate the deployment,  management, and security of millions of Apple devices daily. Request a FREE account today and discover how you can put your Apple fleet on auto-pilot at a price point that is hard to believe. In this episode of Apple @ Work, I talk with Rachana Vijayan from Hexnode about the challenges of managing devices in a healthcare environment. Links: American Express Business Blueprint for iPhone American Express Business Blueprint for Android Connect with Bradley Nostr Twitter LinkedIn Listen and subscribe Apple Podcasts Overcast Spotify Pocket Casts Castro RSS Listen to Past Episodes
  1. Healthcare challenges with Apple devices
  2. Business banking made digital with American Express
  3. Cisco and Apple – better together
  4. What are the latest K-12 IT trends?
  5. Where did the name Meeting Owl come from?

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Avatar for Chance Miller Chance Miller

Chance is an editor for the entire 9to5 network and covers the latest Apple news for 9to5Mac.

Tips, questions, typos to