Apple’s “Let Us Loop You In” Event Review

Apple has today held an event at their Town Hall at their Cupertino Campus, where they announced updates to their iPhone and iPad range along with software updates and new Apple Watch bands.

This is my official review of the Apple March 2016 “Let Us Loop You In” event and I will go through based on the structure of the keynote.

Updates/Statistics:

The keynote started with a video based on ’40 Years in 40 Seconds’ as a reflection of where Apple has come from. I thought it was very unique and a great reminder of how long they have been around and what they have done over the years.

Throughout the keynote, the following statistics were announced.

  • Apple’s 40th Birthday on April 1st.
  • More than 1 Billion Active Apple Devices.
  • 93% of Apple facilities worldwide run on renewable energy and 100% renewable power in America, China and 21 other countries.
  • All data-centers are powered by renewable energy. Every-time you do a Facetime call, send an iMessage or ask Siri a question, you’ll know you are helping the environment.
  • 99% of packaging comes from paper that is recycled or sustainably managed forests.
  • New Apple Renew program in Stores or send to Apple via a prepaid address label from www.apple.com/recycling.
  • Showed “Liam” robot designed and built in California, helps separate components from iPhones to recover the high quality materials and re-introduce them into the global supply.
  • Largest Parkinson’s disease case with enough results in 24 hours from ResearchKit apps going live.
  • Announced CareKit which is a developer framework to build apps that empower people to take an active role in their care. Open-source and available to developers in April.
  • Apple Watch is the top selling smart watch in the world and No. 1 in Customer Satisfaction.
  • One Third of people that use an Apple Watch change their bands on a regular basis.
  • Apple TV has had its most sales ever (for a single model) after the 4th generation was announced.
  • Siri Content search on Apple TV is expanding to more providers with more added over-time.
  • 5000 Apple TV apps.
  • Over 30 million 4.0inch iPhones sold in 2015.
  • 3 million credit cards signed up to Apple Pay in the first 72hrs in China.
  • iPhone SE will be released in 100 countries by May.
  • iOS 9 is now running on 80% of active devices, versus 2% for Android Marshmallow.
  • Over 200 million 9.7inch iPads sold to date, being the most popular size.
  • More than 600 million PCs that are actively used that are over 5 years old.
  • Over 1 million apps designed to work on iPad.
  • Looking into moving into the new campus in 2017.

Apple/FBI Case:

Tim Cook also discussed the Apple/FBI case on stage as both sides go to court tomorrow (which has now been delayed as the Department of Justice may have a solution to break into the phone, which does not require a GovtOS) to start the proper discussions of what can and cannot be done.

Tim Cook stating the following in this video:

I feel that it was appropriate for Apple to talk briefly about this during the keynote as it is such a major issue for customer’s privacy and the fact that the court case is happening tomorrow, it gave Apple the platform to get people to agree with Apple prior to the court case to show that there are a lot of people supporting Apple’s stance along with all of the majority of tech companies.

iPhone SE:

Screen Shot 2016-03-22 at 11.47.17 AM.png

The iPhone SE was announced with the ‘SE’ presumably standing for ‘Small Edition’ if I were to guess.

UPDATE: The iPhone SE according to Phil Schiller (guy who announced the 9.7inch iPad Pro), the SE stands for “Special Edition”. Check out The Verge link below.

The iPhone SE has:

  • 4.0inch 1136×640 pixel display with a 326PPI display, like the iPhone 5/5c/5s.
  • A9 processor with M9 co-processor which has a 2x faster CPU and 3x faster GPU compared to the iPhone 5s.
  • 2GB of RAM like the iPhone 6s/Plus.
  • Always on ‘Hey Siri’ support.
  • Apple Pay support.
  • Live Photos support (long press on them to activate Live Photos).
  • No 3D Touch support.
  • Improve LTE that is 50% faster and more bands.
  • Voice over LTE support.
  • Support for 802.11ac Wi-Fi.
  • Wi-Fi Calling support.
  • Design being similar to iPhone 5s.
  • 12MP camera with 4K video recording, new image signal processor, Focus Pixels and 63MP Panoramas.
  • Support for 240FPS Slow-Mo video and 60FPS for 1080p video recording.
  • 5MP Selfie Camera with Retina Flash.
  • Improved battery life with roughly 25-40% longer battery compared to 5s:
    • 50hrs audio playback vs. 40hrs on 5s.
    • 13hrs video playback vs. 10hrs on 5s.
    • 13hrs Wi-Fi Browsing vs. 10hrs on 5s.
    • 13hrs LTE Browsing vs. 10hrs on 5s.
    • 12hrs 3G Browsing vs. 8hrs on 5s.
    • 14hrs 3G Phone Calls vs. 10hrs on 5s.
  • Comes in 16GB and 64GB of storage for US$399 and US$499.
  • Available in Space Grey, Silver, Gold and Rose Gold.

This is a very interesting move for Apple as I believe them announcing the iPhone SE, means the following:

  • They are wanting to increase iPhone sales in any way possible to not get the first drop in sales compared to previous financial quarter.
  • Developers will need to continue to support a 4.0inch display even when the iPhone 5s loses support.
  • People still want smaller iPhones as a lot have not upgraded to a 6/Plus or 6s/Plus.

I love how Apple tried to sell why the 4inch phone is still popular and they handled it incredibly well. iPhone SE is really a 4.0inch version of the iPhone 6s without 3D Touch support.

Another thing that is not obvious during the keynote or on Apple’s website is if the Touch ID sensor is the 2nd generation or same one from the iPhone 5s, so will have to wait for reviews to see what people say.

It is also believed that iPhone SE has the 1st generation Touch ID sensor, which was also on the iPhone 5s, which is nowhere near as fast and accurate as the 2nd generation found exclusively on the iPhone 6s/Plus.

Orders can be placed on March 24th and available on 31st of March in 100 countries by the end of May.

Will this sell? It obviously will sell and most people will want it, purely to have features like Apple Pay, Live Photos, improved specs and same design, but I don’t know if I’d be convinced enough to get the SE (upgrading from an iPhone 5s) as I’d rather invest in a larger screen when I upgrade.

The iPhone SE also costs AU$679 and AU$829 for 16GB and 64GB respectively, which I honestly feel are probably about what they should be after the US to Australian dollar conversion rates etc. and is seriously worth considering if you definitely do not want a larger iPhone, but do not get the 16GB as you’ll regret it later on.

iPad Pro 9.7inch:

Screen Shot 2016-03-22 at 12.04.17 PM.png

The second member to the iPad Pro family was also announced today as the next 9.7inch iPad and superseding the iPad Air 2.

This new iPad Pro 9.7inch compared to the iPad Air 2, has:

  • Oxide TFT Display with Photo Alignment and Custom timing controller.
  • Screen is 40% less reflective and has the lowest reflectivity of any tablet.
  • A9X processor with M9 Co-Processor which is more powerful than an Xbox 360 for graphics.
  • 25% Brighter screen at up to 500 nits for outdoor usage with reduced sunlight reflection.
  • 25% greater colour saturation.
  • True Tone Display which “measures the colour temperature of ambient light, and adjusts the display to match” and makes it more like looking at a sheet of paper.
  • 4 speakers for stereo sound which is more than 2x the output volume of the iPad Air 2.
  • 12MP camera with True Tone Flash.
  • Live Photos support.
  • 5MP FaceTime HD Camera with Retina Flash.
  • 4K video recording.
  • Smart Connector with compatible accessories, including a keyboard.
  • Apple Pencil support.
  • Comes in 32, 128 and a new first time 256GB configuration at AU$899, AU$1149 and AU$1399 and $200 extra for cellular models.
  • Available in Space Grey, Silver, Gold and Rose Gold.

There is a new SD Card Reader and USB Camera Adapter that can be used with the iPad Pro, of which the later can be used for more than just a camera, such as a USB microphone for podcasters.

What is interesting about the new iPad Pro 9.7inch, is that it has the following compared to the iPad Pro 12.9inch:

  • True Tone Display.
  • Always On “Hey Siri”.
  • 32GB model has a Cellular options available.
  • 12MP camera with LED Flash, Focus Pixels and Live Photos.
  • 4K Video Recording.

It is also worth mentioning that the 12.9inch iPad Pro now has a 256GB configuration, which makes perfect sense since it is on the smaller sized iPad Pro and also has a cellular version.

The iPad Pro 12.9inch has 4GB of RAM but the iPad Pro 9.7inch just like the iPad Air 2 has only 2GB of RAM, which gives the 12.9inch a competitive advantage when it comes to multitasking.

It is also believed that 9.7inch iPad Pro has the 1st generation Touch ID sensor which is nowhere near as fast and accurate as the 2nd generation found exclusively on the iPhone 6s/Plus.

Apple also had a new Lightning to USB-C Cable for faste charging of iPad Pro by its 29W USB-C Power Adapter which comes with the 12inch MacBook but is a US$49 separate purchase for people who do not already own one

One advantage the 12.9inch variant has over the 9.7inch iPad Pro besides screen size, is support for USB 3.0 which I assumed was coming to the 9.7inch version but obviously not.

Will people upgrade? I think people with iPad 2’s will more than likely upgrade to it when iOS 10 drops support for A5 chips, but I do not know how well each configuration would sell. I’d imagine the 128GB Wi-Fi model will be the most popular.

Apple Watch Bands:

Screen Shot 2016-03-22 at 11.40.06 AM.png

Apple also announced new Watch bands today, which include:

  • New coloured Sports Bands.
  • Black Milanese Loop.
  • Woven Nylon Band.

Apple also announced that the Apple Watch will start at US$299 which is a US$50 price drop. In Australia, they start at AU$429 instead of AU$499, which is what the 42mm Sports model now costs.

The announcement of these new bands during the keynote, felt more like of a way to announce that the Apple Watch has been out for a year and that it is doing better than all other smart-watches, but they are (from what I can tell) wanting to move the release date of the Apple Watch 2, to the iPhone event in September to bring out the new model before the Christmas holiday season to get increased sales.

Software Updates:

Apple also announced all of the release dates for their upcoming new software releases, including:

iOS 9.3: Released Today.

OS X 10.11.4: Released Today.

watchOS 2.2: Released Today.

tvOS 9.2: Released Today.

iTunes for OS X also got an update to 12.3.3 which adds support for the iPhone SE and iPad Pro 9.7inch, but thought there was going to be a bigger update that makes changes to Apple Music integration and more, but obviously not today. Hopefully that will come at WWDC 2016.

For developers, Xcode 7.3 was announced today which the highlights includes:

  • Support for all new SDKs released today.
  • Swift 2.2 which includes deprecation of syntax such as ++ and –.
  • Improved code completion suggestions to make it easier to write code.
  • Improved debugging.

I am definitely looking forward to what this new code completion feature will provide.

These update are all mainly evolutionary, but I am liking the look of Night Shift and protected Notes in iOS 9.3.

The update to tvOS brings the software for the 4th generation Apple TV to a point of where it should have been at when it was initially released, but it is better late than never.

Conclusion:

The keynote itself, was about what I expected.

There was a lot of padding at the start with the recycling program and CareKit (despite both being important) but the whole keynote itself being over in an hour is rather quick. It did not seem like an issue of not having enough to announce, it was more likely the case of what was ready to be announced.

I think the iPhone SE and the 9.7inch iPad Pro will sell rather well for the respective reasons that they highlighted during the keynote and I love how they dealt with the idea of re-introducing an new 4.0inch iPhone.

This event was perhaps on par with the October 2014 keynote for the iPad Air 2 and iMac with 5K Display in terms of what was announced and padding. Great announcements, but nothing compelling for me at least.

I guess you could also thank 9to5Mac for basically revealing almost everything prior to the keynote and in the weeks before it.

Obviously there was no real innovation (besides True Tone Display on iPad Pro and the Liam robot) but I don’t think that was really expected and Apple is more likely to want to put all the innovation in their flagship products to increase sales etc.

And this all leads me to the question of this post:

“Will you buy anything that was announced during or after the event?”

For me, I like what I see with the iPad Pro 9.7inch and iPhone SE, but I am not compelled to upgrade to either of these from my iPad Air 1 and iPhone 5s, as my iPad Air is still relatively new for an iPad and I would prefer to upgrade my phone to a larger screen size, when I do eventually upgrade.

You can watch the keynote in your own time, at either of the following places:

Apple’s Events Website: http://www.apple.com/apple-events/march-2016/

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/au/podcast/apple-keynotes/id275834665?mt=2

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0wIiDnjz4X4

That’s it for this review, thank you very much for reading. Be sure to give this post a like and follow me for more posts like this in the future.

References:

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