Apple has been a lot in the press over the last few months over its justified refusal to unlock an iPhone but the reason we all watch the company is that they make superbly engineered products. Today Apple used it’s launch of a new iPhone to push both agendas.
We expected to see a 10 inch iPad Pro, a smaller iPhone and some other bits. What we got started with a celebration – Apple has now been around for 40 years and there are over a billion active devices. Tim Cook segued straight in to how important our devices are to us and how important privacy is:
“We need to decide as a nation how much power the government has over our data…… We have a responsibility to help you protect your data. We owe it to our customers and we owe it to our country… We will not shrink from this responsibility”
Security gave way to the environment – Apple set the goal to use 100% renewable energy two years ago. They’ve gotten to 93% worldwide and 100% in the US and China. Singapore has gotten to 100% because of solar panels on the roof.
Packaging has improved and now 99% of packaging is recycled or comes from sustainable forests.
The iPhone is very reusable but the design has been altered to make it recyclable. Apple showed off a robot that disassembles old iPhones to constituent parts for easy recycling.
Health was the third topic – they talked about the research that the Apple watch has been able to help. Specifically they talked about how a Parkinsons study they’d started had gotten to be the largest in the world in 24 hours only and a tool which could diagnose autism in children by looking at their reactions to stimuli. They followed this with the announcement of a new framework for apps – CareKit designed to let people take a more active role in their own care by gathering data on symptom. CareKit will be open source and available in April.
The Apple Watch was next up – Apple talked it up saying it’s the best selling smartwatch in the world. They gave it a boost both with new bands and a price drop to the lowest band at $299 – £210.
AppleTV was next. The number of apps was talked up – there are now over 5000 apps and it sounds to be going from strength to strength. To support this a number of features are being added via free software update today – Siri, iCloud Photo access, folders and dictation.
Next up was the iPhone and as expected they concentrated on the smaller end of the spectrum. The new 4″ iPhone SE. This is smaller but not less powerful than last year’s phone – it’s effectively a shrunk iPhone 6S.
The camera is actually potentially superior to the 6S with slightly improved specification and NFC, secure enclave and TouchID are also built in.
It will be $399 (£280) for the 16gb and $499 (£350) for the 64GB and will be available for ordering on the 24th of March for delivery on the 31st in multiple countries including the UK.
The iPhone will run iOS 9 and a new version was announced – 9.3. This will have a night mode that alters the colors dependent on the time of day and the ability to password protect notes. It will also have extra features for education providers on the iPad. iOS 9.3 will be available for download today.
They then moved to the iPad. The rumors were true – there will be a new iPad Pro at 9.7 inches. It is a smaller iPad Pro with a screen that Apple was very excited about with much improved color, brightness and better screen angles. It has four speakers, an A9X chip at its heart and its own keyboard and pencil.
There were more accessories announced for it – a USB adapter, SD Card reader and an Ethernet adapter. Apple really want the iPad Pro considered a PC replacement.
It will be 32GB for $599 (£416), 128GB for $749 (£530) and 256gb for $899 (£625). It will also be available for order on the 24th March and available on the 31st. The iPad Air 2 also got a price reduction to $399 – £415.
The event today was interesting because of its tone. It started off with security and moved to the environment and health without a pause. The devices announced looked impressive as always but were visibly less expensive than we’d expected. The SE starts at £300 which is the cheapest a new generation iPhone has ever been.