Apple’s special March event shows smaller can be better

Apple March 2016 Event iPhone SE Collage

Ever since Apple’s iconic 1984 event to announce the Macintosh computer, the tech company has become well-known for creating great hype around their product launches. Their March 2016 event may not have been as wild as prior years but the interest was still very much there – thanks to the many rumours and supposed leaks. Here’s what Apple showcased at their event on 21 March this year:

iPhone SE

Over the last few years the trend in smartphones has appeared to be that “bigger is better”. Many users have moaned about this. After all, pockets aren’t getting bigger! But this year Apple seems to have listened to the masses and unveiled their new iPhone SE (the SE stands for “Special Edition”), a smaller alternative to the company’s iPhone 6S and 6S Plus. It comes in at 4 inches and is cheaper than other Apple phones, around $399 for the 16GB version, $499 for 64GB.

The iPhone SE is described as a mix between the iPhone 5 and iPhone 6 generations. It has the design and size of the 5 while bringing in the specs and capabilities of the 6. Some features you can expect (which are quite similar to the 6S) include:

  • 12-megapixel iSight camera with panorama, time lapse, slow-motion, 4K video capture, and Live Photos
  • Touch ID
  • Apple Pay
  • Hands-free Siri activation
  • Faster LTE and WiFi speeds
  • Improved battery life

They have added a new Rose Gold colour alongside the trusty Space Gray, Gold and Silver. It is available for purchase on 31 March and should be in 100 countries by May 2016. It has been said that the SE is a lacklustre product but we’re sure that the new smaller size and great price will still appeal to a big market.

iOS 9.3

This update is by no means a big one but it still brings some interesting added extras. Both iPhones (5s and later), iPads (Pro, Mini 2 and later, and Air) and iPod Touch (6th generation) now have Night Shift, a feature that adjusts screen brightness according to what time of the day it is. Notes can be secured via Touch ID for added privacy, and there is multi-user support for the iOS which is useful for families and students. The built-in News app has improved recommendations by looking at interests, trending topics and suggestions. Apple Health integrates with Apple Watch, and CarPlay shows song suggestions while driving as well as points of interests such as petrol stations.

Smaller iPad Pro

Continuing with the downsizing trend, the 12.7-inch iPad Pro has found a new partner that comes in at 9.7 inches. There were some new features, aside from the smaller size, that was highlighted at the Apple event. These include True Tone, which makes the display warmer or cooler depending on light conditions, and a better camera. The 12-megapixel camera has the same features than that of the iPhone 6S. Furthermore, the new iPad Pro has Smart Keyboard, Pencil support, Siri, and a graphics drive as powerful as an Xbox 360. In essence, it has the power of the previous iPad Pro but stacked inside a more compact shape. It definitely is very commuter-friendly.

Health and environmental awareness

This year’s event also showed the socially conscious side of Apple. In 2015 the company announced ResearchKit, a medical research and health platform. This project aimed to give researchers and medical professionals the means with which to gather vital health-related information with the help of iOS users. People could voluntarily participate in medical research, join programs for symptom-tracking, and share information about their general health. This time around Apple gave birth to CareKit. Users of CareKit can track vitals such as their heart rate, temperature and range of motion which can be shared with loved ones or their doctors. It gathers data that can be used for future research whilst helping individuals understand their health better and have more control over their treatments.

When it comes to the environment, Apple has previously set the goal of running all of its facilities on 100% renewable energy. It’s well on its way of accomplishing this goal with 93% of its facilities currently on renewable power. The company showcased how solar energy is being utilised in this and how iPhones are recycled in a way that is safe for the environment and people (demonstrated by a robot named Liam). The paper in Apple’s product packaging is now also either recycled or sourced from sustainable resources.

Even though some say this event was a bit lacklustre when one looks at previous Apple events, there is plenty to look forward to. The annual Apple Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) 2016 Keynote Address should be held in June 2016, and the potential announcement of the iPhone 7 is likely to be in September 2016 (dates to be confirmed). And then there is of course Apple’s 40th birthday on 1 April 2016. Admittedly Apple rarely looks back, but they have released a “40 years in 40 seconds” clip to mark this milestone. Take a look here.