Apple Event March 2016 – TheTechZone

Apple Event March 2016

Yesterday Apple held an event to announce a few things that they’ve been working on. Rumours had been circulating on what could be announced, the strongest of which were the introduction of a new 4-inch iPhone to replace the 5S and a smaller iPad Pro.

We’ve gathered and digested all the information from the event and summarised everything below.

General Apple News

There are now more than 1 billion Apple devices in used around the world, this is a milestone for Apple as they near their 40th Birthday on 1st April this year.

Tim Cook also had something to say about Apple’s recent battle with the FBI. He said they believe that it is Apple’s responsibility to all of their customers to protect their private data and privacy and are determined to keep it that way.

Environment.

Apple set themselves a goal to have all company operations worldwide to use 100% renewable energy. Since they set this goal, there has been significant progress and currently their worldwide renewable energy usage stands at 93%. Apple are using 100% renewable energy in the 23 countries around the world including US, China and UK.

Their primary sources are Solar, wind and water, using ethical means to build solar and wind farms. Another goal was to use more and more recycled paper in their packaging. They are currently 99% using recycled paper or paper from sustainable forest.

The quest for being ever more environmentally friendly has led Apple to an innovation that for once isn’t a product they are selling. A new member of the team was introduced called Liam. Liam is a robot can take apart an Apple device and separate it into all its component parts and sort these parts so that as much of the device’s raw materials are recycled for use in other industries or products.

As part of this Apple launched Apple Renew, this is a device recycling scheme where customers are give Apple their old devices to be recycled and used to build new Apple devices.

Health.

ResearchKit has been helping the medical research industry extremely well since it was first launched. It has enabled diagnostic and tracking apps that allow Apple customers to become test subjects for various medical research trials. Within 24 hours of a Parkinsons disease study being launched, it became the largest Parkinsons study in history.

This is helping to develop a whole new range or treatments and care, and health recommendations.

As an extension to this Apple launched CareKit, this is a development kit to enable app developers to build apps that help with patient after care. This can be useful in helping patients care for themselves after a medical procedure and also communicate patient health and progress directly back to their doctor. The hope is the will eventually lead to individualised treatments based on the data CareKit provides doctors about a patient.

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Apple Watch.

Since it’s launch Apple Watch has become the number 1 selling smartwatch in the world.

Apple announced a new set of bands, including a new material. The new material is woven nylon, which is 4 layers thick to ensure durability and will be available in a range of funky colours.

According to Apple one third of all Apple Watch wearers regularly change their bands so these new bands could be quite popular.

A new range of colours for their sports band was also announced.

Also significantly, there was a price drop announced for the Apple Watch, down to a starting price of £259 (US$299) starting from yesterday.

Looking at the UK apple store, prices are from £259 for the sport bands in the 38mm size.

Apple TV.

A software update was announced for the new Apple TV that included a few key features. Siri can search for contents in a few additional apps and more will be added in due course. The apps can be organised into folders just like on iOS devices. Dictation will be available, including using it for usernames and passwords. Siri can also search the App Store for apps and your entire iCloud photo library including live photo’s is available on the Apple TV.

The update is available from today.

iPhone.

As predicted a new 4 inch iPhone was launched, the rumours doing the rounds were pretty accurate. The phone looks like the iPhone 5S externally and comes in the same grey, silver and white finishes as the 5S did with the addition of Rose Gold to bring it line with the rest of the iPhone line up. It’s called the iPhone SE.

Apple say that they sold 30 million 4-inch iPhones in 2015 so it’s clearly a big market. This makes it much more worth while for Apple to keep the smaller iPhone size in its portfolio.

On the inside the phone is essentially an iPhone 6S, it shares the same A9 and M9 processors making that a significant upgrade on the 5S and makes the SE as fast as the flagship iPhone.

The battery performance is also improved slightly with more efficient hardware and software.

The rear iSight camera the same as found in the 6S also with 12 mega-pixels, Focus Pixels, 63 mega-pixel panorama photos and Live Photos. The rear camera also allows recording video in 4K resolution. The front camera is a 5 mega-pixel snapper with the Retina Flash that uses the display as a flash to improve low light selfies.

The signal performance has been improved and upgraded to the latest and fastest 4G LTE bands so this should improve internet download speeds significantly over the 5S. Wi-fi has also come in for an upgrade and it now supports wireless 802.11ac which is the fastest type of Wi-Fi signal available at the moment.

Another big feature that the SE has inherited from its bigger brothers is Apple Pay, Apple have installed an NFC chip in the SE, this means all of Apple’s currently line up of phones supports Apple Pay. One notable feature that is missing from the SE is 3D Touch, it could be due to manufacturing issues to incorporate that feature into a smaller screen.

The iPhone SE is available to order from the 24th March with shipments starting 31st March.

Pricing is £359 (US$ 399) for the 16GB version and £439 (US$ 499) for the 64GB one. Prices for on contract phones with mobile carriers will vary depending on the vendor and contract.

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iOS.

iOS also got an update today, version 9.3 was announced amongst some typical Apple stats such as the fact that 80% of all active iOS devices are running iOS 9.x compared to only 2% of Android devices running the latest version of Google’s operating system.

This is only a point release so don’t expect a huge change here, some of the key features are as follows

Nightshift, studies and shown that the light emitted from phones and tablets affects people’s ability to sleep. The white light tends to be from the blue spectrum and its this blue light that tricks the brain into staying awake. Nightshift shifts the colours to warmer end of the spectrum at night time and this may help with sleep. It does this by automatically adjusting the colour shift depending on what time sunset is due in your location.

Notes written on the Notes app can be password protected either via a passcode or fingerprint.

The Health app now makes suggestions for third party health apps on the App Store that the user might be interested in.

The News app will show top stories and suggest trending topics and editors picks.

CarPlay has a few minor updates and Apple are expecting more and more manufacturers to implement it in their cars. The maps app can now suggest nearby points of interest.

A preview of a whole suite of educational apps for teachers and others in the education industry are also included in the latest iOS release. This is something to watch out future to further enhance learning in classrooms using Ipad technology.

The iOS 9.3 update is available now.

iPad.

As predicted Apple announced a new iPad, rather than being the next iPad Air this is a smaller 9.7 inch Retina display iPad Pro that weighs less than a pound. At 9.7 inches the display is the same size as all previous “full size” iPads and in fact it’s dimensions are pretty much identical to the iPad Air 2.

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Internally the processing power is identical to 12 inch iPad pro, with the A9X processor and the M9 co processor. Graphics performance is also on par.

The display is the same display as the iPad Pro and is 40% less reflective than the one on the iPad Air 2. The display is also 25% brighter with 25% greater colour saturation than the iPad Air 2. The display works with NightShift, a feature that shifts the displays white balance to a warmer setting during night time.

A new feature that is exclusive to the 9.7 inch iPad pro is True Tone that adjusts the colour tone of the display to suit the ambient lighting ensuring that the screen is never too harsh for the environment it’s being used in. So if you are reading a news article or iBook in a warm white lit room the display will adjust the tone to suit, mimicking the light reflected off paper.

There are 4 speakers with high def audio as on its bigger brother which is a big step over the dual speaker system on the iPad Air 2, in fact it’s twice as loud.

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Accessories wise the smart keyboard has been resized to suit the new size and connects via the smart connector as in the bigger iPad Pro. Apple Pencil is also supported which provides a significant change compared to the iPad Air 2. This opens up many more possibilities around what you can use the iPad Pro for. A few other accessories include an adapter that connects to the Lightning port and provides a powered USB port for connecting peripherals too and an SD card reader.

The camera receives an upgrade too and is now the same iSight camera as in the iPhone 6S, with 12 mega-pixels, Focus Pixels, True Tone flash and 4K video front camera is a 5 mega-pixel snapper and also features a Retina Flash.

Colours are silver, grey, gold and rose gold and there are also a bunch of new cases.

Apple also reached a milestone for iPad by reaching 1 million iPad apps available on the App Store.

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The new iPad Pro is available to order from 24th March with shipping starting from 31st March. And it comes in wifi only and 4G LTE models in 32, 128 and a new 256GB models.

Wifi only models

£499 (US$599) for 32 GB
£619 (US$749) for 128 GB
£739 (US$899) for 256 GB

Cellular Models

£599 (US$729) for 32GB
£719 (US$879) for 128GB
£839 (US$1029) for 256GB

The 256 GB version is also available on the 12.9 inch iPad Pro for £919 (US$1099) wifi only and £1019 (US$1229) for the cellular version.

The price for the iPad Air 2 has been reduced and starts at £349 (US$399) for the wifi only 16GB version. The 128GB version has been dropped.

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