Apple Event: March 2016 – Wrap Up

I was a little underwhelmed with the Apple Event, actually. Nothing new or revolutionary announced this time around. Apple decided to go back to the smaller versions of the same products from 3 years ago. With Apple’s 40th anniversary on April 1st of this year, I hope for a little more excitement in September, with the anticipated release of the iPhone 7. Though at this point, I really don’t know what else they can shove into the iPhone besides maybe making Siri better (I have some qualms with her, but that’s for a different post).

Yesterday, Apple released the 4-inch iPhone SE, a smaller version of the iPad Pro, new bands for the Apple Watch and software updates for the Apple Watch and Apple TV. Keep reading for highlights and details.

HIGHLIGHTS

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Meet Liam. This is actually my favourite announcement from yesterday’s event. I love the plethora of gadgets I have, but I hate the impact it has on the world. The amount of e-waste that ends up in developing countries where people literally risk their lives to extract the minute amount of metals in our electronics is astonishing.

Liam is a robot designed by Apple who deconstructs your iPhone with the least amount of waste possible. It pulls apart the phone based on the components, rather than what they’re made of, which reduces the amount of waste created by the recycling process. To help Apple reduce the amount of e-waste, check our the Renew program.

I don’t know if this was Apple’s way of addressing the heat they’ve been getting for the lack of diversity in their ranks, but seeing former EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, not only a woman of colour, but a Black woman on that stage made me happy.

Jackson also announced that 99% of Apple’s packaging is recycled or coming from sustainably managed forests, as well as their goal to add the world’s supply of sustainable resources.

Tim Cook also took the time to address the heated battle they’re currently in with the FBI over the San Bernadino shooters’ encrypted iPhone, stating that: “We need to decide as a nation how much power a government should have over our data and privacy.” Watch the full address here.

Night Shift on iOS 9.3 and Retina Flash on the iPhone SE and the 9.7-inch iPad Pro are a few things that really stood out and that I look forward to using in the future.

Apple Watch

Apple-watch-woven-nylon-bands

If you were really itching to get an Apple Watch and haven’t already bought one, the price has been reduced to $299 USD / $399 CAD. Also released: new Woven Nylon bands that remind me a lot of the bands on the old school Timex watches I had in Grade 8, but albeit a little nicer.

Apple also released software updates to the Watch. If you’re about that life, you can now pair your iPhone with 2 Watches. Along with the usual bug fixes, updates to WatchOS also include updates to Maps (seriously, people are still using this over Google Maps?) for users to find points of interest and the ability to quickly find directions to home and work.

Apple Watch: $299 USD / $399 CAD
Bands: $49 USD / $69 CAD

Apple TV

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I’m still using a 3rd generation Apple TV that I’ve had since 2013, and it has about 30-50 apps that I can think of off the top of my head. Now considering that the technology I have is 3 years old, it doesn’t exactly surprise me that there are more apps available for the 4th generation Apple TV; but 5000 apps!? Apple and other tech companies alike are great at convincing me I need the newest version of everything.

Nothing new in terms of hardware here, but the update to tvOS now allows users to organize their apps in folders (much like the iPhone) as well as support for dictation with Siri for usernames and passwords.

32 GB: $149 USD / $199 CAD
64 GB: $199 USD / $269 CAD

iPhone SE (or the iPhone 6s Mini)

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Not everyone is on the phablet train. While I think my 4.7-inch iPhone 6 is too small and are in the market for something closer to 5.5 inches, 30 million 4-inch iPhones were sold in 2015. Maybe it’s the idea of being able to slip a phone into your pocket, which can be difficult when your screen is clocking in at 5.5 inches without a case, or maybe it’s the nostalgia for your first 4-inch iPhone (as was mentioned during the event), but it sounds like the people’s requests have been heard, and that instead of releasing the iPhone 7, they instead released a better version of the iPhone 5s.

With an aluminum body and the bars a the top and bottom to help boost the signal to the phone, the iPhone SE looks a lot like the iPhone 5s. But that’s about where the comparisons end. If you were to make a comparison, the iPhone SE is essentially a mini version of the iPhone 6s. The iPhone SE without a doubt, the most powerful 4-inch smartphone on the market right now. It features an A9 chip, an M9 motion coprocessor  which is double the speed of the 5s and the same speed of the 6s, and a new graphics card that’s three times the performance of the 5s.

A disappointing factor with the SE is that Apple is still pushing the 16 GB model. After firmware and software installs, a few GB of space are unusable. Still waiting for Apple to ditch the 16 GB model completely and start with 32 GB at a better price. Nonetheless, the SE comes in 16 GB and 64 GB models and comes in the same colours as the 6s line up: Gold, Rose Gold, Silver and Space Grey. The SE also supports live photos and probably one of the better features (especially being a dark-skinned woman) Retina Flash. One of the great features on Snapchat is the ability to use a front-facing camera to take a selfie in low light, so now that this is a standard feature on the SE, it’s not a reach to assume that this technology will be included on the iPhone 7.

Some other great features brought into the SE: NFC & Apple Pay, Touch ID, wifi calling, Live Photos and the ability to shoot in 4K video.

Available Colours: Gold, Rose Gold, Silver, Space Grey

16 GB: $399 USD / $579 CAD
64 GB: $499 / $709 CAD

If don’t have the cash upfront and you live in the US, you’ve got the added benefit of paying for the phone on a monthly tab starting at $13/month.

9.7-inch iPad Pro (iPad Pro mini)

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Officially, it’s the 9.7-inch iPad Pro, but I like the iPad Pro mini better. According to Apple, the majority of users that bought the 12.9-inch iPad Pro in the last 6 months came were people that were ditching the Microsoft Surface Pro. It’s also apparently become the dominant computing device. To be honest, I find that a little hard to believe as I find that there are so many more limitations to the iPad Pro when you could just buy a MacBook Air or Pro for pretty much the same price.

Weighing in at under 1 pound, the new iPad Pro Mini features an improved camera to 12 MP, and the front-facing camera to 5 MP. It also has the lowest reflectivity of any tablet currently on the market and it’s ability to recognize your hand and arm while using the Apple Pencil is probably the closest thing that you’ll get to using an actual piece of paper.

The screen is 25% brighter than the screen on the iPad Air 2, 25% greater colour saturation and True Tone Display. Essentially, True Tone Display aims to make your state of the art iPad just like a piece of paper. This feature measures the ambient light of a room and shifts the screen to warmer colours which results in less eye strain and the ability to read from your iPad anytime, anywhere.

Other features of the iPad Pro mini include an A9X processing chip, a new keyboard designed for the new size, along with the ability to use keyboard shortcuts to take advantage of multitasking and other keyboard shortcuts. It also supports Live Photos, takes 4K video and has the front-facing Retina Flash. Apart from the keyboard, there are 2 new powered adapters that allows the iPad to read other USB-enabled devices as well as SD Cards. People are apparently really loving the new colour lineup, so the iPad Pro mini is available in Rose Gold, Gold, Silver and Space Grey.

Available Colours: Rose Gold, Gold, Silver and Space Grey

Wifi Only

32 GB: $599 USD /  $799 CAD
128 GB $749 USD / $999 CAD
256 GB $899 USD / $1299 CAD

Wifi + Cellular

32 GB: $729 USD / $979 CAD
128 GB $879 USD / $1179 CAD
256 GB $1029 USD / $1379 CAD

The price of the iPad Air 2 was also reduced:

Wifi Only

16 GB: $399 USD / $499 CAD
64 GB: $499 USD / $609 CAD

Wifi + Cellular

16 GB: $529 USD / $649 CAD
64 GB: $629 USD / $759 CAD

iOS

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iOS 9.3 is now available to the world (though at the time of writing this post it was not available to me yet. Update: as of 11:42 am EST I was able to download the update) and brings a pretty great new feature: Night Shift. After multiple reports that the blue light from devices is affecting our sleep and no sign of people not using their phones before bed, Night Shift uses your phones clock along with your geolocation to gradually shift and filter out the blue light emitted from the screen so that when it’s time for you to go to sleep, your brain is ready to shut off.

iOS 9.3 also includes updates to Notes, including the ability to password-protect personal and private items, as well as updates to Apple News that include trending topics, top stories and editor’s picks and updates to CarPlay.

TL;DR

Apple’s push to sustainability and reducing the amount of waste that we create was great to see, but again, there’s not a whole lot to report of in terms of flashy new hardware. Everything you already have, just smaller, basically. Here’s hoping there are some great new items in the Fall.

New hardware: iPhone SE (4-inch iPhone, pretty much the same as the iPhone 6s and includes Retina Flash) and the iPad Pro (9.7-inch iPad with a connector for a keyboard) – available for pre-order on March 24, 2016; available in stores and online March 31. Apple Watch (technically not new hardware, but the drop in price makes it worthy of adding to this list) – available March 21, 2016.

New software: Apple TV/tvOS (support for dictation with Siri, ability to place apps in folders), Apple Watch (multi-Watch support, updates to Maps, bug fixes) iOS 9.3 (Night Shift; no more blue light ruining your sleep) – available March 21, 2016

New accessories: Apple Watch Bands (Woven Nylon), Keyboard for the 9.7-inch iPad Pro – available March 21, 2016.

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