It’s that time. March 21 is almost here and it’s all about Apple’s big event to ‘Loop us in.’ You have to wonder if they’ll eventually run out of phrases to get the tech press buzzing.
What does Apple have in store for fans and investors? Surprises? Disappointments? And can the giant tech battle a Justice Department juggernaut?
If you’re not in Cupertino on March 21, you can watch the event live thanks to Apple’s HTTP Live Streaming (HLS) technology. Oh, you know there’s a ‘catch.’
The company is limiting the devices that can stream the event. For desktop users, you’ll need OSX 10.8.5 or later and be using Safari.
Mobile? iOS 7 or later for iPhones and iPads. Apple TV owners can also enjoy the event on their TV. What about PC owners? Hunt down Microsoft Edge on Windows 10 and you’re good to go.
Are you an Android user? Sorry, Apple isn’t showing you the love. Same goes for those using third-party browsers like Chrome or Firefox. Come on Apple; I don’t want to use Safari.
Regardless, you can fire up a compatible device at 1 pm E.T. to enjoy whatever hasn’t leaked from Tim Cook and company.
It’s both the biggest and the smallest rumor of the event. The new, smaller iPhone. Think an iPhone 5s with better specs. The naming for the device is all over the place. Everything from iPhone 5SE to 6C has been rumored at some point. One possible branding that is interesting is dropping the number and running with iPhone SE.
Pushing away from the numbered iPhones makes sense. It’s not the powerhouse of the six range, but Apple needs to at some point breakaway from the iPhone # branding. An iPhone 15 does not have a nice ring to it.
Specs on the device focus heavily on the smaller screen. A 4-inch screen is the big rumor. It shoves the ‘latest’ tech in a smaller and cheaper form factor. Cheaper is a loose term with the price expected in the $450 range.
Why a smaller iPhone? Quarterly results. Apple’s last quarter saw smartphone sales starting to flatline. A smaller and cheaper phone immediately appeals to prepaid customers in both the United States and Europe. It also allows the company to push into emerging markets such as India.
It may not wow the tech press and Apple fans, but it gives the company breathing room on Wall Street.
iPad Air Goes Pro
The flagship iPad has had a rough few years. The iPad Mini has seen the love and has comparable specs. The giant iPad Pro is sucking up all the air. Where’s the in-between? Apple hopes by rebranding the iPad Air into the Pro lineup; it can see a resurgence of tablet sales.
Along with a new iPad Pro comes a price increase. The rumors pin it at $599, a $100 increase. You’re not going to be happy with what you get for the $100, but in a way it makes sense.
In addition to updated internals, the 9.7-inch iPad Pro gets some additional protuning. The peripherals on the 12.9-inch version work on the new model. The smart keyboard is a definite, and the Apple Pencil a definite maybe. It’ll take some magic to fit the necessary tech in an already squeezed form factor.
Additional good news comes in the form of storage. The new iPad looks to ditch the 16GB base model in favor of 32GB. Here’s hoping that decision translates to the iPhone 7 this fall.
Customers who like the idea of an iPad with a Keyboard but don’t want the size of the original iPad Pro may have their answer March 21.
Unless the company has sealed the leaks, don’t expect much from the Apple Watch division. Bands have been rumored, but the next iteration of the Apple Watch looks to be saving its big announcement for the fall.
Rumored bands include a NATO-inspired band and the a space black milanese bracelet. Not exactly shocking, but we’ll see if Cook has something up his sleeve. Or, on his wrist.
For amazing laptops, they seem to get zero love at these events. It’s often an ‘oh yeah, new specs’ and the company calls it a day. The MacBook line has seen time go by without an update and you wonder if they company will drop the news of a new line.
Maybe one with a 4K screen? Skylake processors? Hey, we can hope.
Apple’s Privacy legal battle
Bad luck? Maybe not. Apple is set to enter the courtroom in its ongoing dispute with the Justice Department demanding Apple create an iOS version to unlock the San Bernardino shooter’s phone.
The timing of the event and Apple’s court battle is just by luck. Apple can control its events, but the court docket? Zero control.
What Tim Cook has done is raise his company’s political profile. Privacy advocates have cheered the company as they have consciously made the decision to become the standard bearer for a person’s right to privacy.
It helps the US government position has been woefully articulated by public officials lacking even basic knowledge of technology. How it shapes out is a tossup. It’s hard to read how judges will react, but Apple hasn’t been afraid to launch legal broadsides at the Justice Department over the issue.
Apple wins the PR battle, and it’s hard to see how they lose the argument on a private company being forced to create software to unlock phones for a government agency.
One More Thing?
The good ole days of Apple. Steve Jobs was a master of keeping something close and dropping it on the tech world. Can Apple do the same again? The marketing of ‘looping us in’ gives us hope, but I doubt Apple will reveal anything earth-shattering at the event.
Though if Tim Cook drove out in an Apple Car, people would lose their minds. That alone is worth the price of admission. It’s a dream, but I think we are stuck with basic announcements above. Maybe a few surprises, but nothing ground-breaking.