As you know, Apple will hold its first event of 2016 next Monday, The company made the event official by sending out invites with the “Let us loop you in” tagline to select members of the press.
While it won’t be as exciting as last year’s event that saw the launch of the Apple Watch, Apple is planning to introduce several new products. Headlining the event will be the 4-inch iPhone SE, Apple’s first 4-inch iPhone since 2013.
#1. iPhone SE
According to prevailing rumors, Apple’s 4-inch iPhone, the “iPhone SE,” is modeled after the iPhone 5s. It is said to be close in size and shape to the iPhone 5s, with the same general dimensions, but rumors say it also includes a display that curves very slightly at the edges, similar to but not as dramatic as the iPhone 6s.
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.
It will also pack in Apple’s M9 motion coprocessor, embedded into the A9 application processor for even lower power consumption than before. The addition of that particular chip likely indicates the phone supports a tetherless ‘Hey Siri’ function.
Moreover, the iPhone SE should have a twelve-megapixel, slightly protruding camera on the back with support 4K video capture and Live Photos.
#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.
As the name implies, the 9.7-inch iPad will adopt many features from the existing iPad Pro, but the general size and shape will continue to be similar to the iPad Air 2. It will include a four-speaker layout for louder, more immersive audio, with two speakers positioned at the top of the device and two speakers positioned at the bottom.
The 9.7-inch iPad will essentially serve as a smaller iPad Pro. It will have a Smart Connector allowing it to support accessories like the Smart Keyboard, and it will feature the same display improvements to enable Apple Pencil functionality. A powerful A9X processor will be included, and it may have an upgraded 12-megapixel camera, the same found in the iPhone 6s. The new iPad may also be the first of Apple’s iPads to have a rear-facing flash.
The smaller iPad Pro is said to start at $599 for the 32GB Wi-Fi-only version. It’s reportedly going to be offered in the same 32/128GB tiers as the iPad Pro and come in the same Space Gray, Silver and Gold colorways.
#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. but we are expecting to see new Apple Watch bands. Existing bands like the Sport Band, Modern Buckle, and Leather Loop may be available in new colors, and rumors suggest Apple has been working on a new Apple Watch band made from nylon.
Apple is also expected to expand its portfolio with additional branded straps, such as a new set of NATO-style Nylon bands (as seen in James Bond movies), fresh new strap colors from Hermès and possibly additional band design partnerships, including one with a well-known case maker—Incase.
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
While Hardware is expected to be the focus of the event, it won’t be the only thing announced during the event. Apple has been working on software updates for Mac, iOS, Apple Watch, and Apple TV 4 since January 11, and it’s likely all four updates will be available shortly after the March event.
- 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.iOS 9.3 should release for public consumption after Monday’s event has wrapped up.
- watchOS 2.2: Along with iOS 9.3, watchOS 2.2 introduces support for connecting multiple Apple Watches to a single iPhone. The update also includes an update for the built-in Maps app. Along with a revamped interface and buttons for accessing quick directions to home and work, Maps now supports the Nearby feature first introduced with iOS 9, allowing users to to quickly locate local points of interest.We’re also expecting watchOS 2.2 to release on Monday.
- tvOS 9.2: Appel also has released 7 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.
Perhaps the most useful feature in tvOS 9.2 is Siri search for the App Store, allowing users to ask Siri to find specific apps or categories of apps, such as games. tvOS 9.2 also includes support for MapKit so developers can incorporate maps into their tvOS maps and there are new language options for Siri.
- OS X 10.11.4: OS X 10.11.4 is a minor update to OS X El Capitan, focusing mainly on under-the-hood performance improvements and updates, 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.
Apple’s event will be held on Monday, March 21, 2016, at 10:00am PT.
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.