Apple announced last week that it is holding its annual spring event on March 21st at its Cupertino campus. According to the always clever tagline for the event, Apple wants to “Let us loop you in,” a possible reference to the rumored Apple Watch bands the company is expected to announce. What else is on tap for the upcoming event? Read on to find out.
#1. iPhone SE
According to prevailing rumors, Apple is bringing back the 4-inch iPhone with a new model that may be called the iPhone SE. The iPhone SE is expected to look similar to the iPhone 5s with slightly rounded, matte edges inspired by the iPhone 6/iPhone 6s. The design allegedly is so analogous to the 5s that the new iPhone SE may be able the same cases as its older counterpart.
While the outside of the iPhone SE will resemble the iPhone 5s, the internals will borrow heavily from the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6s. The SE is expected to include the new A9 and M9 chips, which will provide more accurate step tracking and the always-on, always a favorite “Hey Siri” feature. In the camera department, the iPhone SE may ship with a high-resolution camera and support for Live Photos.
The SE won’t be a clone of the 6/6s as it will lack some of the high-end features such as the display flash for selfies and 3D Touch, which remains an exclusive to the iPhone 6s/6S Plus for the time being. Unlike the iPhone 5s which was available only in two color options, the iPhone SE may be available in gold and silver as well as the traditional space gray and silver. It also likely will be sold in either 16GB or 64GB capacities.
#2. 9.7-inch iPad Pro
Last fall, Apple opted to upgrade the iPad mini, bringing it up to speed with the iPad Air 2. This spring Apple is expected to turn its attention back the 9.7-inch iPad, introducing a new version that will mirror the iPad Pro. Apple also is expected to drop the “Air” branding, likely referring to the device as the 9.7-inch iPad Pro.
From a physical standpoint, the 9.7-inch iPad Pro will look like the Air 2, with a slightly thicker chassis to accommodate features such as the quad speakers found on the 12-inch iPad Pro. Like its larger counterpart, the smaller 9.7-inch version is rumored to ship with Apple’s A9X processor, additional RAM, and a smart connector. The smart connector will support the Apple Smart Keyboard as well as open the door for creative third-party accessories.
Similar to the 12-inch iPad Pro, the 9.7-inch tablet may feature the display technology that gives the iPad Pro its great screen and the necessary hardware support for the Apple Pencil. The one area the 9.7-inch iPad Pro will trump its bigger counterpart is in the camera department, where the 9.7-inch version is expected to mirror the iPhone 6s with a 12-megapixel camera capable or recording 4K video.
The new iPad Pro could debut as soon as one week after the announcement with a price tag that is closer to the older iPad Air 2 than the 12-inch Pad Pro. The smaller iPad Pro may be sold in a 32GB and a 128GB capacity with space gray, silver, and gold color options. Following the debut of the 9.7-inch iPad Pro, Apple likely will sunset some of its older iPad models, including the original iPad Air and the iPad mini 2.
#3. Apple Watch Bands
Apple isn’t expected to introduce new Apple Watch hardware this spring and instead will save that announcement for the fall. Given the “Loop you In” tagline for the event, the company likely will focus on accessories, unveiling new bands including Apple Watch Sports bands with colors for the spring. These bands probably will be sold as a standalone accessory for existing Watch owners and as a color option for new Watch buyers.
Beyond the Apple Watch Sport, Apple is rumored to be releasing a black version of the Milanese Loop and high-quality NATO-style band for those who like a waterproof band that is more stylish than the existing fluoroelastomer options. Apple also is rumored to be offering new bands from Hermès and expanding its partnership to other band designers.
#4. Software Updates (iOS 9.3, tvOS 9.2, watchOS 2.2, OS X 10.11.4)
While Hardware is expected to be the focus of the event, it won’t be the only thing announced during the event. Apple may use the occasion to announce the release of iOS 9.3, tvOS 9.2 and watchOS 2.2. iTunes also may see a refresh along with OS X 10.11.4. OS X may bring with a password option for the Notes app and improved support for Live Photos in the Messages and Photos app. Changes in OS 9.3, tvOS 9.2 and watchOS 2.2 include the following:
- iOS 9.3: Apple has released 7 beta version of iOS 9.3 to developers, adding in a handful of new features such as Wi-Fi calling on Verizon, Touch ID Notes, Night Shift, which adjusts the color of the display to reduce eye strain, and more.
- tvOS 9.2: Appel also has released six betas of tvOS 9.2 to improve the overall experience of the user interface. new features and improvements include voice dictation for search, full support for iCloud Photo Library and the ability to use Bluetooth keyboards with the media player.
- watchOS 2.2: watchOS 2.2 brings with it several new features, including the capacity to pair multiple watches with one iPhone and improvements to the Maps app. There also will be several new actions and an improved Nearby Search feature powered by Yelp.
- OS X 10.11.4: The new software isn’t stocked with a plethora of new features, but it does bring support for Live Photos within the Messages app. It also supports more secure Notes. Apple is also making it possible, and even easy, to import data and notes from Evernote into the stock Notes app. The update also fixes an issue with opening Twitter links, which previously led nowhere.
No Mac Hardware?
Rumors suggest Apple will not be announcing any new Mac hardware at its March event. New 12-inch MacBooks are expected to land closer to WWDC while refreshed MacBook Pro may arrive this fall.
Apple has a lot on tap for this upcoming March event. Which announcement are you most excited for? Are there any disappointments? Let us know in the comments and then make sure you come back next week for all the details.