Apple March 21 Event Confirmed

Apple has today announced their next event will be held on March 21st at their campus in Cupertino, California at 10:00am.

The official invite goes by the tagline ‘Let us loop you in.’

What does it mean?

applemarch2016invite

‘Let us loop you in’ is definitely more of a tricky tagline to decrypt (no Apple/FBI pun intended), but here are the possibilities as to what the invite including the tagline and artwork means:

  • New Apple Watch Bands.
  • Updates to the Apple Watch Hardware (possibly S model even though there’s been no rumours).
  • Updated 9.7inch iPad coming in Space Grey, Silver, Gold and Rose Gold.
  • New 4inch iPhone coming in Space Grey, Silver, Gold and Rose Gold.
  • Loop in users to upgrade their 3.5inch or 4inch iPhone to a new 4inch iPhone.

I know, some of this may be quite a stretch when it comes to what the invite actually means, but its worth a guess.

What will we see:

There are multiple announcements that we are expecting to see explained in depth below, including an updated 9.7inch iPad, iPhone SE, new Apple Watch bands, software updates and potentially Apple discussing their stance in the Apple/FBI case.

iPad Air 3/iPad Pro 9.7inch:

ipad-air-3-plans-ipad-7

iPad Air 2 was released in October 2014 and was not updated last September when the iPad Pro was announced and I think we know why.

The next 9.7inch iPad is very likely going to be a smaller version of the iPad Pro that was announced in September 2014.

If Apple had updated the 9.7inch iPad at the same time as the iPad Pro, it would of detracted sales from the iPad Pro, but that seems to not be the case as it sounds like not many people bought into the larger screen.

As much as I want it to be called the iPad Air 3, I have this feeling it will be called the iPad Pro and go down a similar route to how the MacBook Pro has a 13inch and 15inch lineup but share the same name.

This 9.7inch iPad Pro will have an A9 or A9X Processor, M9 CoProcessor, surround sound speaker setup and support for the Apple Pencil from the 12.9inch model, but also include an updated 12MP camera like on the iPhone 6s but also have a rear camera flash which will be a first on any iPad.

Will we see an updated iPad Mini? I’m guessing not since there have been no rumours and that the updates coming to the 9.7inch model will come to the iPad Mini before Christmas 2016.

The theory I have is that the iPad Pro 12.9inch will get the newest specs first, then the iPad Pro 9.7inch and then the iPad Mini.

iPhone SE:

iphone5se
Leaked image of the then called iPhone 5se. (Left) iPhone 5s and (Right) iPhone SE.

Rumours suggest the next iPhone will be called the iPhone SE for the new 4.0inch model. This is not to be confused with what is rumoured to be the iPhone 7 model coming out later this year.

We are expecting to see a mix of the iPhone 6s and iPhone 5s in this new SE model with the following specs compared to the iPhone 5s including:

  • 4.0inch (1136×640) display.
  • A9 Processor with M9 CoProcessor.
  • Always On Siri.
  • 8 or 12MP camera from iPhone 6 or 6s.
  • Live Photos Support.
  • Apple Pay support.
  • 802.11ac Wi-Fi.
  • Design similar to iPhone 6/s but size of the iPhone 5s with pill shaped buttons and power button on right side.
  • 16/64GB Storage at similar prices to iPhone 5s currently.
  • Available in Space Grey, Silver, Gold and Rose Gold.

Also expect there to be no 3D Touch support as this will be one of the main differentiators besides the larger screens between the iPhone SE and the iPhone 6s/Plus flagship models.

Another thing there have been no rumours about is whether or not the Touch ID sensor will be the upgraded 2nd generation sensor from the iPhone 6s/Plus as it is 2x faster than the Touch ID on the iPhone 5s and iPhone 6/Plus.

If these are all the updates that literally come to the iPhone SE, it can be a compelling upgrade for many people to be able to get the latest specs at the smaller size, but it would not be enough for me to bite the bullet and upgrade.

I think it is smart for Apple to reintroduce the smaller screen as a lot of people still prefer the smaller screen, hence why they probably have not upgraded.

Apple Watch Bands:

space-black-milanese
Apple Watch in Space Grey with Space Grey Milanese Loop Band.

Apple is expected to introduce a Space Grey Milanese Loop Band for the Apple Watch and possibly a NATO-style Apple Watch Band for people that would prefer to have them along.

UPDATE: Also possibly new Sports coloured watchbands available both as stand alone purchases and bundled with an Apple Watch Sport and also a new Hermès Bands through the partnership they have with Apple.

What a lot of people will be asking though is whether or not the 2nd generation Apple Watch will be announced?

Since there have been no rumours, I think Apple is going to want to announce it when they announce the iPhone 7 in September 2016 and release it shortly after. You can tell they wanted to release it when they announced the Apple Watch initially at the iPhone 6 event in September 2014, so I think they’ll release the updates in September from now on and also because it’ll be right before Christmas to help increase sales, like they do with iPhones.

Software Updates:

There are many software updates that are currently in beta including iOS 9.3, OS X 10.11.4, watchOS 2.2 and tvOS 9.2.

These are all on their 6th beta release currently and most beta release do not go beyond 6 and the event will be less than a fortnight from when the last betas were released.

The main features coming in each update includes:

iOS 9.3:

  • Night Shift Mode = Removes blue colour from screen to make it easier on the eyes and easier to sleep at night. App called f.lux for OS X that does the same thing (started using it recently and it’s great).
  • Touch ID to get into specific notes that are password protected.
  • New CarPlay features including New and For You from Apple Music and Nearby feature in Maps.
  • Expanded 3D Touch options for Apple default apps.
  • Verizon iPhones gain Wi-Fi Calling (in U.S.A.)
  • Apple News app enhancements.
  • Apple Music doesn’t require songs added to playlists to be added to My Music.
  • Ability to pair and sync multiple Apple Watches to a single iPhone.
  • Health app makes it easier to add 3rd party apps to track specific data.
  • Improved multi-user support for iPads used in education environments (needs to be for public use as well in iOS 10).

OS X 10.11.4:

  • Live Photos support in Messages.
  • Ability to password protect notes in the Notes app.
  • Import Notes from Evernote.
  • Bug Fixes and performance improvements.

watchOS 2.2:

  • Ability to pair and sync multiple Apple Watches to a single iPhone.
  • Revamped look for the built-in Maps app, inc. Nearby feature and buttons to get to home and work.

tvOS 9.2:

  • Addition of Podcasts app.
  • Bluetooth keyboard support.
  • Updated app switcher to look like iOS 9 with overlapping screens.
  • Folders support on the home screen.
  • Voice Dictation support for text fields (instead of poorly designed single row on-screen keyboard).
  • iCloud Photo Library support.
  • Search the App Store with Siri.
  • Regains the conference room mode feature from Apple TV 2nd and 3rd gen.
  • Improved scrubbing through videos with the Siri Remote.

UPDATE: Forgot to mention that Eddy Cue said on a podcast recently that there are updates for iTunes for OS X in the works, which could mean a minor update coming on the 21st of March or unveiling an entirely new version of iTunes being iTunes 13. A lot of the focus of this update is believed to be improving integration for Apple Music subscribers in terms of navigation and managing library etc.

Apple/FBI Case:

I think it is also obvious that Apple will raise the case (even if it’s breath) about the case that is going on with the FBI to show that they really do care about user’s privacy and security as it is one of the core values of Apple business model.

I respect both sides of the argument, but I agree with Apple’s stance on the issue mainly because if they are forced to create a backdoor, no matter what happens, that software can potentially be leak via the internet, then hackers can download the software and steal people’s phones etc. to get sensitive information.

I don’t see this case ending anytime soon and I honestly believe we would still not be talking about this if the FBI had not changed the Apple ID password, which broke the ability to sync a backup to iCloud via a known network (e.g. the San Bernardino shooters home).

Event Details:

  • Western Australia = 1:00am March 22nd.
  • Queensland = 3:00am March 22nd.
  • South Australia = 3:30am March 22nd.
  • New South Wales, Tasmania and Victoria = 4:00am March 22nd.

The event is also expected to go for 2 hours, as per the calendar notification you can setup from Apple’s website to your iCal calendar.

UPDATE: Apple is opening its largest retail store in Dalian, China at the spectacular-looking Olympia 66 shopping mall on Saturday just 2 days before Apple’s keynote where you can check out the details at the linked article in the references section below.

We will also get an idea before the keynote starts as to how major the announcements will be if they do live updates and highlight people’s tweets, like what they first introduced at the iPhone 6 and Apple Watch announcement keynote.

I am anticipating the structure for the keynote will be as follows:

  • Opening video based on the opening of the Olympia 66 Apple Store.
  • Tim Cook giving his brief stance on the FBI case.
  • Tim Cook giving general updates (possibly if not pushed for time).
  • Craig Federighi explaining the updates to iOS 9.3, watchOS 2.2, tvOS 9.2 and OS X 10.11.4 and announcing the release dates.
  • Slight possibility that they will announce iOS 9.4 or any new upcoming software updates or even updates to Apple Music which could be done by Eddy Cue.
  • Phil Schiller announcing the 9.7inch iPad Pro.
  • Phil Schiller announcing the iPhone SE.
  • Close the keynote.

So I am expecting a similar type of keynote compared to the October 2014 keynote held at Apple’s campus in Cupertino which was where the iPad Air 2 and iMac with 5K Display was announced.

Conclusion:

I honestly feel underwhelmed when it comes to looking forward to this new keynote.

The iPhone update is for a small iPhone, the 9.7inch iPad will be a decent update and Apple Watch bands is just meh.

I always get this feeling every-time Apple has an event that they hold at their Cupertino campus, as these include the iPhone 4s, iPhone 5s and iPad Air 2 being announced at separate events there and many of them were not major upgrades (but yes I got the iPhone 5s as it was my first smartphone).

So this leaves me to the question for this post:

“What are you looking forward to most from the event and what would you like to see a surprise during the keynote?”

For me, I’d be interested to hear about the 9.7inch iPad update but what I would want to see as a surprise, is a sneak peek at either iOS 10 (because of new Android N beta release) or OS X 10.12, even if it is one or two major features and rest announced at WWDC 2016, or even an updated Apple TV with 4K support and new processor, or updated Apple Watch hardware.

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References:

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