Apple Event Re-Cap: iPhone SE, iPad Pro 9.7 – March 2016

The buzz for the tech news that will dominate today and the next few days or weeks ahead is from the Apple spring 2016 press event which just wrapped up before noon MST. The event covered a good variety of material, but the core focus that most will want to read about first are the new iPhone SE and iPad Pro 9.7″ models, so lets re-cap those first:

 

iPhone SE

So why are people buying 4-inch iPhones. First, some people simply love smaller phones. Some people asked us, some people even pleaded with us, please keep the 4-inch products in our lineup. Today we’re going to do just that and we’re going to make it a lot better.

Specifications:

  • 4-Inch Screen – Overall shape/design very close to iPhone 5s
  • A9 Processor & M9 Graphics Co-Processor – Same as iPhone 6s
  • 12MP iSight Camera w/True Tone Flash
  • Launching by June – Starting @ $399 USD (So likely $499+ CDN), presumably for a tiny 16 GB storage model.

 

Event & Device Photos:

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iPad Pro – 9.7″

Specifications:

  • 9.7 Inch Retina Display, with some new colour/light matching tricks
  • Screen is now 25% Brighter and 40% Less Reflective
  • A9 Processor & M9 Graphics Co-Processor w/”Hey Siri” Support
  • 4-Speaker “Pro Audio” Stereo System
  • 9.7 Inch version of Apple Keyboard dock and support for Apple Pencil
    • Note: A lot of reviews still find the Surface Pro keyboard has a significantly better typing feel for heavy/power-user use.
  • 32GB for $599 USD / 128GB is $749 USD / 256GB is $899 USD
    • Available March 31st

 

Following the specs and stage talk, the CNet Live Blog I was following raised the exact same issue I’m going to raise from this direct quote on stage:

There’s a second group of people we’d love to reach with this new iPad Pro. Windows Users. The majority of people coming to iPad Pro come from Windows. Many of them will find it’s their ultimate PC replacement.

Brian at CNet raised the same issue that from this statement they provided no statistics, and so far sales and marketing data for the iPad Pro has shown that while it’s sold “well”, it has not slowed down the iPad sales free-fall. Of course, I personally am a Windows fan, but even being objective it’s pretty common that the majority of iPad users of any size do not transition them into Ultimate PC Replacement type devices. Casual users, maybe, but power users doing heavy gaming, video/audio/photo editing and the like, it’s a great complimentary device to a Mac or Windows PC, not a replacement. I myself despite being a Windows 10 and Windows Phone 10 user have an iPad Mini 2, it’s a great device, but the OS is not PC replacement level.

In addition to that, iPad sales have been in free-fall for the past two years. Apple hoped November’s iPad Pro would buoy sales by attracting business users, but it hasn’t caught on. In the December quarter, unit sales tumbled 25 percent to 16.1 million. That marked the eighth quarter in a row iPad sales have fallen from the previous year.

Finally, right off the announcement, monitoring a few live blogs and Twitter, one of the biggest initial reactions towards this new iPad Pro 9.7″ is a lot of anger from anyone who bought the Fall 2015 iPad Pro 12″, given the number of new and nifty features (not all mentioned above) that this standard size iPad now comes with. The original iPad Pro still has the screen size advantage, but the reaction is pretty clear on Twitter.

Let’s take a look at a few device and event photos for the iPad now…

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iOS 9.3 – Available Today

Next up was a rather brief announcement of the release of the iOS 9.3 update today. They spent less than ten minutes to breeze through a few features, essentially pointing users to go read in more detail if they want to know more. The only real feature I picked up on that I’ll take advantage of is Night Shift, the ability for the screen to limit Blue Light output in the evening, which has been shown to impact quality of sleep.

Otherwise they mentioned some quick updates for those who use Apple News to feature Top Stories & Editors Picks, the ability to password protect your Apple Notes, and then some Education only features such as multi-user capabilities. Beyond that, it’s released now and available to download to your device.

 

Everything Else

Beyond those two big announcements, at least from my perspective and the mass consumer side, the rest of the event was a bit tired with some other quick points being:

  • Apple Watch
    • Price drop from $399 USD Starting to $299 USD Starting
    • New Woven Nylon and other watch bands

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  • Apple TV

People are absolutely loving the new Apple TV. We’ve got some other great features coming to Apple TV like folders. Now you can organize your apps on your home screen just like you want to. As well, Siri now support voice dictation of commands.

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  • Health Advancements

When we introduced ResearchKit, our goal was simply to improve medical research. We thought our work was largely done. What became clear to us later was the very same tools to advance medical research can also be used by people to advance their care. First CareKit app launching today to allow Parkinson’s patients to help self-manage and provide data back to their care providers. CareKit is Open Source along with ResearchKit.

 

  • Environmental Impacts & Changes

At the beginning of the event Apple spent a good ten minutes talking about their push to make their facilities mostly renewable energy based, and talked about other various environmental initiatives. This mostly lead up to brief details on Apple launching a more official ‘old device’ recycling program called Renew. The focus of this program being that stores would accept all old devices for recycling free, and at least in the USA, have a free prepaid mailing process for sending old devices in for recycling.

That about covers the event today! Right before the environmental details and discussions, Tim Cook had a quick statement about the Apple vs. FBI debate and a thanks for all the public support as the deliberations continue. Overall the event had no surprises as it was highly leaked the coming of the iPhone SE, and even though not leaked as heavily, given the iPad Air 2 was released in 2013, everyone expected a new 9.7″ iPad of some form. Beyond that, now it’s time for the rumor mill and hearsay to spin into full gear for the Fall 2016 event and iPhone 7 news…let the insanity begin…

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