Apple’s first keynote of 2016 happened day before yesterday in Apple’s own Cupertino HQ, in its Town Hall Theater.
Celebrating Apple’s 40th Birthday
The event kicked off by a short video “40 years in 40 seconds” walking through the major mile stones and innovations of Apple in a simple and elegant text and fast-paced beats and music. Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak started Apple on April 1, 1976 in Steve Jobs garage to sell the Apple I personal computer kit. The Apple I kits were computers single handedly designed and hand-built by Wozniak and first shown to the public at the Homebrew Computer Club. The Apple I went on sale in July 1976 and was market-priced at $666.66.
First things first…
Apple CEO Tim Cook kicked off the announcement with a brief statement about its ongoing battle against the FBI regarding the San Bernardino iPhone case.
“We believe strongly that we have a responsibility to help you protect your data and protect your privacy,” he said. “We will not shrink from that responsibility.”
Towards Greener Planet…
Shifting quickly to other civic causes, Apple’s VP of Environment Lisa Jackson announced that 93 percent of its facilities worldwide run on renewable energy, and reached its goal of 100 percent in 23 countries, including China and the United States. She also said 99 percent of its packaging is now made from recycled paper.
In a quick video, Apple showed off its new Research and Development project called Liam, a robot designed to deconstruct old iPhones into reuse materials. Pretty neat!
CareKit is a framework for health professionals to build apps that help patients keep tabs on the their treatments.
Jeff Williams, the Chief Operating Officer (COO) demonstrated a CareKit app that can help Parkinsons patients track the medicines they need to take on a daily basis, with a ‘Care Card’ to log the their progress throughout the day.
It’s sort of like a to-do list, except for your medicine and treatments.
Patients can then send that information and health updates to their doctors, who can dynamically update the treatments and medicine in the app.
The app was born after the success of ResearchKit, which allowed thousands of people to participate in studies, making it easier for health researchers to collect data.
Like ResearchKit, CareKit is open source, and it will be available in April.
Updates to Apple Watch and Apple TV
Nothing majorly exciting with Apple Watch updates during this announcement except a price cut – now down as low as $299 – and some new watch bands, such as a woven nylon bands with some funky color choices. Apple’s also added new Sport and leather bands.
Since the new Apple TV shipped late last year, Cook says there are now more than 5,000 Apple TV apps. He also mentions a few new updates coming to the OS, such as folders and voice dictation so you can say your password to sign in, and check out your Live Photos from the device.
Expect to kick your loved ones out of the room if you are too lazy to type your password in.
The iPhone SE is a 4-inch device that comes with a 64-bit A9 chip and an M9 motion coprocessor – making it equivalent to the iPhone 6s. It has a 12-megapixel camera with all the standard features, such as panorama, time lapse, slow-motion, 4K video capture, and Live Photos. The selfie cam has a true-tone flash as well.
Apple claims the iPhone SE offers LTE speeds 50 percent faster than the iPhone 5s. It’s got Touch ID and Apple Pay built in, too.
The iPhone SE starts at $399. Without a contract, you can purchase the device via its monthly payment plan starting at $17.
Pre-orders will start on March 24 and will be available in stores on March 31. Apple plans for the device to be in 110 countries by the end of May.
Smaller iPad Pro
Apple announced a 9.7-inch Retina display iPad Pro that weighs less than one pound following the inception of iPad Pro last fall.
The new iPad Pro has a Oxide TFT display for high contrast ratio, and is 47 percent less reflective than the iPad 2 – the lowest reflectivity of any tablet, Apple says. The device also has the brightest screen with the widest color gamut Apple ever built. It’s designed to recognize ambient light to adjust the colors onscreen to best cast the tones for the most natural hues.
It also comes with four audio speakers, A9X chip, M9 motion coprocessor, a graphics drive as powerful as an Xbox 360, and a ‘Hey Siri’ handsfree compatibility.
The camera’s got 5MP front facer, 12MP rear camera and can shoot 4K videos.
Apple says it made a smaller iPad Pro to cater to those who want a powerful but more commute-friendly devices. It also admits it wants to attract Windows users over with the new iPad Pro as an “ultimate PC replacement.”
Accessories include a smart keyboard, Lightning SD card reader, USB camera adapter, and, of course, the Apple Pencil. The iPad Pro comes in four colors, including the new Rose Gold shade.
The device starts at $599 for 32GB and Wi-Fi and goes all the way up to 256GB of storage. That configuration applies to the original 12.9-inch iPad Pro as well.
Pre-orders start on March 24 and ships on the 31st.
Updates to iOS 9.3
Apple announced some new updates to iOS 9.3, such as password protection on notes, a night shift sleep-friendly lighting mode, and app suggestions for Health apps.
Apple News will now feature top stories and suggest Editor’s Picks for easy browsing. CarPlay gets a few updates too – with song suggestions and Maps locating nearby points of interests such as gas stations and rest stops.
Lastly, Education gets an update with more features for students, teachers and administrators.