Apple’s March 21 event held a number of new products and some key software updates. It may not have been the blockbuster event that last year’s Apple Watch reveal was, but Apple showcased the new iPhone SE, a smaller iPad Pro, and new Apple Watch bands. Apple’s iOS 9.3 also made an appearance, along with some new HealthKit news. Here’s a recap of everything Apple announced in case you missed it.
The 4-inch iPhone made its triumphant return at the March event, and although it may look like an iPhone 5S, it has all the power of the iPhone 6S. It has the A9 processor, the same 12-megapixel camera as the 6S, and Touch ID support for Apple Pay. In terms of looks, it’s chunkier and edgier than the iPhone 6S, giving the device a retro vibe.
Apple will start selling the iPhone SE on March 24, when it’ll cost $400 for the 16GB model, or $17 per month on Apple’s 24-month installment plan. It’ll be sold in the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, New Zealand, Puerto Rico, and Singapore.
Apple’s iPad Air 3 is still nowhere to be found. Instead, the company introduced a new 9.7-inch version of the iPad Pro that sports most of the same specs in a smaller package. It’s powered by the A9X chip, sports a 12-megapixel camera, and boasts a special True Tone display tech that shifts color temperature based on the lighting you’re in. The new feature works in conjunction with Night Shift mode, which removes blue light to help you sleep better at night. Apple also offers the Smart Keyboard and the Apple Pencil as accessories for the tablet.
The 9.7-inch iPad Pro comes in silver, space gray, gold, and rose gold. It starts at $600 for the 32GB Wi-Fi model, but the LTE enabled one will cost you $730. It’s available in 32GB, 128GB, and 256GB capacities. You can pre-order it on March 24 and get it in stores on March 31 in Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, New Zealand, Puerto Rico, Singapore, the U.K., U.S. Virgin Islands, and the U.S.
The Apple Watch did indeed get new bands at the March event, including a new woven nylon band and a pastel lineup of straps called the “Spring Collection.” Apple also discounted its wearable to $300, so that more people can strap a smartwatch to their wrists in 2016.
The Apple Watch 2, on the other hand, is expected to have a September launch. We’ve already heard plenty of rumors about the Watch 2, from the health-sensor suite to new materials for the bands and watch faces. More iPhone-free capabilities are also expected, which would be helpful. Apple seems to be taking its time updating the Watch with big new features.
After months of beta testing, Apple finally sent iOS 9.3 out to all its users on March 21. The main highlight is Night Shift mode, which limits the amount of blue light your iOS device emits, so that you can sleep better at night and rest your eyes. The software update also packs Touch ID security for Notes, improvements to News, app suggestions from HealthKit, and education features via the Classroom app.
iOS 9.3 will be available as an over-the-air update. You can go to Settings > General > Software Update to check if the update has hit your device.
Given that Apple’s landmark case versus the FBI over encryption begins the day after its big event, Tim Cook also had a thing or two to say about the case and its relationship to Apple’s products. He emphasized that Apple will continue to fight the order and to protect its users’ privacy and the security of its products. Cook’s statements were brief, but they did kick off the event.
Apple launched ResearchKit last year with the aim of solving one of the biggest problems facing medical research: data collection. Thanks to more than a billion Apple devices, however, researchers can now collect the data necessary to further advance medical progress. The company touted its achievements in scientific research for autism, and introduced CareKit, an open-source platform that helps app developers create ways for patients to manage their medical conditions and care.
The apps have four modules. Care Cards provide a to-do list that helps patients remember to take medications and perform physical therapy exercises. The Symptoms and Measurement Tracker allows patients to record their progress; They can take pictures of a wound to show how it’s healing and use the iPhone’s accelerometer and gyroscope to measure a limb’s range of motion. Finally, the Insight Dashboard compares the patient’s symptoms against the Care Cards, and the Connect module allows patients to share data with their doctor(s).
Apple highlighted its new recycling robot LIAM at the start of the event, and it’s pretty amazing. The robot begins by picking up your old phone and scanning it to determine the make and model. Once the scan is complete, the system knows every single component inside the phone — every screw, every circuit, and every piece of metal, plastic, or glass. Then, using an array of suction cups and specialized attachments, the bot begins to systematically break down the phone and separate the parts.
The parts are then recycled and made into new products. The idea is to make sure that less waste is created. Apple is encouraging its users to recycle their iOS devices and help the company lessen its carbon footprint.
The new Apple TV will support dictation. Now, usernames and passwords will be easier than ever to enter into forms for apps like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime — no more swiping and clicking necessary. The device also got support for folders, allowing users to categorize their many choices among that deep well of 5,000 available apps.
Siri can also search across more apps in the App Store, and Apple finally added access to iCloud photo library, making all photos available on a big screen.