Apple held their event on March 21st, 2016 in Apple’s own Cupertino HQ, in its Town Hall Theater that started at 10AM PST apparently for the last time.
Tim Cook hosted a rundown of the updates and new products Apple device owners could expect. Many of the rumors that speculators were looking forward to were shown but a few things remained glaringly omitted.
Let’s take a look at some of the key points of yesterday’s event.
A commitment to privacy.
Before Cook got the event underway, he expressed the support that Apple has received for standing up to the government over privacy issues in light of the San Bernadino shootings. Cook vows to not bow down under pressure from government who wants Apple to create software allowing them access.. Even as Cook is still hopeful for a positive solution with the FBI regarding their inquiries into accessing Apple’s software, it seems like the Department of Justice may have found their own way in.
Lisa Jackson, former head of the EPA, comes out to discuss how Apple wants to be 100% renewable. Currently 93% of their facilities are on renewable power. In China, Apple has a solar farm that doesn’t disturb yak populations and utilizes solar power. She also explains how 99% of how Apple’s packaging is recyclable or comes from sustainable forests.
She then introduces us to Liam. Liam is a robot designed to deconstruct iOS devices and refurbishes all needed components. For example, the tungsten could become a cutting tool, the silver could be used for solar power and more. So, don’t fret, your iPhone is never ‘trashed’.
Apple Watch (non) news.
For those hoping for an Apple Watch 2 announcement, sorry but you will be disappointed. Nothing was announced about an update to last year’s watch. What was announced wer new watch bands. These included a woven nylon band, a Space Black Milanese loop, and new sport band colors. Also there is a price drop to $299. Sadly there was no news on a Watch OS update or new features. I was hoping to see maybe a few new complications or watch faces.
In my opinion, the price drop was needed as honestly, while the Apple Watch hasn’t set the world ablaze, the price needed to be more competitive. When you look at the rest of the smartwatch industry, you have many other options you can get below the 300 dollar mark and many more customizable features.
Apple TV gets some new updates
Now that March Madness is in full swing, Apple TV users can get the NCAA Live app which allows users to watch 2 games simultaneously. Anybody remember not too long ago when TVs were pushing the Picture in Picture feature? Apple looks like they are trying to bring this back. I won’t be surprised to see this pop up in other viewable live apps. I mean, the 2016 Euros are coming!!
Siri and tvOS are getting a few tweaks as well some of which will allow you to vocally say passwords and user names. Not sure if that is a good idea. On one hand Apple wants to ensure privacy but on the other it wants to let people to voice aloud some of their private info for their devices.
The Apple TV update is available now.
They did nothing but get smaller
The long rumored iPhone SE is introduced. It’s just as powerful as its iPhone 6S counterparts. It also has a front display flash like the 6S as well and also records 4K video. The iPhone SE will have a 12MP camera to boot. If we get lucky the iPhone 7 will get a camera that will be able to take pictures that will now be a quarter as crappy as Android phones.
The 16GB iPhone SE will run $399 and the 64GB will run $499. It launches March 31, 2016 and will be in 100 countries by the end of May.
Along with the introduction of the iPhone SE we learn about the iOS 9.3 improvements that arrived yesterday as well.
One of the big features is Nightshift. Nightshift is a feature that changes the color screen in the evenings. It’s not exactly new as there have been a few versions built into the iOS and Android devices as well. Supposedly, it will make it easier for users to sleep at night. My guess is that it’s an auto dimming app.
A few other improvements to apps in iOS 9.3 included:
- Notes gets password protection
- The Health app will give users apps suggestions
- The News app will curate and add top stories
- Car manufacturers are on board with Carplay and it making music suggestions for users.
- Nearby locations will be integrated with maps and Carplay as well.
Lastly Apple introduces the 9.7” iPad Pro.
It has a True Tone display which measures ambient color temperature and adjusts the screen to match. If the color in the room is cooler or warmer, it matches the ambient light, giving you a more accurate color rendition. Has 4 speakers like its larger counterpart. It runs on an A9X chip with M9 coprocessor. It supports smart keyboard and Smart Pencil. It also supports a proprietary USB card reader…great for photographers who want to edit photos on the fly. According to Apple the pricing will be as follows:
“The 9.7-inch iPad Pro comes in silver, space gray, gold and a new rose gold metallic finish, and starts at $599 (US) for the 32GB with Wi-Fi model and $729 (US) for the 32GB Wi-Fi + Cellular model. Both iPad Pro sizes are available in offerings of 32GB, 128GB and a new 256GB capacity, the highest of any iOS device. The 9.7-inch iPad Pro will be available to order beginning Thursday, March 24, from Apple.com and in retail stores on Thursday March 31st 2016.”
All in all, the event was more about giving consumers news about updates than it was really pushing something new on the market. I am slightly puzzled about the smaller iPhone as it seemed 2 years ago that Apple was running after Android by increasing their phone sizes. The iPhone SE seems to be such a 180 from what they were doing. Although not Apple Watch 2 was announced, as previously mentioned with all other mobile products getting updates, there was nothing significant really said about the Apple Watch. One of the reasons why I switched from an Android Watch to the Apple Watch was so that I could have a device that plays well with my phone. Again, what I do miss with the Android device is the ability to customize nearly every aspect of the watch but what I don’t miss was the horrid battery life that it had and the connectivity issues that were abound because the Bluetooth capabilities did not always work. But Tim, you guys could have given us some more faces!
Lastly, let’s consider the shrunken iPad Pro. Again, it’s nothing earth shattering but the all it does is bring it to a price point where those of us who considered upgrading our tablets could do so without really breaking the bank. Many of us looked at the 12” iPad Pro but scoffed at the price, which is literally the price of a Macbook. I still cannot reconcile paying nearly $1100 dollars for a quarter of a terabyte drive in a tablet. Also, in my opinion a 12” tablet it’s exactly portable anymore. That’s one thing I have always loved about the iPad is that I can toss it in a small bag and go. I am still not 100% sold on the new iPad Pro but within another year or so it may be time to upgrade from my iPad Air.
The next Apple event will be June 13, 2016 which will be the Apple WWDC 2016 Keynote Address. More than likely there will be Macbook refreshes and more announcements regarding new OSes and mobile updates.